My main gripes:
• People (complete strangers often) feeling it’s their business to comment to me about my body, and what they think I should DO with my body, implying that to NOT donate it is VERY terrible
• People telling me to donate to a charity that’s really not the best
So now, after YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS of railing against the judgments and railing against people commenting on my body and railing against people engaging themselves in my own hair business…..I cut off my hair, and donated it to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program. And of course as soon as everybody sees that I got my haircut (even the TOLL BOOTH LADY made a comment) the immediate question is “Did you donate it?”
I mostly shrug and say "Yes, but not to LoL." Then I have to explain why. Whatever.
But I’m deeply bothered by the fact that EVERYBODY IS ASKING, and I STILL feel judged, I still feel frustrated that I have to answer to everybody about what I DID WITH MY OWN HAIR.
Honestly, let’s get real here. Donating hair is nice and all, but a lot of the hair is unusable, and in my opinion, donating your hair is a pretty low-key charity thing to do. I’ve done way more strenuous charity work, but somehow, I get SO MUCH PRAISE OH MY GOOOOOD for simply chopping off my ponytail and stuffing it into a baggie and mailing it off. You’d think I actually found the cure for cancer sometimes, the way people gush. Let’s be real. I did diddly squat. My hair grew. This involved zero effort. I slept. I worked. I played. I did schoolwork. I could have sat around on my butt for a few years and gotten the same result. I could have been Rip Van Winkle and have gotten the same result. Donating to a hair charity is easy – at least it was for me, and I was pretty attached to my hair. It is easy, and it gives us warm fuzzies and it’s NOTICEABLE so it’s easy to get attention.
And honestly, I hate it. I hate that I have to answer to everybody about what I did with my body to validate my decision to cut my hair. I hate that I feel like I’m actively reinforcing the idea that donating your hair is the pinnacle of selfless giving (it isn’t) simply because my cut was drastic and epic and therefore gets me attention, which means everybody asks, which means I have to answer. By simply cutting my hair and answering questions honestly, I feel like I’m reinforcing the idea that it’s okay to ask someone what they did with their body, did they conform appropriately to the required charity act, did they do what was expected of them? I’m not saying donating is bad or evil or conformist –- but the pressure to donate and the idea that it’s perfectly fine to endlessly ask others what they’re doing with their body isn’t. Stopping somebody with gorgeous long hair at the farmer’s market to say how lovely their hair is and are they growing it to donate it is NOT OKAY. You may think you’re giving that person the attention they want for donating, and you may be...but you also run the risk of frustrating the hell out of them because maybe they like their long hair and don’t want to be judged for their preference with disapproval. Having long hair does not mean you are morally obligated to donate it – by which I mean I’ve gotten enough of the guilty-looks from people who seem to think if I have long hair, I should be at the salon RIGHT NOW cutting it off to donate it, not just if-I-happen-to-cut-it-I-should-donate-it.
Yes, I donated my hair. I was cutting it anyway. It was a 100% selfish decision, and my decision to donate was simply a “oh, well, I guess this should go to some use” – I wasn’t gonna just throw it away out of spite. But I did not grow out my hair to donate it, and I did not cut it purely to donate it, and cutting it was a vain act on my part that should not garner me such praise simply because after my vain haircut I took my leftovers in a to-go bag. Like….go me, rah rah rah?
Let’s be real. Donating’s great. I’m not saying it’s not great. My intention is absolutely not to say “oh my god don’t donate your hair” -- but it’s also very, very easy (I mean, you might have a hard time growing out your hair time-wise, but I think in the grand scheme of things, growing hair’s pretty painless), and the amount of praise I get for donating mine just seems unreasonable. Maybe it’s because we’re all vain, so we like a charity that encourages us to get a cute haircut, and oh yeah, we get totally noticed for it and therefore get to brag to everyone who comments. And it’s nice that there’s something easy that people can do to help a cause. Easy is good. But I guess what I’m getting at is that while it’s easy and good…the amount of praise is kinda nutsy. It’s a charity act that’s easy and gets you lots of warm fuzzies because you get to brag a lot (nature of the beast: you have long hair and chop it, people WILL notice and comment and ask if you donated...it’s unavoidable to NOT sound like you’re bragging unless you go on a ramble like me).
I’ve done a lot of volunteer work in my time, I’ve donated a LOT of time and effort to community service work (APO!) and yet the thing I get praised for is sitting in a salon and putting my hair in a bag. I don’t want praise for my vanity. It embarrasses me because while others view me as sooooooo selfless or something, I did it for me, not for the kid with alopecia (or cancer, if you like buzzwords...) (was that mean, I didn’t mean it to be mean or condescending, dear audience). I don’t merit praise for that. And I feel bad mutely accepting it. I feel that by accepting the praise (what else can you do when you’re in an elevator and don’t have time to ramble on about why you don’t deserve it?) I am actively spurring on the notion that it’s okay to judge people’s personal bodily decisions, it’s okay to pressure people about their own personal body decisions, and donating hair is a charity act akin to curing cancer single-handedly. (Seriously, the gushing I’ve received...you really would think I’m Dr. Hayley, Curer Of Cancer. Which would be nice, granted...)
So here I am – I felt bad being pressured by strangers for years. And now that I did what is Good (capital G), I feel bad for accepting praise, because my intention wasn’t to DO GOOD, it was to get a haircut.
I don't want to sound so overly critical. I feel like this entry is probably a bit harsh. :-/