Life after ‘Shaving Lives’
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 15:09
During spring break last March, most students were either lounging on the beach soaking up the sun, doing homework or sitting at home reading a book. Three ladies from NDSU decided to instead shave their heads in an effort called Shaving Lives so they could raise money for cancer and diabetes research.
Kelly Porter, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, and Calli Belzer, a junior majoring in Spanish education, fundraised money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. This foundation is one of the leading children’s cancer research foundations in the country.
Kelly and Calli’s original fundraising goal was $3,400 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. In the end, the two of them ended up fundraising a combined total of $4,926.
Kayla Kent, a junior majoring in human development and family science, fundraised money for the American Diabetes Association. Kayla’s original fundraising goal was $2,700 for the American Diabetes Association. Her end result was $3,159.
After uploading a video to YouTube called “Shaving Lives” that helped explain what they were doing, the positive feedback they received was overwhelming. This feedback helped catapult them toward meeting, and eventually succeeding, their fundraising goals.
However, after spending so much time organizing and fundraising, finally sitting down and feeling the scissors cut through their ponytails was the moment they realized that this decision was permanent as well as worth it.
“That first cut made it real,” Kelly recalled. “There were days where I missed my hair, but then I would remember why I did it, and then I wouldn’t think about it again … my long hair never defined who I am.”
Another benefit to shaving their heads in addition to the philanthropic side of Shaving Lives was an opportunity to test out different styles with their hair.
“I’ve always wanted to try out a pixie cut but I was just too scared,” Kayla chuckled. “But after deciding to do this I thought, ‘Perfect! Now I can experiment all I want!’”
Little did they know that in addition to shaving their heads for great causes, their decision helped them develop and grow into more secure women. “I feel so much more confident, which is weird to say because I felt like I was fairly confident beforehand,” Calli said.
Calli recalled a particular incident when someone thought that she shaved her head because she didn’t like her long hair. “When I heard that I was like, ‘No! I didn’t shave my head bald just because I wanted a haircut,” Calli giggled. “But everybody reacts to it in different ways.”
After seeing Kayla come to class after spring break, one of her professors reacted much differently than she expected. “One of my teachers thought I jumped off the deep end over spring break,” Kayla laughed. She then had to explain to the teacher why her head had a buzz cut.
No one around them ever asked upfront why they were bald or whether or not they were affected by cancer. These people instead simply stared at their heads.
“We would get a lot of whispers … People would think, ‘Is she sick? Why is she still in school?’” Kayla said. “You would hear things from other people but they would never approach you about it – you’d hear it from your friends,” Kelly added.
Now that their locks have grown out enough to be styled, the assumptions about them being sick have dwindled. “It was a lot different right away when it was a lot shorter – now it’s not so different because a lot of people have short hair,” Kelly said.
Upon returning to school, one of Kelly’s professors did not react positively toward her new haircut. “She said, ‘Oh, that’s a change … hopefully you have a job already,’” Kelly recalled. “That was an interesting conversation.” Apparently the professor’s roommate shaved her head and struggled to find a job afterward.
However, in Kayla’s case, shaving her head helped land her an internship with the American Diabetes Association this fall. “I definitely think shaving my head really influenced their decision to choose me,” Kayla said. “It really helped them know that I was serious about this association.”
For students wanting to do something impactful for a cause like Kelly, Calli and Kayla did, they have a few words of advice for you: “Find something crazy to do … something that draws other people to listen,” Kelly said. “You don’t have to shave your head to make a difference.”
Although in their case, going collectively bald did help them get the word out a little easier.
“Find people as crazy as you are,” Calli added. “Knowing that these two girls were going to do it with me made the whole situation a celebration of losing our hair.”