This December, a few Nicaraguans, some PCVs, and I will have a lot less hair on our heads.
I’ve donated my hair twice before. I originally joined TEAM Nicaragua with the intention of donating a good chunk of my hair, keeping with my normal cycle of growing it out long and then cutting it short.
But I’ve never shaved it completely off.
The project started by a fellow PCV as a way to challenge cultural norms and as a tribute to her father:
“I hope that by shaving my head in the Peace Corps, I can show Nicaraguan citizens and US citizens (and everyone around the world!) that we are not defined by our hair or our outer appearances. We are all beautiful, hair or not. My father died from lymphoma on December 2, 2005. By shaving my head on December 2, 2015, exactly 10 years after my family lost him, I hope we can celebrate not only his life, but other amazing people who have been affected by this disease.” – Corey, Peace Corps Nicaragua Volunteer
I’ve also lost loved ones (and loved ones of loved ones) to cancer. As support for our friend and colleague, Corey, as well as to honor our loved ones who’ve fought this hard battle, my husband and I decided to participate in the event. Andrew would shave, because well, he doesn’t have much hair. And I would donate close to 20 inches.
Every time I told one of my counterparts or one of my students that I was going to cut my hair, they responded with a very strong, “NO!Profe, don’t do it! You’re so beautiful with long hair.” When I jokingly asked them what they would think if I were to shave it completely off they balked even more. “Profe, please o’ please don’t do that. You’ll be so ugly without any hair at all. I guess short hair is OK, but to be bald would be terrible!”
Our conversations got me thinking. I’ve always wanted to be brave enough to not care what people think, to not worry about being cool, or fitting any sort of mold. But when it came down to it, I really like that students love my long hair. It’s given me a kind of status among the locals.
“You’ll be so ugly without any hair…” kept echoing in my mind.
My female students, like most teenagers around the world, care so much about how they look. They sit in class with mirrors and makeup, far more focused on their faces than on my lessons. There’s so much pressure to be beautiful. If I feel it at 27, you better believe they feel it in Jr High and High School.
I try to tell my students that it doesn’t matter; they they are more than their looks, that their smarts and wit are just as important, that being a woman is about so much more than being pretty and having long hair. But they’re not hearing me.
I want to show them that I actually really do believe in what I say.
Therefore, on December 2, 2015, I’m joining Andrew, Corey, Traci, and Tomas in shaving my head at our TEAM NICARAGUA St. Baldricks event. I can’t think of a better way to honor those brave women and men who have had no choice but to let their hair go in hopes of regaining life.
Bald can be beautiful, powerful, and strong. Having hair or not doesn’t change my personality, my intelligence, my passions. It will even grow back, in about 3-4 years. We say it’s whats on the inside that counts. I want to prove it.
You can help prove it, too! TEAM NICARAGUA has a goal of reaching $5,000 before our shave/donate date. The money goes towards finding a cure for childhood cancer. Visit Team Nicaragua’s donation page to help out.
Every donation also helps me and many others feel and believe that #baldisbeautiful. Together, we can work towards a cure. I’ll just be working with a little less hair.
– Emily, TEFL 64