Why I Decided to Shave My Head: A Conversation with Sydney Wade

Several weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to watch one of my best friends and sorority sisters, Sydney Wade, shave her head at SLU Kappa Delta’s annual “Kuts for Confidence” event. Today I got the chance to sit down with her to talk about the event itself, why she decided to donate her hair, and the true meaning of confidence.

 

Name: Sydney Wade

Major: Health Sciences, Pre-PA

Year: Junior

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

 

What is Kuts for Confidence and how did you become involved with the event?

“Kuts for Confidence is an annual event created by Kappa Deltas here at SLU to support two of our chapter members, Emily and Sarah, who were diagnosed with aggressive cancers within six months of each other in 2013. Taking our mission of confidence to heart, our chapter hosted the first annual Kuts for Confidence: an all-day hair cutting event where donors can cut 8 or more inches off their hair and donate it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. We also collect donations for the American Cancer Society’s Look Good, Feel Better campaign. These initiatives provide wigs and workshops on beauty and confidence free of charge for those undergoing cancer treatment. As Kappa Deltas, it is our mission to strive for the honorable, beautiful, and highest in our sisterhood, and through this event we are able to bring a little bit of confidence to those who have lost theirs and redefine what it means to be beautiful. I’ve been a member of Kappa Delta for two years now and have helped with this event for both. At this year’s event, I was one of the co-chairs and I helped plan, organize, and put on the event!”

 

What does confidence mean to you?

“Confidence to me is knowing who you are and being unapologetically yourself. It means staying true to who you are, knowing your worth, and loving yourself effortlessly despite what others may think or say about you. Most of my life I have struggled with this concept. I was horribly bullied in middle school and high school and the words those kids said to me stuck in ways I wished they didn’t. I was insecure about every little thing and always worried about the next thing they could make fun of me for. It wasn’t until coming to college and joining Kappa Delta that I was really able to find the confidence in myself that others had tried to take away. These women built me up and showed me that I was so much more than any horrible thing anyone had ever said about me. Today I can say that I am the most confident I have ever been, and it’s all thanks to the amazing people that I am lucky enough to be surrounded by everyday.”

  

Why did you decide to shave your head?

“I decided I was going to shave and donate my hair this year during last year’s Kuts for Confidence. I was overwhelmed and inspired by the sheer amount of people from the SLU community who came out to support our event. They all had their own reasons for ‘making the cut’, but behind it all was confidence. Confidence in the mission of the event and confidence in themselves. I had never really been attached to my hair, but what always stopped me from cutting it was the lack of confidence I had in myself. I was always so worried about what other people would say and if I was still going to be considered beautiful. However, after watching all of those people cut their hair last year, I was left with one question: If I have the ability give a women or girl undergoing the most confidence-stealing disease there is just a little bit of confidence back, why shouldn’t I?

It’s hard to put into words, but shaving my head just felt right.  I have so many family members and people close to me who have battled cancer or are currently battling cancer. I see the way it not only affects them physically, but also mentally. These people I once knew as full of life, love, and optimism were slowly stripped away, and the cancer seemed to not only attack their bodies, but also their sense of self. It’s a heartbreaking thing to watch and I never want them to feel like they are alone in their battles. Shaving my head was my way of showing solidarity, love, and support for them as they take on this disease.”

  

How did it feel to shave it all off?

“At first it honestly didn’t seem real. I was surrounded by all of my closest friends at SLU, and as they were cutting off ponytails and shaving what was left of my hair, I almost felt like I was out of my body, but in a good way. After it was all gone, I held all of the my hair in my hands, but it still felt like it was on my head. There were even a few times shortly after where I would instinctively go to move my hair out of my face before realizing what I was doing. Even waking up the day after I shaved it, I forgot that it was gone and I almost didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. It’s been about a month now and I’ve definitely gotten used to it. I love not having hair! ”

 

How have people reacted?

“I’ve gotten mixed reactions, but for the most part people have been overwhelmingly supportive. I was a little nervous at first to show my friends and my family at home, but once they saw my bald head they told me they absolutely loved it and were incredibly proud of me. Unfortunately I have also gotten a few negative comments here and there, from the judgy side of the family and from people I went to highschool with, that tell me I looked better with long hair or refer to me as Aunt Jemima. Thankfully the positive and supportive outweigh the negative.”

 

How do you feel about the relationship society places between long hair and traditional femininity?

“I think this relationship stems from the history between hair and beauty -- for such a long time, we were made to believe that our hair was our entire identity and we weren’t seen as truly feminine without it. I think as a society we try so hard to fit into this mold that the media has created as the perfect woman, and it’s honestly a load of crap. Femininity and hair length should not be interdependent. We as individuals should be able decide for ourselves what is beautiful, and that doesn’t have to match what another person decides is beautiful for them. We should be able to shape our own perceptions of ourselves and femininity should not be reliant on something as simple as hair on your head.”

 

 What would you tell someone who wants to shave their head but doesn’t think they can do it?

“Go for it! It’s definitely a huge decision and one that shouldn’t be done on a whim, but for me personally, shaving my head has been the most liberating experience. It may sound corny, but I feel like a whole new person and I have found a whole new sense of confidence and pride in myself that I didn’t expect or even know was there. If you would have told me 6 years ago that I would be bald today, I wouldn't have believed you, but it’s funny how a little confidence and perspective can make you do incredible things. Hair is just hair and it will never define you the way that your attitude or personality do.  You are so much more than anything surface level, and bald is most certainly beautiful.”