The Day My Daughter Shaved Her Head


It was only a week ago that my 12 year old daughter first asked me, “What if I shaved my head?” to which I immediately responded, “What? Why?!?”

She replied softly, “I don’t know. I was just talking about it with my friends.”

I took a deep breathe and thought about her question for a minute before replying a second time. And though still not thinking she would actually shave her head, I began to feel the question was not as hypothetical as I’d first imagined.

“Well, if you did, you would rock it.” I said, which was received with a smile.

“Yeah,” she said, “that’s what my friend said.”

Over the next few days, the shaving the head idea picked up steam. She asked her dad. She asked more friends. And with each person she told that did not find it to be the craziest thing they’d ever heard of, the idea became more real.

“What if I shaved my head?” quickly became “When can I shave my head?” followed closely by, “Who will I give it too???” Each question brought with it a new google search. Soon she had all her answers.

She saved an inspiration photo on her ipad of a cute teen girl (not a star, just a girl) sporting a t-shirt, killer smile and a buzzed head in all it’s glory.

She found a non-profit that would not charge the child receiving her golden locks on the other end when a wig it became. She read about the organization and the medical conditions that caused children her age and younger to lose their hair. Fuel to the fire.

This. Was. Happening.

I texted my hairdresser for reassurance:

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We went to the dentist the next day and when they asked us what’s new, my daughter told them, “I’m going to shave my head.” I loved the way they received this news. “It’s only hair!” and “It grows back” and most encouraging of all, these words from the the office manager, “Good for you! Will you send us pictures?!?!” I could see my daughter’s confidence growing.

Once home her google searches still read “donate hair” and “buzz haircut girl” while mine still read “girl pixie haircut.” Evidence of my resistance filled my iphone camera, pictures of longish short hair cuts for girls. I told myself they were for “just in case she gets half way in there and changes her mind…” but they weren’t. They were for me. “Well hey, look at this one of Gwyneth Paltrow with the cute little bobby pins holding back easily five inch long front hair locks. This would look nice.”

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The day after we’d made the hair appointment, I panicked. Had I been doing my job? What if as “mom” I was supposed to be the one resisting the idea? What if moments after her hair was cut into two 12 inch ponies wrapped in rubber band after rubber band, she looked at me, her eyes filled with disappointment? Disappointment from a decision she’d made without me throwing detours or nary even a road bump in it’s way?

The next day we were alone, driving in the car. Reilly was talking about her future buzz which I seized as an opportunity to fulfill my maternal obligation to offer her pause. I asked her, gently, “What if you don’t like it??? What do you want me to say to you if you cry afterwards?”

To this my daughter, without getting defensive or taking this to mean I didn’t believe in her, answered “Just remind me that it doesn’t matter what I look like. Remind me I helped someone.”

I smiled.

“Okay, sweet girl. But that’s not going to happen, is it?” I thought.

I grabbed for her words, saying them over and over in my head, so I would remember them.

“It doesn’t matter what I look like…”

My daughter knows what is important and what is not, I thought.

The next day, she fearlessly sat in the barber chair with a smile spread ear to ear as long clumps of hair left her head, only stopping to furrow her eyes and scowl at me, now and again for taking too many pictures.

My kids have always taught me plenty, but this time, I felt like I was getting a reminder of not only what is important in this life, but what gives it meaning.

                  “I helped someone.”

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When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here, sharing the stories of our lives, because motherhood is better when we are holding hands. 

Related Posts:

How To Be Enough

How To Be Vulnerable

Listen To Your Mother: St. Louis




  1. Aww! She’s totally rocking her buzz and she did a great thing that not many girls with her long, beautiful hair would do for charity. You should be so proud of her. And I bet she’ll love it during the hot summer and she can wear lots of cute hats to stay warm this winter.

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    Thanks Dagny. She and I have a hat and scarf shopping date this weekend. ^_^ She got such a great response from the other kids today at school…

  2. Wow! What an amazing daughter you have! You should be so proud. She certainly has taught me a lesson!

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    thanks ellen. i’m just in awww of her. xo

  3. Linda Nance says:

    How beautiful is the young soul that would focus so intently on the needs of others that they would freely give a part of themselves to another. Actions speak louder than words and often have a
    trans-formative effect. Clearly your daughter has an outer beauty. The haircut just makes it easier to see the inner beauty. Knowing you helped to create joy makes it easier to wear the new due.

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    linda, i will read this to my daughter tonight. thank you from my mama heart to yours for this blessing of sorts. reaads like poetry. xoxo

  4. This made me cry. Obviously you’ve done something incredibly right here–in your mothering, in your letting go, and in your celebrating your daughter.

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    if i get any credit, it’s for not killing *it*, this innate thing (love?) she has. with my fear. with my mothering. i really don’t know. (but i appreciate the mama props anyhoooo.) 😉

  5. Oh, Suzanne. This made me cry. What a lovely, lovely daughter you are raising… which is not at all surprising given what a lovely person you are. Please tell your daughter that I think she looks beautiful, for whatever it’s worth, and that she is an inspiration! Look out world!

