When I was twenty-one, living in Los Angeles and doing the waitress-actress thing, I made a friend named Linda at a restaurant where we both worked. She was a spitfire- a smack talking, no B.S. taking, teasing, fun-loving career server 7 years older than I. She was one of those people who went out of her way to make others feel important, cared about, and rooted for. Droves of loyal customers would book reservations with Linda specifically, knowing she’d take great care of them, and even remember their special occasions and decorate their tables. She subscribed to a “what’s mine is yours” mindset through and through. She loaned her car out to my boyfriend & I weekly so we wouldn’t have to take public transportation to go on dates, handed over keys to her apartment to whoever needed them, and gave away anything anyone admired, no matter how valuable. She was also my greatest cheerleader. In the few times my face hit the big screen, even for a few seconds, Linda would rally a troop of supporters, fill up rows of seats, and scream like crazy. She was beautiful inside and out, with a gorgeous long mane of hair.
Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years after we met, had surgery, went through treatment, and lost her hair. And in spite of giving it everything she had, of having a troop of her own cheerleaders, and amazing doctors who tried everything they could, she lost the battle at only 32 years old. She left an indelible mark on many hearts, including mine.
A few of years ago I began growing my hair to donate in honor of Linda to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. They create wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments. But I have to confess that as life got hard, my hair became a security blanket of sorts and I’ve had a hard time letting it go, or even cutting it. It seems out of character- I’m a gal who’s shaved/cropped her hair twice, has had every color and length of hair, often short, and yet here I am rivaling Crystal Gayle in the name of security. But then again, I think it speaks to exactly why it’s important for me to donate. As Pantene states on their site: “A real-hair wig allows a woman to look in the mirror and at least see a familiar face while she fights to regain a sense of normalcy in her life.” My challenges don’t have to be as big as battling cancer for me to relate to the idea that sometimes it’s not “just hair.” And in the end I think I can help someone and still feel like myself…perhaps even more like myself.
So I made an appointment for yesterday, Earth Day. I thought the day was a good one, as by donating my hair (recycling!) I’ll use less water and hair products, which also means less waste or recycling of hair product bottles. This Crystal Gayle impersonator has some atoning to do after all.
So here’s how it went:
My awesome hair stylist Tracy whom I- ahem- hadn’t seen in awhile, measured my hair and then snipped off some split ends
She added a hair band (donated hair must be bound) making sure there was at least 8 inches of hair beneath it
Whack! Tracy made the cut above the hair band
Voila! 9 inches of hair ready to donate
I got to check out my new do after just a little more snip snip, wash, and blow dry
Then I went to an Earth Day birthday party, where friends and I wished the new owner of my hair a full and speedy recovery and a long, happy, healthy life.
There are a handful of organizations you can donate hair to, but I chose Pantene Beautiful Lengths because they provide women’s wigs free of charge to the American Cancer Society, who also provides resources and emotional support. They felt like the best fit for honoring Linda. Their minimum ponytail donation length is 8 inches (other organizations range from 8-12 inches) and you don’t have to be a woman to donate.
It felt so good to do, I really wish I hadn’t waited so long, and I’m sure I will do it again. And it doesn’t take nearly as much as you might think. For example, donating another 8-inch ponytail now would still leave me with a chin-length bob. In other words, you don’t have to have Crystal Gayle hair to donate.
So what do you think? Ready to shed 8 inches or more? Or maybe you already have? Tell me about it!