|1640 S. Congress Ave., Suite 104
Palm Springs, FL 33461
(561) 963-1677 or Fax:(561) 963-9914
TOLL FREE INFO 1-888-896-1588
LOCKS OF LOVE is a charity that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under the age of eighteen with medical hair loss.
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Table of Contents
Only Skin Deep?
Portions of this article are taken from Pediatric Dermatology, Second Edition, edited by Lawrence A. Schachner (left) and Ronald G. Hansen, 1996
We try to teach our children right from wrong. We try to instill in their young minds the principles of old adages handed down over generations. Sayings like "Do unto others," "Waste not, want not," "Beauty is only skin deep," and other pearls of wisdom are easy to recite, but for many kids, the truth in these sayings is far from obvious.
Children suffering from dermatological conditions which result in permanent or long-term hair loss often have a hard time believing that beauty truly is skin deep. First impressions and attraction are often based on superficial appearance. Although adolescents are particularly sensitive about how they appear to others, even younger children associate popularity with an attractive appearance. Data on children disfigured by burns suggest that changes in their appearance later seriously affected relationships with their peers.
Observable skin disorders cause stress for the sufferer, especially during initial meetings with others. In a recent study, children with evident skin disorders were more likely to show significant psychological distress than children whose disorders were not readily observable.
Even more basic than these cultural or interpersonal associations, skin communicates the most primal psychological impact on human development. For the developing infant, skin acts as the first sensory organ through which he experiences the world. It defines boundaries as they discover their independence from their mothers. It signals danger in the form of pain to curious toddlers exploring the world. It is the human armor of 4 and 5-year-olds as they learn to fear their own vulnerability. It is the outer layer that the adolescent recognizes as "me" in the mirror.
The skin is an integral part of every developmental step. It is crucial to self-esteem and identity formation that individuals be comfortable in their skin. At different stages of development, children will react differently when confronted with a dermatological disorder like alopecia areata.
As preschoolers (ages 3 to 5), children have developed a new awareness of their bodies and all their parts. They often express their feelings through imaginative play, and they can charm adults with their unscientific explanations for why things happen and how they work. At this age, children have an extreme sense of self-importance; they believe they are responsible for all the things that happen around them. They do not understand the concept of chance, nor do they understand the difference between wishing something would happen and making it happen.
School-age children develop new skills in all areas, imparting more significance to their peer groups as they compare their achievements to those of their friends. Status within the group becomes important with fighting, teasing and scapegoating as ways of establishing the social hierarchy.
Eugenio Rothe, associate professor of child psychiatry, University of Miami School of Medicine, states, "The most important thing socially from ages 7 to 12 is to be part of a group and not stand out. Somebody with no hair stands out and can be cruelly scapegoated."
The school years represent an important period for building new athletic, artistic and social skills. Teasing and fighting are expected parts of peer group interaction, but may be particularly painful for children suffering with a noticeable disorder like alopecia areata.
As adolescents, self-esteem is dependent upon an individuals sense of attractiveness. Teenagers are both vain and self-conscious. Most are unhappy with their appearance, and hair loss only amplifies these feelings. Adolescents are particularly sensitive to peer rejection, especially when it involves the opposite sex. In some cases, these feelings lead to social withdrawal and isolation. Many teens use their condition as an excuse to avoid social situations, feeling that their hair loss makes them too unattractive to make it worthwhile to go to a party. At a time when having the "wrong" brand of jeans is treasonous, having no hair is an unforgivable social faux pas.
Locks of Love meets a unique need that goes beyond superficial beauty. The children who receive these hairpieces have lost more than their hair; they suffer from a loss of self. The hairpieces help provide a foundation on which a child can rebuild his or her self-esteem, and begin to regain the normalcy in their everyday lives that you and I take for granted.
Our Mission Statement:
1999 was a transitional period for Locks of Love. As we grew, our foundation became solid and stable and now supports more than *200 recipients to date. Because the national media embraced us, public awareness has increased. More and more families have contacted us for help. Thanks to thousands of generous monetary and hair donors, no eligible child has been turned away.
This remains our goal for the year 2000: to readily accept nominated children as their applications are received. While we await a cure for this emotionally and psychologically devastating condition, our hope is to help each and every child with long term hair loss to realize their dream.
Jamie is a normal, seventeen-year-old junior in high school. She loves to hang with her best friend, has an after school job at the local movie theatre, and enjoys her time at school.
Jamie writes poetry in her spare time (which she hopes to one day have published) and is even starting a Writers/Directors Club at her school. She absolutely loves English but History is another subject altogether -- her own history, that is. Jamie has lived the past four years with no hair.
Since Jamie was three years old, she has dealt with bouts of Alopecia Areata.
"It came out in patches when I was three, but it grew back." She said.
