On the eve of my 21st birthday, many moons ago…when Twilight wasn’t murdering the minds of young women and Rick Santorum wasn’t attempting to murder my rights…I got my bangs put back in.
Bangs are a very hard choice to make if you’re a girl. Trust me on this. Either you have a face perfectly suited for the straight-across fringe, or you’re more suited to the swept-across, angled look. God help you if you pick the wrong one. (May the odds be ever in your favor. YES.)
I have a face that can tolerate a full fringe, so that’s what I went for. It was slightly too short, but once I got home and fiddled around with it, it looked adorable.
The next night, my 21st birthday, my friends took me out to Huskies on the UConn campus for some good old-fashioned…sandwich eating. If you’ve seen How I Met Your Mother, ‘sandwiches’ is a euphemism for smoking pot. I was NOT smoking pot, but you can see how I used this euphemism to work for my benefit. We ate a lot of sandwiches. One particular sandwich was lethal, and I ended up getting into a verbal altercation with one of the guys at the sandwich bar.
“Why did you get bangs?” he hollered over the Pussycat Doll din. I yelled back, “Because they’re ADORABLE.” Because, they are. He proceeded to yell back “Guys HATE short hair on girls! You don’t look attractive like that!”
Now, I have it on good authority that many guys, many VERY attractive guys, think short hair is cute on girls. But keep in mind, I was newly 21, I was out of my mind on sandwiches, and I was really, really insecure. Plus, this being about a month after I lost the majority of my weight, I was just asking for a nice big shot of vulnerability.
Nevertheless, even when I chopped my hair off a year later for fun, I still remembered that guys’ comment. I didn’t want to cut my hair again for a very, very long time. It stuck with me every single time I went to hairdresser determined to pull off the gamine look and driving back home with just a trim.
Now flash forward to this week. My hair was starting to take over my head. Mom called it ‘The Rope.’ In yoga, whenever I rose up from utanasa into tadasana my hair braid would fall back with such a weight that I would literally stumble back, ruining my center and forcing me to regain some inch of sangfroid before continuing. There was so much of it in my shower drain board I thought it was one of my long lost cousins from Italy. (Come at me, amici.)
I was pissed. Pissed at how ridiculous my value on hair was. Pissed that I was letting whatever was growing out of my head define my femininity. Pissed that a guy stuffed with sandwiches at a bar was telling me what or what didn’t make me pretty. Pissed that I let my exterior define my worth in the interior. (Can you tell I’ve been writing a ton of rhetorical papers lately about reading images in culture? Woof.)
Now, I’m almost done a year of grad school. I have an adorable nephew who loves me no matter what I look like.
And I want to end cancer. I want to punch it in the face. If it had a face. It’d probably be a really ugly, Ann Coulter-esque hag face, worthy of a good suckerpunch.
I know, what does cancer have to do with my image issues and bangs?
Trust me, I have a point here. This isn’t a random segue.
This past Tuesday, I was scrolling through my facebook when I saw a friend of mine advertising a St. Baldrick’s event on the UConn campus, to be held on Thursday. St. Baldrick’s is an organization that donates hair to children’s cancer wards, much like Locks of Love, and also allows participants to shave their heads in order to stand with those who lose their hair to cancer. Now, there was no way I was going to shave my head. I’m pretty sure my mother would kill me.
But I had hair to give. And I had a cute picture or two for inspiration. And I had an idea.
My head feels a thousand times lighter. So does my heart.
13 inches, all told, are now going to be made into a wig for some little girl out there who is also feeling a bit vulnerable and self-conscious. However, she has no choice in the matter of having or not having a full head of hair, due to this unforgiving and indiscriminate disease.
I hope she rocks the wig and that cancer. My hair is just a Band-Aid. The real balm is the final cure.
Now I’m off to find about 203984 headbands to wear with my new haircut.
I’ve had enough, this is my prayer, that I’ll die living just as free as my hair.
PS. The girl next to me in the barber chairs actually did get her entire head shaved. It was EPIC, but I’m pretty sure my head would freeze if I dared it. Plus, I would never hear the end of it from the family.
PPS. My dad turns 57 today. Go on his Twitter and call him an old fart for me, okay?