Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bald and beautiful

      So yesterday I made a small contribution in the fight against kids cancer.  I say small because I recognize that it will take much more than the $900-ish dollars I earned or even the $24k my team earned to make a sizable dent in finding cures or even just better treatments for kids cancer.

    Now I recognize on a different level than money, I made a much bigger contribution. I have had more conversations in the last 24 hours about kids cancer research than I probably have in ever.  When you go from having hair halfway down your back on Friday to no hair on Saturday it makes people stare, it makes people ask questions, sometimes appropriately and sometimes not :) Now as someone who chose to shave my head I expected the stares and questions and am not bothered by them. (and having a child of a different race has made me well aware that most people do not know how to ask questions appropriately.) I have also been the recipient of many compliments.

   My goal in shaving was to raise some money, donate hair ( was 17" donated when I cut it yesterday), stand beside one precious little boy (Mr M), lets lots of kids know I believe in them and their fight and most importantly strike up some conversations with people about research for kids cancer. I think I have accomplished all of those.

   What I did not expect is what I would gain from  the process of shaving. I have often felt that as a female in this society I was identified on some level by my hair (how long it is, how styled it is, what color it is and so on.) Yesterday I took that identification away. My hair is a quarter of an inch long now and I have never felt more feminine. Yeah I have felt pretty at times when dressed up for weddings or special events, but now it is different. Now I get to let me shine through. I get to be vulnerable as people ask questions, as people try and identify male or female. Please note the vulnerable thing is hard and scary for me. And identifying myself as beautiful is even harder.  But I have never doubted the internal me, the me that loves and cares with all my heart, the person who sometimes forgets a boundary when caring about a friend. That part of me I knew/know is good. Now I get the opportunity to let that strength be what people see because I can't hide behind my hair. My femininity, my beauty comes out in the caring I have for others, my strength comes out as I say "nope I am not fighting cancer, but lots of little kids are and they need our help. I shaved to financially contribute to St Baldrick's, but also to make people aware that this is an area we need more money for research." Now I get to show myself in my actions and in some ways I get to do it while thumbing my nose at the way society defines beauty.

    Today I see the beauty that my friends have always told me was there. I hope to hang on to that, but I am well aware that there will be times I fail at holding on to that truth.  That vulnerability and societal perceptions will creep in and test that.  As a victim of past abuse I will stumble, the voice in the night will come back. But for today I hang on to the beauty I see in the mirror. I hang on to all the people who have called, texted and commented that I "rock" the bald look, that my "head is nicely shaped", that I am beautiful.

 So tonight as I think it through, the lesson I want my son, my middle school students, the cancer patients young and old, male and female, bald or not to know is that their beauty is so much more than their hair or any part of their physical appearance. Their beauty is the way they care, the way they persevere, the strength visible in their eyes and their character. Their beauty is who they are, how they carry themselves, how they radiate from the inside, and they LOOK beautiful !



Immediately after
Glad to have support

Little Man kissing my head. He loves how soft it is, but misses the long hair!