On Vanity

Imagine how difficult it would be to fight your body as it attacks itself, while having also to endure looks, smirks, jokes and laughs as you walk by.

We’re told not to worry about what others think, that it’s OK to be unique, be yourself. You must understand the importance of self-image. After my surgeries I was left with some gnarly scars on my stomach. Although they are slowly fading, I can still, three years later, feel phantom tightness or stretching feelings from them. I’m somewhat self-conscious of these scars. I’ve shown them to a few close friends and family, but mostly I keep them covered up. It’s a sort of love hate relationship with them. I love that I have them because they are a sign that I’ve been healed. I hate that I have them because they remind me that my body decided to attack itself.

As children, losing your hair is a traumatic thing. At a young age, things that set you apart usually alienate you from the other kids, which is hard to deal with. We’re always told not to worry about what others think, but being one’s self takes time to learn. When I was still suffering from Ulcerative Colitis I would have loved to feel normal. That’s why, when I decided to circumnavigate the globe on a journey of self-discovery after winning my battle with UC and the surgeries that cured it, I decided also to let my hair grow out and donate it to Locks of Love.

Now that I’ve been on this trek for five months, my hair is about as long as I’ve ever let it get. After the last few pictures that I’ve posted on this blog with my wild poof of hair, I realized that I’ve been getting a lot of comments from my friends poking fun. I’m used to this, as we all give each other a healthy amount of razzing and my hair is, I’ll admit, wild and ridiculous. Then it struck me. People are vain. If others will make fun of someone for having too much hair, they will certainly do the same for not having enough. When I think of the humorous comments well-meaning friends have made, I think too of the looks I get on occasion from people walking by. I understand how difficult it must be to fight your own body attacking itself, but having to worry about people on the street passing by, staring at your bald head too?

This illustrates perfectly the need for such donations.

The idea of helping a child struck by sickness feel normal was something that appealed to me. Unfortunately when I was suffering from UC there was no wig or other garment I could put on to achieve that feeling, but if I can help someone else feel a bit closer to normal with a simple haircut, I’m more than willing to help. I’m secure enough in my place in the world to not really worry one way or the other. I wonder, though, how many eight year olds with Leukemia have been able to build that same resilience. How many 14 year old girls starting high school could stand the looks, the smirks, the jokes? Thinking of this makes it quite easy for me to bear the looks, the laughs, and the discomfort of long, poofy hair.

This is not a plea to my friends and readers to stop bugging me to get a proper haircut. (They also mention something about a real job as well…) I’m glad my friends and family care enough to want me to look healthy and happy. It’s not a guilt trip to get anyone else to donate hair, as that should be your personal choice. That choice is quiet and anticlimactic. You will probably get a postcard thanking you, no pictures of kids in a wig, no letter a year later on how a child is doing, these organizations have more important things to do.

My reason for posting this is simple. I’m letting my hair grow wild on purpose. There is a method to my madness, as there is in all the things I do!


Comments are closed.