How far does solidarity go?
The idea that if one person goes through a struggle, the whole family goes through it with them is a time-honored tradition stretching back generations.
How far do you take this tradition though? That was the question plaguing Reddittor and Original Poster (OP) Left-Space-3229 when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for clarity.
“AITA for not shaving my hair?”
She began with the basics.
“I (15 female) come from a big family.”
“If one of them goes through an unfortunate incident they expect the rest of us to sacrifice our happiness.”
Before disclosing the issue at hand.
“A few weeks ago one of my distant relatives was diagnosed with cancer and shaved her head.”
“Everyone was upset about the news and made this plan to shave everyone’s hair in support.”
“I have long thick hair which took me quite some time to grow.”
“I said no to this idea and when asked why I said it was a stupid thing to shave our hair as its not going to help her in any way.”
“Now everyone is blowing up my phone and tell me that I am entitled b*tch.”
OP was left to wonder,
“AITA FOR NOT SHAVING MY HAIR?”
She made her case, then turned to Reddit for clarity.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some suggested that OP’s family is missing the point.
“The whole thing about solidarity gestures is that they rely on positive, affirmative consent by all parties involved to be genuine.”
“The instant any coercion becomes involved, the whole thing becomes a sham.”
“And that’s before I say a word about bodily autonomy, or how you’d be subjecting yourself to potential abuse by AH’s at school for shaving your head!”
“Don’t let yourself be bullied into this, OP. There are other ways you can support your relative.“~Kegelexercise
“It’s very performative and is much more about them getting attention for being “good people” and pretending that doing something like this does anything to help the relative.”
Others took a more complex view.
“It’s really context-specific.”
“Daughter and aunt know how much mom’s hair means to her, so when she loses all her hair daughter and aunt shave their heads and help mom style with scarves; genuine solidarity.”
“Classmate hears that the classmate they have talked to once in the last 3 years has cancer, so classmate shaves their head without even asking classmate with cancer how it will make them feel; shallow show of fake solidarity.”
“I would say this context more aligns with the classmate example”~SnakesInYerPants
There were plenty of suggestions for alternatives to shaving.
“Instead of shaving their hair, why doesn’t OP’s family chip in to buy the relative human hair wigs?”
“People donate their hair so people who lose theirs can feel more confident.”
“It’s not because hair is a necessity, it’s because they want people to feel confident.”
“I suggest different wigs in different colors that the relative can style, curl, and straighten.”
“They can pick out a specific wig to dye if they’re feeling a little bored of their other wigs.”
“Make sure they wash the wigs and their head because they can still develop dandruff and the wigs can get dirty over time.”
“Try and get them wigs in different lengths and styles too.”
“Maybe a medium bob, a long straight look, some medium curls put into a bun, but they shouldn’t shave all their hair, the relative should feel normal(being bald is normal, I know a lot of bald people, but when people lose their hair, some of them might feel weird).”
“And when the relative is finally cancer-free, they can take their wig off after some time and let their gorgeous mane blow in the wind like a lion’s mane in the Savannah.”~PristinePotatoe
“When my cancer relapsed in 1997, I specifically told people NOT to shave their hair.”
“If they wanted to show their support for me, make me a big batch of homemade chicken soup (potatoes, not noodles) that I could freeze in portions and eat for the days after chemo when I was too sick to eat.”
“Check with me first, and then bring over some takeout and hang out with me so my husband could have a break and go run errands without worrying about me.”
“Be my 3 am Friend I could get into chat and talk with on the nights the What-Ifs and Never-Gets hit hard.”
“And if they couldn’t do any of that, then donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society because they fund a lot of research (one of my friends is alive because of an experimental therapy they funded the research for) as well as put a lot of money into patient support.”
“Just don’t do some performative ‘support’ that doesn’t do anything but get you attention and attagirls.”
“FWIW,(For What It’s Worth) my husband stopped cutting his hair when I was diagnosed because I was going to lose my hair so he was going to grow enough for both of us.”
“By the time my hair had grown back, fallen out again, and grown back (this happens a lot, depending on the type of chemo) he had this thick, gorgeous ponytail.”
“I cried when he was called for an interview and had to cut it off.”
“But we needed the better job more than we needed that ponytail.“~Ok_Cry_1741
Some replies questioned the motivations.
“NTA, this sounds like virtue signaling.”
“No doubt your family will want to take a group picture to post on social media to show how caring and empathetic they are.”
“Then they can bask in the likes and the comments affirming their greatness.”
“There are so many ways to support a family member that has cancer and, like you said, the shaving of everyone’s head will not help in any way.”
“Just reaching out would be more appreciated as well as running errands or buying them caps, scarves or other comfortable clothing.”
“You know, stuff that will make the family member feel better, not make the others feel good about themselves.”
“Stay strong young lady.”~Alonewithmythoughts1
How far does solidarity go?
The truth might be that solidarity isn’t as important as genuine acts of compassion.
Remember that what you do to your body is your choice, no matter what anyone else decides.