Mar 2012 120

I’m shaving my head in under a month now for St. Baldrick’s, which raises money for children’s cancer research. I am terrified. At first, I was just a little nervous, but as time bears on it has transformed into sheer terror. Or is that shear terror?

My head is shaped funny, I’m sure of it. My face is prettily round, which works okay with my curly hair that I keep pretty short anyway. My hair has a vampish quality when I want it. Other times, it looks like Shirley Temple. If it was a little redder, I’d look like Strawberry Shortcake, even at my age. Mostly, though, I fancy myself a Clara Bow look-alike. Her big curly hair was a defining trait. People walk up to me and “boing” my curls. Even with a flat iron, I can’t straighten them. It’s been like this since I was a teenager. I should make a shirt that says “yes, my curls are real, and no, you don’t want them, and no, you can’t touch them.” I know that would be rude, but the biggest part of why people have always thought I was cute is because my hair is involuntarily curly. I keep it cut in ways that highlight that feature.

My hair is warm brown, too. I don’t dye it. I don’t want that many chemicals up in my stuff. In the summer, the sun lightens it a little so the golden parts of it honey up, and the auburn reddens. My hair is soft and coarse at the same time, and also very thick.

I’m going to miss it.

Every year in March or April I cut it pixie short and let it grow the rest of the year. It grows pretty fast actually. It doesn’t grow fast enough to look non-shaved for my best friend’s wedding on April 8, or to look pixie-ish for work, so I bought a wig.

Wig shopping was quite an experience. A friend who is also shaving her hair in solidarity for cancer and I went to a store primarily geared to African American women at a mall that struggles to keep stores. We were the only white ladies there. One of the other customers asked me a question about the area (she was out of town with a friend)-and I told her and then promptly asked back “How do I pick a wig!?!” She laughed and her friend came over and explained lace front wigs to us-”They look more like a natural hairline, see?” She pointed to her forehead. I excitedly told her I’d never have known if she didn’t tell me, and that it was beautiful. It looked just like hair. Well, because it was lacefront and made from human hair. We told her what we were doing and she told us we were brave.

Also, wigs range from like $10 to well into hundreds. I tried on 5. The first few were short wigs to feel pixie-ish. They were too puffy at the crown. I don’t want big hair. They were all straight, and not the warm brown I’m used to. I didn’t look like myself.

I decided on a straight wig with reddish tints, and with a swooping bang across the front and fringed at one side and in the back. It’s asymmetrical. A lady in the try-on room with us said “it looks natural to me, but honey, you’ll just have to get used to it.” It will also look vastly different when I don’t have a full thick head of hair tucked into a wig cap underneath it making it bulge out funny. I don’t know if I love it, but I like it enough to wear it. I still want a pink wig, though. And I want one that looks more like my own hair but better styled for Elyn’s wedding. So I know I’ll be shopping again.

Overall, it was fun. We giggled, and my friend’s five year old son made funny faces at us when we asked how they looked. I loved how helpful the staff was, and when we told one of the other women in the shop about why we were doing it-we were given an incredible story of sisterhood about why her own hair was so short now. She shaved her head with her bestfriend who died of breast cancer that spread. She kept her hair shaved as long as her friend was battling, and so did three of their other girlfriends. She said “I was doing her hair one day after she first started chemo. It started coming out in fistfuls. We went then and got clippers together.”

I am doing this not just to raise money for children’s cancer research, but to honor and remember all the women I’ve lost to cancer. The advances made in children’s cancer research helps all cancer victims. I have lost an aunt, my mom’s best friend. My best friend lost her mother. I know survivors, too, and this is in solidarity. I’ll wear that wig to weddings and work. I’ll probably wear it for my boyfriend, too, god love him-I told him the night I met him, when he commented on my hair-that soon it would all be gone. And he started dating me anyway. The rest of the time I’m rocking the bald, and I’ll tell people why. I’ll tell them exactly why I’m happy to be doing this. Mine will grow back. And fast. It’s a small sacrifice but I’m so humbled to do it, even though I’m scared, I know it’s nothing compared to the women I love who were scared to lose their hair, yes, but were fighting for their lives in so many other ways.

Right now I’ve only raised $20. Please give. Even $5 is hugely appreciated. My personal goal is $500. I know I can do it! When I get my tax return, I’m going to donate, too. If you can help at all, I’d greatly appreciate it. If you don’t want to donate to me, donate to our team! There are so many other great women that are shaving, too.

You can still donate!

-Rachel H

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