No-Hair Day

No-Hair Day

From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul

No-Hair Day

Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it.
Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it.

Thadeus Golas

If you are turning 16, you stand in front of the mirror scrutinizing every inch of your face. You agonize that your nose is too big and you’re getting another pimple—on top of which you are feeling dumb, your hair isn’t blonde, and that boy in your English class has not noticed you yet.

After a day of life-guarding, Alison couldn’t wait to get home, rinse the saltwater out of her hair and comb through the tangles. She flipped her sun-bleached mane forward. “Ali!” her mother cried, “what did you do?” She

Alison never had those problems. Two years ago, she was a beautiful, popular and smart eleventh-grader, not to mention a varsity lacrosse goalie and an ocean lifeguard. With her tall, slender body, pool-blue eyes and thick blonde hair, she looked more like a swimsuit model than a high school student. But during that summer, something changed. discovered a bare patch of skin on the top of her daughter’s scalp. “Did you shave it? Could someone else have done it while you were sleeping?” Quickly, they solved the mystery—Alison must have wrapped the elastic band too tightly around her pony tail. The incident was soon forgotten.

Three months later, another bald spot was found, then another. Soon, Alison’s scalp was dotted with peculiar quarter-sized bare patches. After diagnoses of “it’s just stress” with remedies of topical ointments, a specialist began to administer injections of cortisone, 50 to each spot, every two weeks. To mask her scalp, bloody from the shots, Alison was granted permission to wear a baseball hat to school, normally a violation of the strict uniform code. Little strands of hair would push through the scabs, only to fall out two weeks later. She was suffering from a condition of hair loss known as alopecia, and nothing would stop it.

Alison’s sunny spirit and supportive friends kept her going, but there were some low points. Like the time when her little sister came into her bedroom with a towel wrapped around her head to have her hair combed. When her mother untwisted the towel, Alison watched the tousled thick hair bounce around her sister’s shoulders. Gripping all of her limp hair between two fingers, she burst into tears. It was the first time she had cried since the whole experience began.

As time went on a bandanna replaced the hat, which could no longer conceal her balding scalp. With only a handful of wispy strands left, the time had come to buy a wig. Instead of trying to resurrect her once-long blonde hair, pretending as though nothing had been lost, Alison opted for a shoulder-length auburn one. Why not? People cut and dyed their hair all the time. With her new look, Alison’s confidence strengthened. Even when the wig blew off from an open window of her friend’s car, they all shared in the humor.

But as the summer approached, Alison worried. If she couldn’t wear a wig in the water, how could she lifeguard again? “Why—did you forget how to swim?” her father asked. She got the message.

Afterwearing an uncomfortable bathing cap for only one day, she mustered up the courage to go completely bald. Despite the stares and occasional comments from less-than-polite beachcombers—”Why do you crazy punk kids shave your heads?”—Alison adjusted to her new look.

She arrived back at school that fall with no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, and with her wig tucked away somewhere in the back of her closet. As she had always planned, she would run for school president, changing her campaign speech only slightly. Presenting a slide show on famous bald leaders from Gandhi to Mr. Clean, Alison had the students and faculty rolling in the aisles.

In her first speech as the elected president, Alison addressed her condition, quite comfortable answering questions. Dressed in a T-shirt with the words “Bad Hair Day” printed across the front, she pointed to her shirt and said, “When most of you wake up in the morning and don’t like how you look, you may put on this T-shirt.” Putting on another T-shirt over the other, she continued. “When I wake up in the morning, I put on this one.” It read, “No-Hair Day.” Everybody cheered and applauded. And Alison, beautiful, popular and smart—not to mention varsity goalie, ocean lifeguard and now, school president with the pool-blue eyes—smiled back from the podium.

Jennifer Rosenfeld and Alison Lambert

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