Hair is so much a part of a woman’s looks and identity. So what makes women decide to give it up for a good cause? Many women are donating their hair to make wigs for women with cancer or survivors of the disease may be able to afford or avail of, for free. Women who suffer from cancer or have survived it, often say that of all the losses that the disease brings, hair fall is one of the biggest traumas they face. Firstly, surviving the painful therapy is harrowing enough; and then to watch an important part of one’s self-confidence drop away in this manner is doubly tough. And yet, here are some bold women who have thought nothing of going bald for the cause.
Arpitha Shankar had not, until last year, given even a thought to letting go of her hair. “I thought it was an integral part of who I was. I was one of those who would cry if I didn’t get a haircut of my liking,” she recalls. But then, as she started reading about cancer and the struggles women faced to restore some degree of normality to their lives, she came upon stories of women who thought they had lost their identities. “Around the same time, I also came across campaigns where women donated their hair for this cause,” she says. She thought about it for a year, then decided to shave her head. “I see it inspired by a selfish motive,” she reflects. “I wanted to prove to myself that was beyond my looks and that my hair was only a small part of my identity and that it did not define me.”
Arpitha took her three-year-old daughter with her to the salon, freaking the child out. “She warned me that her father wouldn’t like the idea,” Arpitha recounts, amazed at seeing a new side to her daughter. “But by doing this, I showed her that a woman has more to her than her looks. And that what matters is a strong personality, and standing up for what she believes in. As for my husband, he planted a kiss on my forehead when I went home and said that he was proud of me.”
Babita Jaishankar, as part of her profession as an image makeover consultant, has dealt with women who have lost their hair for various reasons. “I’d often tell them that one has to be so confident in one’s own skin that a hairstyle shouldn’t matter. I wanted to practice what I preached and took the plunge,” she says.
Babita also has a popular blog and a strong following on social media. She posted her experience which was widely shared. “The post went viral and people started approaching me in public places. One day a girl approached me and gave me a tight hug. She said that she had lost her mother to cancer the previous year. She said that what I had done was the closest one could do to understand what a cancer patient goes through,” says Babita, who uses public transport, flaunting her look and celebrating baldness. Chennai-based stylist Sushanth Shyamsundar believes that bald is bold, a theme he is popularising #baldisbold on social media by posting photos of women who are bald and beautiful.
“If anyone wishes to donate her hair for cancer patients, I’ll do it for her for free, provided the length of the hair is 10 inches or more. I specialise in short hairdos, but of late, I have been promoting women who have shaved their heads, not only to donate but also spread awareness on cancer. Cope with Cancer is one organisation I support that works extensively to support cancer patients and survivors.”