Hair for Hazel

I had no intention of drastically cutting my hair.  In fact, it had been a running joke with my stylist for the past few years that I would only let her trim a little off each time I went. I would estimate that this summer my hair was a little more than halfway down my back.

I saw the tweets about Shailene Woodley cutting off her hair for her role in TFIOS. I thought it was really cool that she would go to such lengths to authenticate the character. Upon hearing the news, I was not inspired to cut off mine, but I did respect her choice. But then I read her Tumbler post.

Her words made sense to me.  She spoke about the correlation between hair and power and then the freedom in cutting it off.  I decided to donate my hair to Children with Hair Loss as well.  Although I would consider myself a creature of habit, I am also prone to bouts of spontaneity.  Donating my hair felt like something I had to do.

After I made the decision to donate my hair, I thought what if it could be a bigger event and I could get others to donate theirs as well?  I reached out to my cousin Gina, who is a stylist and asked her if her salon would be interested in hosting an event that would benefit Children with Hair Loss.  Northern Lights had also volunteered their skills for our prom fashion show the year before and I knew they had done events for other organizations in the past so I thought my chances of this happening were pretty good.  They immediately agreed and we starting exchanging ideas back and forth.  Cindy, my friend and co-worker designed a promotional flyer.  We made a Facebook event and I was secretly hoping that I wouldn’t be the only person cutting off 8 inches of my hair.

When I spoke about donating my hair, a lot of my former students who are now in high school responded in ways like “why?” and “aren’t you nervous?”  Really I wasn’t.  I was exciting.  I felt like a burden would be lifted from me and I would feel lighter.  And I was right.

On the morning of September 15th, I showed up mostly on time.  My cousin sat me in a chair.  She grabbed an elastic band and pulled my hair into a ponytail.  It happened quickly.  She cut through my hair and I felt happy.  It is a little weird to see that much of your hair separate from your body, but also very cool.  While I was getting my hair chopped off, my friend Cindy’s 4-year old daughter was doing the same.

And then I heard other stories.  Like a young woman who saw our event re-blogged on Tumblr.  At first I didn’t understand what happened.  But I tweeted our event to John Green’s assistant and she put it on Tumblr, which was totally awesome of her.  AND THEN John Green re-blogged it on Tumblr.  Over 1500 people re-blogged our event.  I saw one of the people commented about how proud they were to be from New Jersey when events like this are happening, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Another woman just happened to come in and wanted to chop her hair off.  The stylist asked her if she would cut off enough to donate and she said yes! The salon offered blow-outs in addition to haircuts and my friend Lauren came in and did that, because really a lot of people don’t have or aren’t willing to part with eight inches of hair.  In total, six people donated hair to Children with Hair Loss.  We were also able to donate over $400 to their organization.  Some of my co-workers donated money, which I thought was pretty cool.

I love my new haircut and I am happy that I am contributing to an organization that will make a kid feel better.  I am chalking this experience up to another way that John Green and TFIOS has influenced my life.  And I am grateful.

* A week or so later, I received an email from a co-worker on maternity leave who said she heard about what I did and was inspired to donate her hair as well.  I also received a letter from a member from our county’s Board of Freeholders, which was a nice acknowledgement of the event and the salon.

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