Once upon a time, there was a little girl who wanted to grow her hair very long, like a fairytale princess. She saw other little girls with their long, flowing hair, and thought, Yep! That is the look for me!
But this little girl had a very confusing medical condition. When she would stand up, she would fall down, sometimes even passing out completely! This made doing lots of normal little girl things very difficult, and sometimes even dangerous. In addition to falling down, the little girl would get very sick and tremble and shiver if she got too cold or sweat and melt if she got too hot. Sometimes she would get cold when everyone else was warm and sometimes she would get warm when everyone else was cold. It was hard to keep up, and the little girl was very disappointed. She had trouble washing her hair and drying it. It felt heavy and when she put it in a ponytail, it made her head ache. Some of the medications she took even made her hair fall out more than it should, and she began to think everyone could see the thin spots at her temples.
The simplest solution was to cut it. It made the little girl very sad because every time she looked in the mirror, it reminded her of all the normal everyday things that had become so hard for her.
As the years went by, the little girl kept her hair short. At first, she put color in it to make it more exciting, but soon the chemicals also made her sick and she had to stop. Headbands, barrettes, or any kind of pretty hair thing could set off a headache or a pinch or a pull that would make her very uncomfortable.
So she left her hair alone.
The little girl tried very hard to take care of herself. She saw lots of doctors and tried lots of things to feel better. After a lot of things not working out, the little girl finally figured some things out and slowly but surely, she got a little bit better.
Year after year, the little girl improved just enough that she could see she was headed in the right direction. It may not look like much to others, but the little girl knew she was finally coming out from under the dark cloud that had followed her for so many years.
During this time, the little girl continued to leave her hair alone.
She could tell she was stronger because she was able to wash her own hair again. She could tell she was improving because she could finally hold the hairdryer and withstand its drying powers for longer and longer periods of time.
Pretty soon, the little girl realized that her hair was growing…and growing…and growing! All the things that she did to help her health seemed to help her hair be healthy too. She also noticed that her hair wasn’t quite the bother and trigger for symptoms it was once was.
So she left it alone.
The little girl’s hair grew and it grew. The little girl learned to run, and she was happy. She hurt her foot, but she learned not to give up, and she was happy. The little girl moved to a new castle, even though it was scary, and she was happy. She figured out how to make new friends and stay in touch with older ones, and she was happy. The little girl looked in the mirror and saw with each inch that grew out of her head how many inches she had grown in life, and she was happy.
Now, the little girl’s hair was very long and very strong, and very much like that of a fairytale princess. It was everything she ever wanted. She braided it in fishtails and frenches. She brushed it and used fancy conditioner that smelled yummy and made her hair soft. She took very good care of this precious gift whose importance she only knew.
Then one day, the little girl found out about another very confusing medical condition that other little girls (and boys!) have. The condition causes their hair to fall out or not to grow at all. No matter how well the rest of them was, these little girls could not grow their hair to be like fairytale princesses.
Knowing this made the little girl sad, but then an idea occurred to her that made her very happy: She could give her hair to another little girl, so that she would be happy as well!
So the little girl asked her mom to use her magical Waldorf Astoria Salon-trained haircutting skills to cut her hair. At first her mom was surprised, but when the little girl told her why, she readily agreed.
11-inches later, the little girl had short hair again. She giggled that even detached from her head, her hair retained its magical powers of personality as it fashioned itself into a bouncy flip as it waited to be sent away to its new owner.
The little girl had expected to be sad. She expected to feel like she did all those years ago when she had to cut her hair because she was sick and weak.
Instead, she felt incredibly happy. Now when she looked in the mirror at her short hair, she saw someone who helped others, someone who had something to give. She realized that she didn’t lose something, but had given something freely.
The fairytale princess hair that had been such a treasured gift to the little girl would now be a treasured gift to someone new.
And this, the little girl knew, was the greatest gift of all.
Is your hair super long, Chronic reader? Considering a major haircut? Donate your ponytail of 10 inches or more to Locks of Love, an organization dedicated to making wigs for children who need them but can’t afford them. Their supply mainly goes to children with Alopecia, an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss. You can learn more about Locks of Love here: http://www.locksoflove.org and about alopecia here: https://www.naaf.org/alopecia-areata