8 No-hair Day
(By Jennifer Rosenfeld and Alison Lambert)
If you are turning 16, you stand in front of the mirror observing every inch of your face. You agonize that your nose is too big and you're getting another pimple , your hair isn't blonde, and that boy in your English class has not noticed you yet.
Alison never had those problems. Two years ago, she was a beautiful, popular and smart eleventh-grader, not to mention a varsity lacrosse goalie and an ocean lifeguard. With her tall, slender body, pool-blue eyes and thick blonde hair, she looked more like a swimsuit model than a high school student. But during that summer, something changed.
After a day of lifeguarding, Alison couldn't wait to get home, rinse the saltwater out of her hair and comb through the tangles. She flipped her mane forward."Ali!"her mother cried,"What did you do?"She discovered a bare patch of skin on the top of her daughter's scalp ." Did you shave it? Could someone else have done it while you were sleeping?" Quickly, they solved the mystery - Alison must have wrapped the elastic band too tightly around her ponytail. The incident was soon forgotten.
Three months later, another bald spot was found, then another. Soon, Alison's scalp was dotted with peculiar quarter-sized bare patches. After diagnoses of "it's just stress" with remedies of ointments , a specialist began to give injections to each spot. To mask her scalp, bloody from the shots, Alison was granted permission to wear a hat to school, normally a violation of the strict uniform code. Little strands of hair would push through the scabs , only to fall out two weeks later. Alison was suffering but nothing would stop it.
Alison's sunny spirit and supportive friends kept her going, but there were some low points. Like the time when her little sister came into her bedroom with a towel wrapped around her head to have her hair combed. When her mother untwisted the towel, Alison watched the thick hair bounce around her sister's shoulders. Gripping all of her limp hair between two fingers, she burst into tears. It was the first time she had cried since the whole experience began.
As time went on a bandanna replaced the hat, which could no longer conceal her balding scalp. With only a small handful of strands left, the time had come to buy a wig . Instead of buying a long blonde one, pretending as though nothing had been lost, Alison bought a shoulder-length auburn one. Why not? People cut and dyed their hair all the time. With her new look, Alison's confidence strengthened. But as the summer approached, Alison worried. If she couldn't wear a wig in the water, how could she lifeguard again? "Why? Did you forget how to swim?" Her father asked. She got the message.
After wearing an uncomfortable swimming cap for only one day, she mustered up the courage to go completely bald. Despite the impolite stares and comments - "Why do you crazy kids shave your heads?" - Alison adjusted to her new look.
She arrived back at school that fall with no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, and with her wig put away somewhere in the back of her closet. As she had always planned, she would run for school president, changing her campaign speech only slightly. Presenting a slide show on many famous bald leaders like Gandhi, Alison had the students and faculty rolling in the aisles .
In her first speech as the elected president, Alison talked of her condition, quite comfortably answering questions. Dressed in a T-shirt with the words "Bad Hair Day" printed across the front, she pointed to her shirt and said, "When most of you wake up in the morning and don't like how you look, you may put on this T-shirt." Putting on another T-shirt over it, she continued, "When I wake up in the morning, I put on this one." It read, "No- Hair Day." Everybody cheered and applauded. And Alison, beautiful, popular and smart - not to mention varsity goalie, ocean lifeguard and now,school president - smiled back from the podium .