Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I have this thing about hair.

My son came home from school the other day and told me that one little girl in his class cut the hair off two other little girls. She just walked up behind them while they were coloring and chopped off a huge section of each girl's hair.

If my daughter had been the target of her drive-by cutting, my husband would have had to keep me in check when I confronted that situation. Can you imagine being the teacher and having to call those girls' parents?

When I was little--maybe my daughter's age--I saw a documentary on the Holocaust. One image above all others stuck with me. It was an image of the Nazis shaving women's heads. It was the ultimate act of humiliation, objectification, and psychological cruelty to a people who were already persecuted way beyond the understanding of my then seven-year-old self.

The horror of it never left me.

And maybe this explains why I was so upset when my daughter cut her hair off. And why I cried when the dog had to be shaved down. And why I couldn't bare to look when Joyce shaved her head to win a Fast Forward on Amazing Race 7. I had nightmares about that damn episode for weeks.

Like Joyce kept repeating to herself while they shaved her head, "It's just hair. It's just hair." And I know that. But it doesn't keep me from getting completely bent out of shape.

Which is why it hurt my heart so much when my son was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata when he was a toddler.

Alopecia Areata is a condition in which a person's own immune system mistakenly attacks healthy hair. It can cause patchy baldness and in some cases, complete loss of all hair.

Researching his condition on the web was probably not a good idea. The discussions of how it affects people's lives and the pictures of kids and adults with hair loss upset me so much. Not that my son would have ever known it.

People would ask about his bald patch all the time. They would tell me over and over again that they figured he had a brain condition, tumor, or disease or had recently had surgery. I would explain about Alopecia Areata and people would often react like he had cancer.

I've never been one to fuss much with my own hair. Once I got past my preteen years of spraying and ironing my bangs into a gravity-defying wall, I've pretty much just gone with medium length and straight. Most days, I wear it in a cheerleader style ponytail, as far up and off my neck as possible. My hair is very thick.

For years I've been wanting to donate my hair to Locks of Love, but I've never had the patience to grow the ten inches that are required to donate. My hair is so heavy, it gives me a headache if I let it get too long. It bugs me and I end up getting it cut.

Not this year.

2007 is the year I donate my hair to Locks of Love.

It is such a simple, easy thing to do. The majority of children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to Alopecia Areata. How could I not?

I measured my hair last night. I have six inches to donate so far. Maybe after I complete the only other goal I have set for this year (running the Race for the Cure in September) I'll cut my hair off in celebration.

My son's hair grew back. It took about a year, which is typical. He hasn't had any more patches. Sometimes I wonder if he was maybe misdiagnosed. Maybe I'm just wishing he was.

One thing I know for sure. I may be willing to pass on my hair to someone who needs it. But I am not willing to pass on my hang-up to my kid.

It's just hair, after all.

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