I want to introduce you to Emily. I've known this girl since I started hair school in 2008. Back then she was just another girl going through the same thing a bunch of other girls were going through. From a distance, she was an absolutely a beautiful girl. Naturally, this was incredibly annoying.
We served on the beauty school student council together, and that's when I got to know Emily better. Emily was not only beautiful, but this girl could command a room. She was the student body president at the time and if something needed done, Emily got it done, and she didn't give a hoot if people disagreed. Beauty school was a clicky place, with plenty of drama. Emily made a point to stand up for the little guy, and make our little school a better place for everyone.
We soon became partners in crime in the student council, and even though she was nearly 10 years my junior, I learned a lot from our short time together. I was her vice president and we got some things accomplished. It was a lot of fun. We spent a lot of time together at school, I got to know her and I got to know her hair.
There are two things I can tell you about Emily. She's an incredibly genuine person with an inner beauty that truly matches her outer beauty. She's also a natural blond (gasp!) with more hair per square inch of scalp than anyone I've ever encountered. This girl has a seriously thick head of absolutely stunning hair.
Fast forward to 2012. Emily is working as a hairstylist with her fiance in Phoenix, Arizona. I know this because I've stalked her on Facebook. She's one of those people that you root for and love to watch succeed. She's one of those people that puts her mind to things, gets it done, and doesn't apologize. I've been thrilled to see her succeed in the hair industry, even when she's moved half way across the country and back again. It's not easy starting over in the hair business, in a new state, but Emily made it look easy more than once.
Deciding to Donate Her Hair
On New Year's Eve 2012 Emily got married. She posted a few photos on Facebook. She was a glowing bride. A couple of short weeks later, she started announcing that she was going to shave her long, dark hair and donate it to Locks of Love.
She got my attention. Lots of people donate their hair, but far fewer shave it. I got a hold of Emily to see if she'd let me share her story with you here. Somewhere along the way I assumed she was doing this as a part of a "St. Baldrick's Day" event, or something similar and was trying to raise a specific amount of money for the cause. I seriously nearly fell off my chair when Emily told me, "I guess I didn't even think about money. If I can just get the word out there, and grow the support community, then that stuff will follow. Money is necessary for research, but to me a fellow bald girl or friend with a bob would make me feel SO much stronger."
Emily explained that she wasn't donating her hair as a part of an event. This was something she decided to experience to humbly give what she could to help the confidence of someone else that was fighting for their life. "People always tell me that I'm lucky to have this hair. I take it for granted. I figure it's a humbling act for me, and when a cancer patient loses their hair it's life changing for them! Besides, I know what great hair my scalp naturally produces, so why not let someone who's in the fight of their life get those compliments that I've taken for granted. They earned it!"
I had to ask her about her family's reaction and her very new husband's thoughts on having a wife with no hair. "My family's on board," she said. "My grandmother and great aunts are survivors! My best friend, Erin, decided to join me, cutting her hair into a pixie cut from equally long hair. She'll be with me that day. No one on either end of the wig (donor or recipient) should have to do that alone. As far as my husband, his only concern is my feelings if I have a "lumpy head". I guess he just won't be able to keep the jokes to himself."
Emily is looking forward to the feeling of empowerment, the confidence she'll have to have because she can't hide behind her hair anymore, and to hopefully catch a glimpse of the strength so many women have to have daily when they involuntarily lose their hair because of cancer treatments. She had only once concern to share with me. As a natural blond, she's darkened her eyebrows to match her dark hair for years. She's not so sure what to do about the big change to her face with lighter eyebrows.
Your confidence in this journey is incredible, Emily.
When I asked Emily how she wanted all of us to be impacted by her donation she, again impressed me with her answer, "Chances are you know someone who's been affected by cancer. I hope people are inspired to help the cause in any way, by donating money, donating hair, or donating time. Anything. I want to inspire people to be more selfless."
When it was all said and done Emily proudly said, "To every breast cancer survivor, or angel who's journey with cancer has ended, we support you and did this to honor your memory!"
See more photos of Emily and her friend Erin as they donated their hair to Locks of Love.
How can you help? I hope you are inspired to do something. Check out the Locks of Love website, and if you're inspired to make a donation, please follow the links to learn how. If you're a hair donor, I'd love to hear your story. Share it with us here. I will be checking in with Emily periodically about her hair donation, stay tuned for updates, her feelings in the months following her donation, and stories of how her donation has inspired others.
Emily works as a hairstylist at Sincerely Yours Salon in Phoenix, Arizona.