"I'm growing my hair to donate."
"I love my long hair, and I can imagine how hard it would be to have to lose it, so I'm going to donate mine to a kid with cancer..."
Sound familiar? I've heard them all...in fact, that last one was me up until a couple of years ago. I planned to donate, and actually felt a little guilty that I wanted to wait until after my wedding (because I wanted to have long hair in my wedding pictures). How selfish of me, eh?
Then I learned that Locks of Love ain't all it's cracked up to be.
Some basic facts: the hair does NOT go to kids with cancer. It goes to people with permanent hair loss, such as alopacia (sp?) or scalp burns. Granted, these are good causes...but it's false advertising. Even if it did go to kids with cancer, human hair wigs are hard to care for, and actually wouldn't be good for kids anyway...they're better for adults. (Now, as someone who has worked with wigs in the theatre, I will vouch for human hair being superior to synthetic wigs...it's just much harder to take good care of it.)
LoL cannot use any hair that is damaged, has been color-treated in any way, or even that has been conditioned with silicone-based conditioner (ie, the majority of hair in the USA). They will sell it to get cone-free hair from other countries. Most of the hair ends up either thrown away (because it's damaged or otherwise unusable) or else it is sold. NOT donated. The hair that is sold is used for things like extensions, or theatrical wigs (think Hollywood).
Here are some numbers which really opened my eyes:
A little math using information from LoL's own website and the BBB:
LoL receives about 2000 donations per week, by mail.
That's 104,000 per year.
Let's say that only half of that is usable for wigs.
That's 52,000 per year.
It takes 6-10 ponytails to make a wig.
Ok, let's say each one takes 10.
That's potentially 5200 wigs per year.
Now, in fiscal year 2002, how many wigs did LoL provide?
So, given those facts, I realized that it didn't make sense to donate my hair--it wasn't going to do the good I had been led to believe it would. (I also realized that my hair wasn't terribly healthy and wouldn't make a good donation anyway).
If you want to cut your hair anyway, and it's long enough to do something with, then sure, donate to LoL. They are making SOME wigs for bald people, after all.
There are also a lot of other places where you could donate hair.
Or these guys use donated hair (in any condition) to make mats to clean up oil spills. (That is so cool!)
Alternatively, many theatre groups would love to have some hair for making their wigs.
Also you can sell the hair yourself, and use the money to keep or donate. (A long thick ponytail can bring in hundreds of dollars.)
However, if you love your long hair (which, I might add, you grew yourself, and have a right to keep) then hey, keep it. After all, it's yours. The New Testament says a woman's hair is her glory and is given to her for a covering...I don't think it's selfish or vanity to like your own hair. Some folks may not have to give it much attention, but if you're like me then you have to baby your hair to have it long and pretty, and hey, you're entitled to the fruits of your labors.
Here are some more reference sites:
The Better Business Bureau reports that LoL does not comply with all of the standards of being a non-profit organization. For one thing, they have documentation of LoL earning money... uhhhh...
This blog post is well laid out and has lots of reference links.
The New York Times wrote an article about this.
Even the Wikipedia article has mention of it.
LiveJournal threads from longhairs about LoL.
LongHairCommunity thread. Another LHC thread.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~And next time someone says "Oh, you have such long pretty hair, you should donate it to Locks of Love!" I will retort "Oh, you have such nice blood, you should donate it to people who are dying!" And then I'll fill them in on the truth about Locks of Love.