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Bald, Beautiful

Amanda Gray | Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Roughly five months after she shaved her head for the St. Baldrick’s Day fundraiser, “The Bald and the Beautiful,” junior Elise Jordan said her morning routine is considerably shorter.

“It’s growing in a lot nicer than I thought it would,” she said, running her fingers through her short hair. “I get to sleep in longer in the mornings, too, because I don’t have to mess with it.”

Jordan was one of few girls to go bald last spring for the charity, which benefits childhood cancer research grants. She said she shaved her hair, which reached the middle of her back, for many reasons, but she has also learned things she could not have imagined.

“There’s a lot of pressure placed on young girls and teenage girls. The last thing they should be worrying about if they have this terrible disease is looking pretty,” she said. “I hope I can just show at least one girl that you don’t need hair to be beautiful.”

Jordan called her shaved head a “vanity check.”

“The first six to eight weeks after I did it, I was concerned,” she said. “I kept asking, ‘Is it growing in fast enough?'”

She said she met new people while on campus this summer, and they were all curious about her hair and the charity. A summer vacation at a family home in Vancouver, British Columbia, also proved interesting — many family friends asked her about her shortened hair.

“People were really supportive. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from people,” she said. “I’ve had guys say it looks better shorter.”

Her hairstyle continues to make an impact; she still receives checks in the mail for donations for the charity.

“People are intrigued by the entire event,” she said. “It’s a three-day event on campus, but it spans the entire year. We can still raise money.”

She said she is unsure of how much money she raised personally, but she believes the event raised over $40,000 for the charity.

“I don’t know how much I made,” she said. “I did online donations and have had extra money donated after. I don’t really care — it was all about how much we raised in total.”

To anyone considering shaving their hair for the charity, she said it requires some thought.

“Take your time,” she said. “It was very different. Some days I wanted my hair back. But it’s all about confidence. You’ve got to remember you did it for a good cause. It changed how I see myself.”

She also cited her mom, a physician, as inspiration — or, more specifically, her mom’s patients.

“She’s had tons of women come back in who went through chemo and were in remission with cancer again,” she said. “The first thing they say is they don’t want to do chemo again — they want to keep their hair.”

While she’s uncertain if she’s going to grow her hair out or keep it short, Jordan said it’s a theoretical, and literal, weight off her shoulders.

“It’s something so stupid. Why should your hair define you?” she said. “Some of my friends have long hair. I have short hair. There are a lot of things more important than a head of hair.”