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    i will tell her jill. and thanks, “look out world” is right! xoxo

  6. debi korfker says:

    this totally had me in tears! we literally just got back for driving across state to pick up my daughters ( age 9) FIRST wig that was made possible because of daughters like yours! I can never thank you enough – to have seen the smile on my childs face today- the way she LIT UP THE ROOM after putting her new wig on- was beyond priceless! SO THANK YOU REILLY! ( ps- I shaved my head in support of my daughter- and it looks like we are sporting the same cut! 😉 )

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    Okay now you have me in tears. The story of your nine year old getting her new hair today, you cutting your hair with her… It just brings this all full circle for me. I can’t wait to share this with Reilly in the morning. Thank you for sharing!!!! I would love to see a pic of you and your daughter. Maybe on the cwhl FB page. Friend or tag me if you add it! (((Hugs))) xo Suzanne

  7. How totally amazing and thoughtful your daughter is!!!! I have a daughter who is now 14, but lost all of her hair due to alopecia at the age of 8. CWHL is an outstanding organization to work with! I wear very short hair myself, the Haley Berry style, but if shaving my head would benefit any of these kids, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I just can’t seem to grow it out… I’ve worn it this way for years. Your daughter has so much bravery to do what she did… To not care what kids at school would think or possibly say. She knew why she was doing it, and it seems that’s all that mattered to her. She is an inspiration to me, and to all who see her story!!!!

  8. rebecca says:

    Thank you,My daughter suffers from hair loss,she has not got to the point were she needs a wig .For me as a mom i suffer with her since we found out about this .I also donated my hair. Thank you for being who you are.

  9. Suzanne – she is such a treasure and clearly gets her heart and soul from you. What a gift she is…. you are doing something so RIGHT with her. Keep it up, my friend. xoxo

  10. What a great idea. My daughter is 13 and I would be proud if she did something like this. You obviously have raised a child who understands what is important in life and what isn’t – maybe she will start a trend with her friends!

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    so funny you would say so – there actually has been much talk in her class of following suit, and one girl that actually did. thank you for your kind comment dawn!

  11. This article was really informative. I’m 15 and want to shave my head but my mom acted like you did at first. I just asked her today. Can you give me any tips to convince her its a good idea?

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    How cool that you are on and researching ways to talk with your mom about this. Maybe share this story and me and my daughter’s experience with her. It might help her. I was really confused as to the “right thing” at first. If she knows your heart is really clear and into this for reasons that feel important to you, maybe she will be better able to support you. Be patient with her. It shows huge maturity (and you know how parents like that. Wink.) If in the end you do not shave your head, still, follow your bliss. See what is there underneath this action for you that led you to consider doing this… and be that. Do that. Is it the giving? Helping another in need? is it the outward sign of it? the not caring what others “think” of how you look? That is powerful. Live into that then. What is it about this act of shaving your head that draws you? (Blessings. You rock.) keep me posted! xo

  12. I know this is a rather late comment on this thread, but I just wanted to let you and your daughter know that she helped inspire me to keep going with my idea to shave my head as a fundraiser. It’s something I’ve been tossing back and forth since I was close to her age, but I’ve only taken it more seriously this year, now that I’m sixteen. It can be difficult as a girl to think that you will still be accepted if you get rid of all your hair, but her idea of it not mattering how she looks but mattering that she helped someone is spot on. I’m now going forward with my plans to do it, because she along with many others have helped me believe in myself. And really, at the end of the day, it’ll grow back eventually. Your daughter is beautiful inside and out, and she’s already proven to be a role model for those younger and older than she is.

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    Erika, Good for you. Follow your bliss!!!! Shave that head!!! It has been an amazing thing for my daughter. I truly feel she stepped into her power in so many ways in this single act. Transformed would be the word that comes to mind. So much more confident than ever before. I want you to know something. I feel how beautiful of a person you are from your words. Truly. You have so much love in your heart. A deep, old soul to be sure. I am excited to share your comment with my daughter. (…she, and you inspire me.) xo

  13. beautiful. brought tears to my eyes! your daughter definitely rocks it.

  14. Jessica J. says:

    I would never allow my minor daughter to shave her head (a short haircut would be fine though)…whether nor not it was for a good cause. When she is 18 and out of my house, she may do as she pleases, but not until then.

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    Hi Jessica. Thnx for commenting. Any thoughts on why you might allow it to be cut short but not shaved?

  15. Alyssa Hadley says:

    Hi my name is Alyssa and I am thinking about doing just what your daughter did and I was looking up inspiration to do it. First I want to say great job to your wonderful daughter and props to you for being a wonderful mom. Second I hope my mom will be as ok with it as you are/were. Third what organization did your daughter donate her hair to?

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    Hi Alyssa, How did it go?!?! I’d love pics if you went through with it. If you are still in the planning stages, the group my daughter donated to was called Children with Hair Loss – linked in the article (i think). 🙂 They were super appreciative and easy to work with!!! Pleeeeease keep me updated and keep on following your bliss. It means the world to me that you took the time to comment. (I tell my daughter about every comment! she gets the biggest smile each time, knowing her story has touched another… so THANKS!!!)

  16. Hello! I’m 12 also! I wanted to say that your daughter is beautiful, with short hair and long! I want to have mine as a fully shaved head, but I’m not sure about my parents thoughts

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    hi sophie! sorry I missed your comment from a while back. how did this work out? feel free to show this article to your mom and tell her to email me if she wants to talk it through as an option mom to mom. I can tell you it was one of the most important, formative experiences of my daughters young life. she NEVER regretted it, and now, 16 years old, we both look back at the decision she made with so much gratitude.

  17. Hey, I was conisdering this, and I am a femald thirteen year old, but my mom doesnt even want my haor short. Help?

    Zen Mommy Reply:

    hi lily! I’m so sorry I missed your comment. are you still hoping to shave your head and how is mom doing with this? or have you already? feel free to show this article to your mom and tell her to email me if she wants to talk it through as an option mom to mom. I can tell you it was one of the most important, formative experiences of my daughters young life. she NOR I ever regretted it. We both look back at the decision she made with so much gratitude for all that she took away from the experience. She ended up doing it again 2 years later.