Every year around Valentine’s Day, the Alumni Scholars Club at the University of California – Los Angeles holds a Locks of Love drive. Long-haired Samaritans, both men and women, come from miles around to shear their tresses in the name of charity – including me. I chopped off and donated my golden locks for the third time last week. Oh, and I did I mention the minimum length to donate is 10 inches?
When I was little, my hair was my kryptonite. Stick straight and super flat, it was often a point of contention for my mother and grandmother. In an effort to give it some volume, I often slept on sponge curlers – especially the night before a big event, like Easter Sunday or school picture day. The result: I bore a striking resemblance to Shirley Temple. Only the curls rarely lasted more than a few hours.
When I was in the 4th grade I could take it no longer – in true ’80s tradition, I got a perm. Thankfully that only lasted for about 2 years. By the time I entered junior high, my hair was back to being straight and long. It stayed that way throughout high school and for most of college. It was like my security blanket.
But at some point, I just stopped being so wrapped up in my locks and decided to donate them. it such an easy way to help someone. I’d heard about Locks of Love, a nonprofit that makes wigs for children who have lost their hair due to medical illness. I researched the qualifications to donate and went for it. The first time I did it, my stylist came to my house. She divided my hair into 4 ponytails; cut off each one with a quick snip and then we put them in a plastic bag and sent them off to the organization.
It was later that I learned about the annual event at UCLA. I participated for the first time in 2011. I was so excited to contribute to a larger initiative – and to be surrounded by others who were making the cut. It was awesome to watch people walk in with hair cascading down their backs only to walk out with it barely hitting their chins!
Even though I was mentally prepared, experiencing this kind of dramatic change is still nerve-racking. The haircut itself is free, provided by students from the Vidal Sassoon Academy. I had to put a lot of trust in a total stranger to make me look good, but at the same time, my hair will always grow back. Should something go terribly awry, I have the comfort of knowing it’s only temporary.
It sat down in the chair around 12:30 p.m. armed with images of styles I thought would work for my hair (i.e. Diana Agron’s cute bob). Ruri, my stylist, carefully divided my hair into 2 ponytails, grabbed a measuring tape to find the 10-inch mark and then it was off with my hair! Just a few snips in a few seconds and 3 years’ worth of growth was gone. It may have taken 2 hours, but Ruri did a fantastic job. I was really pleased with the end result and received lots of compliments from my co-workers when I returned to the office.
Hopefully 3 years from now, I’ll be able to make another donation.
Interested in donating your locks to Locks of Love? Learn more here.