Hair does not make you beautiful

She sits down at the screen. What does she see? Flowing hair atop a model’s head, the standard of beauty. She sits down at a mirror. What does she see? Scars, bruises, a shadow of herself, no hair.

When I heard the snips of my hair meeting the blade, I braced myself for the change that was about to come, still confident in my decision. I was going to donate my hair. I had always feared the change in my appearance, but recently, I felt the need for that change. No matter how it looked, I realized my hair would grow back.

But the hair of a cancer patient going through chemotherapy wouldn’t. Not for a long time, at least. It’s because of this that I donated 10 inches of my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, an organization that creates and distributes free, real-hair wigs to both girls and women battling cancer and hair loss from chemotherapy. My intentions were purely selfless; I wasn’t looking to do something to improve my image or pretend I’m some saint. I figured if I was going to cut my hair anyway, I might as well contribute to a great cause.

After donating my hair, I got to thinking. Organizations like Locks of Love and Pantene Beautiful Lengths have the same message: Donate your hair to make a women with cancer feel beautiful!
But, how wrong is that? How vain is that? Do you see the problem here? Women already face problems meeting standards of beauty, so when we tell cancer patients suffering hair loss that they need a wig to be pretty again, or expect them to drape their heads with scarves, we’re creating more problems with society’s expectations of beauty.

Hair doesn’t determine beauty. Not its length, color, texture, or presence.

I fully support cancer organizations. They aren’t the problem. It’s the mindset, the message that we’re sending that the piece of the beauty puzzle cancer patients are missing is hair. In a world filled with pink ribbons during October, it is almost as if people want us to think that cancer is beautiful.

Cancer is not beautiful. It’s a horrible, ugly disease. Yet we and the media have gotten used to associating cancer with beauty, and that is wrong. Nothing about cancer is beautiful, and we can’t be in denial about it no longer. We can’t continue to deceive cancer patients with these lies and false encouragements.
Cancer doesn’t make them beautiful. Wearing a wig doesn’t make them beautiful. They’re beautiful because they are strong. They have hope. They are fighters.

Exterior characteristics can’t define beauty. A destructive disease can’t, either. It’s time we destroy that image.

Because if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then maybe we need to look at the world differently.
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, maybe it’s time we opened our eyes.