Cutting your hair might not seem like a big deal for some people, but for those who’ve lived most of their life with long hair that flows well below their shoulders, a haircut can feel like an extreme change.
Fourteen-year-old, Arianna Rivera always had beautiful, long curly hair but she wanted a change as she prepared for her first year of high school. “I really just got bored of my hair being so long,” Rivera said. Her decision did not come lightly. In fact, she thought that it would be a waste to cut off her luscious locks just to have them swept away by a broom across a salon floor. “Why waste several inches of hair when another person can benefit from it,” Rivera said. This Spring Creek Towers’ resident came to the conclusion that she would donate her hair to an organization that makes wigs for children.
Since Rivera is still just a teenager, she wanted to seek her mother’s approval and discuss her idea about donating her hair. Her mother, Jeannette Reyes was surprised by Rivera’s request. “She had such long and beautiful hair, and everyone would compliment her on it,” Reyes said, admitting that she was against the idea at first. She knew that her daughter’s request was for a noble cause, and she felt an immense pride in her daughter’s humanitarian effort and mature decision—but she just loved how long it was. “I would always straighten her hair, and it was kind of therapeutic,” Reyes said.
Reyes didn’t know what to think at first. Perhaps as her daughter approached high school, she realized a level of independence and maturity that many teens don’t experience until they edge closer to adulthood. Reyes knew it wasn’t an act of rebellion, but the length of her daughter’s hair was a representation of the years she spent grooming her child, but now that little girl has grown old enough to make a decision to define her own identity. Rivera smiled and told her mother, “It really is just hair; it will grow back.”
Rivera convinced her mother when she said, “My hair is the only thing on my body I can change that is not permanent.” After a month of thinking about the big cut and researching organizations that ac-cept hair donations, Rivera asked her godmother (who is a hairstylist) to be the one who will cut her hair for her. It took Rivera and Reyes quite some time to research an organization that had both a simple donation process without cumber-some guidelines and one that dealt with ethnic hair. “There are some organizations that will only accept at least 10 to 14 inches of hair,” Reyes said. She felt that Butterflies by Blaq Inc. was the perfect fit for her daughter’s donation.
First, her godmother straightened her curly hair, and then tied it into a pony tail. Approximately seven inches of her hair was cut and placed into a Ziploc plastic bag, and then it was shipped off to Butterflies by Blaq Inc. in St. Albans, New York.
“I didn’t go with my daughter when she got her hair cut. I don’t know why, but I thought maybe she wouldn’t go through with it and I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch her if she did go through with it. I was surprised when I came home and saw her hair so short, but then again the youth of today is very different. You can’t force your cultural beliefs on them, you have to let them make their own choices,” Reyes said.
After a month into her first year of high school, Rivera loves how light and carefree her hair feels. When it’s curly, Rivera’s hair falls below her chin. However, when it’s straightened, it reaches her shoulders. “I noticed she is less focused on how her hair looks and concentrates more on high school things,” Reyes said.
Rivera agreed that she is more likely to toss her hair into a messy bun and go about her day. “I was a little nervous at first, but I was happy to cut and donate my hair. I would definitely do it again. My hair feels so much healthier and it’s easier to manage,” Rivera said.
Rivera attends the Mary Louis Academy High School, and she hopes to pursue a future career as a Behavioral Analysist for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) because she wants to make the world a better place. “I like to understand people’s thought processes and really get into their mind to understand their decisions,” Rivera said.
There are a plethora of organizations to donate hair albeit with certain guidelines. If you are interested in donating to the same organization as Rivera, Butterflies by Blaq Inc., visit their website for more information: https://butterfliesbbi.org/
Photos courtesy of Jeannette Reyes