By: Helena Stallings, Culinary Arts Student
Many women believe that their hair is a true symbol of who they are. Women will go to the end of the world and back if it meant having the best style or color, and are devastated when those bad hair days inevitably roll around. We give our hair power and for many people struggling with cancer, they not only lose power over their own health, but many of them are also left bald and with it a lose of identity, showing off the battle scars of their fight. Several large organizations have come together to help in this fight, whether it be with turning hair donations into wigs or donating money to aid cancer research, but the St. Baldrick’s Foundation is taking a different approach. Every St. Patrick’s Day Weekend, thousands of people donate money to friends and relatives to shave their heads in honor of those still fighting, and on March 15th, 2014 several of the Escoffier Culinary and Pastry Arts students and faculty shaved their heads for cancer. The participants consisted mostly of men, however it was the women who felt it the most.
As one of the women who shaved her head, I can say from a place of experience that being a bald woman changes your life. My reason for shaving my head was in honor of my father who passed away from cancer 10 years ago, a little boy from the community came in and shaved his head for a 10-year old friend of his who was fighting leukemia. Every person who sat on those stools had a reason so powerful that they were willing to change their lives and walk in the shoes of the survivors. I was lucky enough to have two female classmates of mine, Jamie Warburton and Taya Corey, share in this experience with me. When I felt as though I had bitten off more than I could chew, they were there with smiling faces to help me through it, and remind me that the best perk is not having to wear a hairnet. My Escoffier family bonded together to help those in need and offer a shoulder when the realization that we no longer had hair left us in tears.
Escoffier may be a small culinary school, but the legacy of our namesake helps to drive us to be a strong member in our community and to be able to band together to assist those in need. Auguste Escoffier made huge strides in late 1800s, early 1900s, in making sure his employees had access to doctors and even put a system of social security in place long before the government adopted it. He reached out to his own employees and his community, and it is important for us as individuals, but also has a school to continue that legacy and to lead by example. When the St. Baldrick’s event began we were all students and faculty just trying to help, but when the event was over we were a family. Through the high times and low, we were bonded together through our experience and without the strength of my beautiful, bald women, I could never have taken those steps to donate the one thing I held dearest to me. Hair is just hair and for most of us it will grow back, but to those still in the fight it is the greatest gift someone can give.