While everyone’s experience during the coronavirus pandemic has been unique, there is one shared by many: Infrequent haircuts.
Katharine Parker saw this “COVID hair” trend as an opportunity to give back and share a bonding experience with her daughters.
Earlier this month, Parker, 6-year-old Chloe and 8-year-old Mikayla visited Rita Lovegreen at Hair by Rita and had multiple inches of their hair lopped off. They donated it to Children With Hair Loss, a nonprofit that provides free hair replacements to children and young adults facing medically-related hair loss.
While the organization will accept as few as 8 inches of hair per donation, Parker, who is the head secretary at Seaside High School and serves on the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District Board, was able to give 14 inches, with Mikayla donating 13 and Chloe 10.
This isn’t the first time Parker’s daughters have donated. About two years ago, Parker said, the girls started expressing a desire to cut their hair. As they were discussing how much hair the girls wanted to cut, Parker presented the option of growing it out a bit more to donate.
“I left it up to them, and they got really excited about being able to do that for another child,” Parker said. “They donated their hair and they were really proud of that and really excited to make that contribution to somebody’s happiness.”
Although there are different organizations that accept hair donations, the Parkers chose Children With Hair Loss for a couple reasons. First, the agency doesn’t charge their recipients for the wigs. Individuals can apply for a free wig every year until they turn 21. Additionally, that they are dedicated to children and young adults “resonated really well with our family,” Parker said.
She used the experience to explain to her daughters the reasons someone might need or desire to wear a wig. Children can lose hair as a result of cancer, alopecia, severe burns, trichotillomania and other rare diseases and disorders.
“It makes them think of the bigger picture outside of themselves,” she said.
Fast forward to last year, when the family was just preparing for their regular haircuts: Salons shuttered temporarily because of the coronavirus. As they waited — and their hair continued to grow — they revisited the idea of donating again. This time, however, they decided to do it as a family.
Parker left it up to her daughters how much they wanted to cut and donate.
“We’re not pushing them,” she said. “Yes, we want to make another child happy, but they also need to be happy in how they feel.”
According to the girls, that was exactly the outcome.
Mikayla said it “feels good to try something new. I like having short hair.” Plus, she added, she appreciates the idea “that I’m giving to someone and making that person very happy.”
Chloe said she likes donating to others “because it makes them happy, and it makes me happy to be giving them hair.” She cut off the same length as the last time, so it didn’t make her nervous.
As a fun addition, the girls got to dye their hair pink after the donation.
While donating hair is nothing new, Parker said, she sees now as the optimal time for people to consider making the decision, since many have voluntarily or involuntarily been growing out their hair for the past year or so.
“Right now, with people like myself who grew their hair out crazy long, there is this opportunity,” she said.