"Then I hit thirteen and it all just fell out!"
Jamie began hiding her baldness under scarves. She eventually moved on to several synthetic hairpieces that didnt provide much relief.
"My first hairpiece was really bad," Jamie explained, "and the next few werent any better. I always felt like I had to be careful on windy days or when I rode on the bus with windows down."
Although many of Jamies fellow classmates were familiar with her Alopecia, dealing with the younger kids at school was still tough.
"Many of the younger kids who didnt know me would point and call me names." Jamie explained.
She felt support from her best friend and even a little more from a fellow classmate who was also dealing with the effects of Alopecia.
"He was a popular boy in my class," she said, "so kids were less likely to make fun when he was around."
Jamies greatest support system has been her family, namely her mom, Denise.
"My whole family has always been supportive, but my moms especially been great!" Jamie said admiringly of her mom. "She has really taught me to stand up for myself and to ignore the kids who didnt know me for me."
Jamie first heard of Locks of Love in an article shed read and later on television.
"I remember excitedly calling for my mom as I watched how Locks of Love could help me!" she said. "There was a certain sense of relief knowing that I could get a hairpiece and not have to save money for years."
Since Jamie received her custom-made hair prosthetic from Locks of Love in June of 1999, life is definitely looking up.
"I feel like I have better self-esteem and sense of who I am."
"I still tell people that I wear a hairpiece," Jamie says, " but they all seem really cool about it, especially at work.
The fact that thousands of ponytails and braids have poured in over the past few years strikes quite a chord with Jamie.
"It means that people are becoming more educated and aware. Not only of Locks of Love but of Alopecia Areata."
"Im glad that people are finally realizing who we are."
Letters From Hair Donors
When my mother was pregnant with me, my father prayed that God would give him a little red headed girl. On June 24, 1998, I [as an adult] was diagnosed with...cancer. Doing this [donating my hair before undergoing chemotherapy] is so positive for me."
"After seeing information about [Locks of Love] and the benefits you provide, I knew it was time to cut my locks."
Clint, Austin, TX
"You are making a wig for [my cousin]....Use my hair for anyone that should have blonde hair. Thank you for what you do, and helping my cousin."
Melissa, Goshen, IN
"I have two sons, both with hair over 10 inches long...they both want to donate their hair to your organization. We are of Native American heritage, and consider our hair very, very sacred, so this will be quite an emotional and very sacred gift from my sons."
Bonnie, Fortuna, CA
Autumn, Age 17, Bloomfield, NM,
Emily, Age 14, Griffin, GA
Mother and wife of 30 years
Anonymous, Berkeley, CA
Help Us Help Others!
We ofter get a poem instead of a note. We think these are worth sharing... If you have a poem or story worth sharing, send it via e-mail or snail mail.
"This hair was my aunt Audreys
poem from Linda, OH
Her Hair AND Her Music
Surrounded by small children each day as a private piano teacher, Jill McCormick Palmer was used to kids playing with her thick, waist-long blonde hair: braiding it, brushing it, even reaching out to touch it in the middle of their piano lessons.
"I realized they got much more of a kick out of my hair than I did," Jill recalls. "To me it was just hair. Then, after hearing about Locks of Love, I was struck by the idea that my hair could really help a child somewhere who needed it more than me."
But after having 11 inches of her long mane sheared at The Greenroom in Boca Raton, Jill decided donating her hair just wasnt enough. A successful recording artist with a compact disc for sale, she suddenly realized her music could help children benefit from Locks of Love in a way her hair couldnt.
Thats when Jill volunteered to donate a percentage of the profits from her popular piano CD, Remember When, to the organization in an effort to raise funds and provide more wigs to more children. McCormick Palmers critically acclaimed recording is a collection of original piano solos that have been heard on radio airwaves across the country from Washington, D.C., to Anchorage, Alaska.
"I realized that by making the CD available on the Internet and in local hair salons that support Locks of Love, I could make an ongoing difference," Jill said. "I also thought of all those people who want to help now, but dont have 10 inches of hair to spare. This is a way for them to make a difference immediately."
Now people can donate to Locks of Love by ordering a CD. Ten dollars will go directly to Locks of Love for every CD sold, a boon to the not-for-profit organization. Visit Jill's website for information on ordering a CD.
This is important because the demand for wigs continues to increase each day, and the hairpieces are very expensive to make. Funds are increasingly needed to manufacture the wigs that are provided free of charge or on a sliding scale to children whose families meet the Locks of Love guidelines.
"We have no shortage of hair, but we do have a shortage of money," Madonna Coffman, Locks of Loves president and chairwoman told People magazine last fall.
"We hope the sale of Jills CDs will help bring in additional funds to help us fulfill the need for hairpieces."
For more information on how you can help, please contact Locks of Love at (561) 963-1677.