I’ve never been much of a risk taker.
Last night, however, I made a spur-of-the-moment, spontaneous decision to cut off over eight inches of hair. Half-frustrated by the perpetual tangles and half-motivated by my friend telling me I didn’t have the guts to do it since I had been talking about it so long, I woke up this morning with one goal in mind. Within the hour, I was seated in a chair with a plastic cape encasing my body watching my hair get mercilessly sliced from my head. I sat stunned, gripping onto my detached ponytail, eyes locked in my reflection like a cliche deer in the headlights. After the initial shock, I loved it. I spent the next few hours surprising my friends and family (none of whom I told). Everyone was freaking out. But why?
That’s the explanation actress/singer Clare Bowen gave when she recently ditched her famous flowing blonde locks for a short pixie cut. It’s just hair.
Her point? To prove to cancer patients that it’s just hair. Hair doesn’t define beauty. Then she donated it all to those who needed it more than she did.
I spent some time scrolling through the hashtag #ItsJustHair and found some touching and heartbreaking stories about young girls coping with difficult body image issues during their treatment, praising Bowen for her eloquence addressing this topic. In the face of a deadly disease, the feeling of beauty (or lack thereof) might seem like such a minuscule thing to others watching these young women battling for their lives, but to them, it’s just another thing that contributes to their pain and misery.
I had flirted with the idea of cutting my hair for charity for a while, but this pushed me to make the decision. So sure, I will admit that I was motivated by petty issues (such as extensive grooming and a half-joking dare), but ultimately my decision came down to that bald girl sitting in the hospital being subjected to yet another round of chemotherapy. The girl who wants a wig to get a feeling of normalcy returned to her drastically-different life. The girl any of us could easily be.
After all, it’s just hair.