I had finished one sweaty bike ride too many last summer when I made the vow:
The long hair had to go.
You may be able to empathize with my misery. You may know the feeling, biking on one of those summer days when it’s 100 degrees in the shade, when a bike helmet combined with long hair makes it feel like you have a fiery hot brick oven encapsulating your head.
So I decided to do it. I had known for a few years that there was a good non-for-profit organization out there that did something with donated hair, but I didn’t really know any details. Fortunately my sister-in-law Pamela, a rather talented hair stylist, told me about Locks of Love.
What is Locks of Love? The website explains it best:
Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children 18 years and younger suffering from long-term medical hair loss.
We meet a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics. Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition known as alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The prostheses we provide helps to restore self-esteem & confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers.
Sounds great, I thought, let’s do this thing.
However, like many-if-not-most long-haired men, my ponytail was more the product of deep-rooted laziness and a reluctance to take care of my hair than a desire to prance about with long, gleaming locks. My hair looked plenty long, but a good portion of it apparently suffered from split ends, so my usable hair didn’t meet the 10” minimum-length requirement (now that’s a manhood-rattling phrase if ever I heard one).
I really wanted to just lose the hair then and there, but I figured I had existed in this long-haired incarnation for eight years, so what would be another six months? And it was for a good cause. So Pamela trimmed off the split ends and told me to check back with her in about six months to see if it was long enough for Locks of Love.
Six months came and went. I happened to be at Pamela’s place after the holidays and she asked me if I still wanted to cut it off. I said, yep, if it’s long enough let’s do it, and two minutes later she handed me my ponytail.
Eight years of being a long-haired “Zonker” look-alike had now come to an abrupt end, and people wanted answers. The most common question was if I was interviewing for another job. Fortunately, Locks of Love is pretty danged easy to sell.
Men, if you have long hair but secretly yearn to lop it off, now there is a way to do it without losing face. No more worrying about “Dude, why’d ya sell out?” jabs from your friends, co-workers and associates, and no more subsidizing the hair-tie and Drano/Liquid Plumber industry.
Locks of Love offers a great and free way to do something for a kid in need, and take it from me, you’ll feel good about it. So please consider donating your hair if you are planning on cutting it. It’s as easy as putting a check in the mail. Or if you overhear someone talking about cutting their hair, help spread the word!
Here are the specifics outlined on the website:
We accept 10" minimum hair length (tip to tip), however, longer lengths, especially blonde, black, and red are in greatest demand.
We do not accept wigs, falls or synthetic hair.
Please bundle hair in ponytail or braid.
Hair needs to be clean, dry, placed in a plastic bag, then padded envelope.
We need hair from men and women, young and old, all colors and races.
Hair may be colored or permed, but not bleached or chemically damaged (if unsure, ask your stylist).
Hair swept off the floor is not usable.
Hair cut years ago is usable if it has been stored in a ponytail or braid.
Hair that is short, gray, or unsuitable for children will be separated from the ponytails and sold at fair market value to offset the cost of manufacturing.
You may pull curly hair straight to measure the minimum 10".
The majority of all hair donated comes from children who wish to help other children.
Layered hair may be divided into multiple ponytails for donation.
Please note: Anyone can cut your hair as long as the above guidelines are followed.
By the way, as I prepared to send my hair to Locks of Love, my co-worker Rebekah mentioned that she had been saving a long braid for a while. It turned out she’d had a vague concept that there was a good place to donate her hair, but not knowing anything else, the braid had been bagged and was just sitting in her desk. So I got to send in two good hair samples… it’s contagious!
Copyright 2005, Carter O’Brien
Image: Carter O’Brien (braid)
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