What they do …

15. Inge

Today a blonde oboist will share her story to a better world, and it was a joy to read and publish her story! That’s why I really have to say this right now: if you can read Dutch, please go to the Dutch version of this blog post. Inge wrote a really good story and my translation doesn’t do it justice at all!

As a student, I didn’t sleep in and I didn’t hang around the house. Instead I would often be at the Conservatory, from early mornings until well into the evenings, studying, chatting, reading, playing those keys … basically: living. The Conservatory in Zwolle was small, so after a while you’d get the feeling you know everybody, and because we all have the same passion (music), it’s easy to connect. That’s where Inge and I met.

We don’t share a lot of stories together, it’s more a ‘like knows like’-feeling, but it’s fun to be able to see a tiny part of her life now through Facebook. I love the fact she married Melcher, a guitarist, with whom I had quite some conservations about very philosophical things, which I (gladly) don’t remember anything about anymore. 😉

So I’m very happy she wanted to take the time to write a blog post for us! Enjoy Inge’s story!

“‘It’s just hair …’
… I recently told a colleague who uttered shocked cries at my plan to cut my long locks short to donate to Stichting Haarwensen for the second time. Only when I cycled home I realized that I could not have chosen a more inappropriate way to defend my intention. Because hair can indeed be an issue, but luckily not for me.

Because it always looks effortlessly fabulous? Uh, no. Certainly not. But as long as I can remember my hair has been a highly reliable, constant part of me. It’s blonde, and thick; plus I’ve got a lot of it and it is growing rapidly. In summer, it turns blonder; in winter it is dull but doesn’t get frizzy or ‘fluffy’, it doesn’t fall out and it keeps its volume.

So I treated it without much care and thought. It never occured to me to protect my hair from sun or chlorine. After washing, I brushed the knots out of my wet hair until my scalp hurt. I bought cheap elastic hair ties with those nasty metal pieces, and would sometimes even wear them during the night. Over the years, I wore my hair short, long, curly, with layers, and purple. Yes really: purple. It took more than a year for the store bought colour rinse (‘disappears after 6 hair washes’) to disappear. After that I was done with the metamorphoses: I kept my hair clean and that was that. Once a year I went to the hairdresser’s to have the ends trimmed, so my hair stayed healthy.

And then, in early 2013, I read about Stichting Haarwensen. It’s a foundation dedicated to children and young people who have lost their hair due to an illness or medical treatment and would give anything to go through life with a full head of hair. This foundation collects hair, makes it into wigs and provides those, free of charge, to young people suffering from hair loss. Breathlessly, I read the article and when I got home, I immediately went to their website.

While I found out more about the foundation and looked at the beautiful pictures of happy recipients I thought of all the things I take for granted. Waking up each morning with my hair spread on my pillow; deciding how to style my hair that day; the wind pulling at my hair as I cycle; the warm intimacy of my love who runs his fingers through my hair, and the way I catch our faces together in a golden cage of blonde hair when I bend over him to kiss him while he lays in bed. I thought about the fun girls’ nights when I was a teenager, when we would spend hours, before going into town, with a hairbrush (‘Comb a hundred times for a beautiful shine!’) and curling irons (‘Shoot, I think my hair is stuck!’). I thought of thoughtlessly running and jumping in the pool without any worries …

I decided to never take my hair for granted anymore.

How sad it must be to wake up every morning feeling desperate at the sight of hair on your pillow instead of on your head? To hardly dare combing your hair? To be afraid of wind or water on your head, and to be different, not one day, but always? The stories of young people who suffer from baldness, made me realize that each of them missed what was so obvious to me: the ability to blend into the crowd.

Curiously, I kept on clicking on the website and I read the sweet thank you notes from young kids and their parents, who can forget about being sick for a moment when they wear their wig. I saw moving pictures of girls barely younger than myself, recovering their confidence thanks to that donated hair, because they don’t look different than their girlfriends anymore. Their wigs help them cope with their lives, and this is all thanks to donated hair, the hair that I took for granted and let the hairdresser cut off every time without even thinking about it.
I decided to never take my hair for granted anymore.

post-inge-inpost

I made an appointment at the hairdresser’s and had my hair cut at one length, so it I could let it grow without it looking weird. I became careful with my hair and took care of it; used a scarf in the summer, rinsed my hair after swimming and bought better hair ties. I didn’t dye, colour, blow drie or curl it anymore. Although Stichting Haarwensen doesn’t set high demands, I wanted to ‘deliver’ my hair as healthy as possible.

A year later I was able to donate a very healthy braid. And I told whoever wanted to hear, because I noticed that this way of donating wasn’t well-known at all at that time.
Once I had my short haircut, I was overwhelmed by the response, even from people I barely knew, ranging from ‘cool’ to ‘too bad’. I thought it wasn’t that cool or too bad at all.

What I said was: ‘It’s just hair.’ What I meant: it will grow again. And it did. Recently I took my kids to the hairdresser’s  and I decided to consult my hairdresser Janneke (I love Janneke; once I wanted to have bangs, and she said: ‘I’m not doing that, it will look awful on you.’). She grabbed a tape measure and measured my blonde locks. Conclusion: no problem!

There is something undeniably liberating about cutting off your hair.

I made an appointment and a couple of days later it was time: 30 centimeters of hair got measured again, braided into two pigtails and cut off, just like that. The remainder of my hair was transformed into a nice bob. The braids were left in the salon, ready to be sent to Stichting Haarwensen, along with a number of other donated braids, where they can be made into beautiful wigs!

There is something undeniably liberating about cutting off your hair. When I walked home with my hair dancing above the collar of my coat, I felt kilos lighter. I just simply went to the hairdresser’s, and yet it felt like I really had done something meaningful that morning.

Renske asked me to write a blog post about my hair donations. I hesitated; donating your hair doesn’t sound as amazing as doing volunteer work, doing something really brave for others, or actively contributing to a better environment. But Renske’s sweet words about how even the smallest act can be inspiring and contribute to a better world, made me write this post.

It will grow again. It’s just hair.

Maybe this blog post will inspire you to at least consider donating your hair; or maybe you weren’t familiar with hair donations at all and you can spread the world (especially to those with long hair around you). Maybe you know someone who has to deal with unwanted baldness and you can give him/her information about where to get a free nice wig. Or maybe my story makes you remember, with a smile, all those things you take for granted every day. If even one of these things applies to anyone, my story wasn’t useless, and I am grateful that I wrote it down for you.

As fas as my short hairdo: I’ll have to get used to it, but from previous experiences I know that won’t take long. And if I don’t get used to it, I’ll just have to have some patience. It will grow again. It’s just hair.

Note: Even if you have gray, dyed or shorter hair donating is possible. Visit the website of the Haarstichting  They also make wigs for adults and, therefore, the hair doesn’t have to meet the same demands.

Inge”

Want to read more about this subject? I too, wrote about this!