Commentary – To cut or not cut is your choice

Pearl Lorentzen

Hair is a funny thing. On your head or your pet, it’s a beautiful thing, but in your food it’s disgusting.

I recently cut 10 to 14 inches off my hair to donate to Angel Hair For Kids. It is a Canadian non-profit that makes free wigs for kids with cancer. The loss of hair due to chemotherapy can be hard on cancer patients. This is at least the third time I’ve done this.

As a child, I always had long hair. In my twenties, I decided to donate my hair. I enjoyed the reactions. Over the years, I’ve gone shorter each time, but never quite to the level of a buzz-cut, an even half to couple centimetre around the head.

I’ve seen several women rock this hair style, at least one who did it to raise money for cancer research. In many European and cultures heavily influenced by European cultures, women traditionally had long hair and men short. This is changing. For once, women have the better end of the deal. Women are allowed, without much cultural backlash, to have ankle length to buzz-cut.

People tend to assume, men with long hair, shoulder length and longer, are making a statement. If they are First Nations, people assume it has to do with reconnecting with cultural roots or rebelling against the norm.

For some this is true, as “men with braids” is a movement. A more accepted use of long hair on men is the man bun. This hipster trend is quite common in cities and commercials. I’m not sure how it would fly in northern rural Alberta.

I know of at least one young man who grew out his white blonde hair past his waist originally to donate. I keep meaning to ask if there’s been any backlash.

While donating hair is fairly common, there’s also some people who sell their hair. One blog listed price from $100 to $4,000.

In literature, Jo, in Little Women, loves her hair. It is the only part of her that she thinks is pretty. For some reason, which I can’t remember at the moment, she needs money, so she cuts her hair and sells it.

In a much more graphic display, in Les Misérables, one of the women, ends up in terrible poverty and sells her hair and teeth.

Both of these books were written in the 1800s in a time when most women had long hair. Interestingly, when Jane Austen, not the author of either book, was writing in the early 1800s, there was a short period in British and European history when a few wealthy women cut their hair very short and didn’t wear wigs.

There’s a Christmas story about Meg and Guy, i.e. Magi, a couple who love each other very much. They are very poor. Meg has beautiful long hair, which she is very proud of. Guy has his grandfather’s pocket watch, but doesn’t have a chain for it. It’s a few days before Christmas, both of them want to buy the other something special for Christmas, but neither has any money. Guy sees a beautiful hair clip, which he knows that Meg will love. Meg sees a nice gold chain, which will be perfect for the watch. Guy decides to sell his watch to raise the money to buy the comb, and Meg sells her hair to buy the watch chain.

The two of them bond over their misguided, but loving sacrifices.

Hair is something that most people have. It also grows back. If you decide to grow it out, donate it, sell it, keep it the same, or change it up, it’s your choice.

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