Friends support each other through the darkest of times. But, that support can look differently.
For some people it is important to show their support by cutting your hair. But, not everyone is willing to do that.
Redditor littleredbird1991 encountered this very issue with her friends. So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.
“AITA for not wanting to shave my head?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“So, a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago.”
“She is starting chemo treatments and recently shaved her head. I guess to stop hair from falling out in patches, I’m not entirely sure how chemotherapy works.”
“She has been asking all her friends to shave their heads in solidarity with her struggle.”
“But I don’t want to.”
“I have been growing my hair out for several years and I like it at the length it is. I’ve told my friend that I would be happy to support her in other ways, like making meals for her, watching her kiddos or driving her around when she doesn’t feel like it.”
OP’s friend was disappointed.
“After I told my friend this she kind of ghosted me for a few days. Then I get a loooong FaceBook message from her mom calling me selfish and a narcissist for not shaving my head and that if I really cared for her I’d do it.”
“I feel pretty guilty about this but I’m remaining firm on my decision not to shave my head.”
“I haven’t spoken with friend since her mom messaged me.”
“AITA for wanting to keep my hair?”
Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Most Redditors agreed OP was not the a**hole.
“NTA. Shaving your head is a nice gesture, I guess, but it doesn’t actually help the person who is ill. The things that you offered to do instead would actually help, but if she’s not willing to accept the help them I’m not sure what else there is to do.”
“Definitely block her mom, though. She is probably terrified for her daughter, since no parent wants to think about the possibility of having to bury their child, but her fear and anger is misplaced.”
“I think you got used as an emotional punching bag for issues that could be better dealt with via therapy or a support group.” ~ Katt_ler
“To be honest I don’t understand the gesture. Voluntarily making your situation worse ‘in solidarity’ instead of actually improving the life of the actual patient is somewhere between stupid and attention seeking.” ~ Cr4ckshooter
Most agreed that it would be different if they were kids.
I think if a kid had to shave their head and someone else did it, it would make them feel normal when they might not. But we are talking about adults here, so I really don’t get it. It’s very, very unfair to demand someone shave their head, when hair is a comfort and safety blanket for some. ~ Anime_Blushies
“This! I totally understood it in school when there would then be a group of kids with shaved heads so the kid with cancer didn’t feel like an oddity, but it makes zero sense as adults who don’t spend 8 hours a day together 5 days a week.”
“I honestly think it’s a really selfish thing to demand of anyone, if someone offers… that’s their choice. Ugh”
“NTA” ~ LeeLooPeePoo
“Exactly. My hair just reaches my butt. I would not shave it off. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t care about my friend, just that I don’t want to sacrifice all the effort I put into growing my hair.”
“I live in south east united states, it takes dedication to have your hair this long in triple digit heat plus high humidity. If nothing else will do, it’s not about solidarity, it’s about making everyone else suffer because you are.”
“Definitely NTA.” ~ Ikmia
People shared their own hair journeys.
“This! I’ve shaved my head twice, both times in the midst of some of my worst depressive episodes, to the point where it goes on my Crisis Plan as a warning sign. I think the only person in the world I’d shave my head for is my partner, and then only if she told me that it would help.”
“Neither of those were quite as bad as the time I shaved my eyebrows off though, oof.” ~ sunshadowsburn
“Oh goodness. I did this during a bipolar mixed episode once. Just… hacked my hair to pieces over the sink then shaved my brows off. Gone. Wow.”
“I still have NO idea what possessed me to do it and I looked like an alien for a couple months until they grew back in (and until then I had to wear a woolen beanie pulled down over my brows because I am NOT skilled with an eyebrow pencil, lol).” ~ guilty_by_design
Many were wondering if it was just for the “look of solidarity.”
“It was a thing pre-social media.” ~ ball_fondlers
“Yes, but I think before social media it was probably something people offer to do for each other in support. Whereas This person is not just asking but insisting that not just one friend but every friend to it. I think that kind of attitude comes from the effect of social media.” ~ Agreeable_Tale1305
“I agree. A friend of mine shaved her head when her mother was going through chemotherapy, but that was two decades ago and a very personal decision because her mom was so upset at losing her hair and no one else was asked to follow suit. Now it’s a way to get pity points on social media.” ~ Far_Administration41
“This right here is it! I shaved my head for my Mother the summer of 2019 because having her hair fall out was so devastating for her but never did she ask or demand it of me or anyone else. How entitled :(“ ~ 802Frankie
“Yep. She’s trying to manufacture this experience because other people did it and it garnered a lot of attention. It will never feel like the real thing.” ~ Bloemheks
“I think it is a little bit more complicated than that, but social media definitely shares a part of the blame.”
“When we grow up, we take our ideas of what is ‘normal’ and ‘good’ from our cultural environment. We take cues from our parents, our teachers, our peers, and social media. As we all know, one of the big problems with social media is that it only shows us the ‘highlights reel’ of others that we compare internally to our everyday life.”
“If you grow up with social media in the background, it is very easy to come to the conclusion that extravagant once-in-a-decade events are supposed to be daily or weekly occurrences.”
“How does that translate to a situation like this? If the OP’s friend grew up with the idea that shaving a head in solidarity is ‘normal’, then of course she is going to be offended that the OP doesn’t do it.”
“The problem is that it is not normal. It is an exceptional thing that only even makes sense in a very small set of circumstances (like someone mentioned it can be to make it ‘more normal’ for a frightened child that is now bald). The friend and the friend’s mom are definitely in the wrong, though I’d also cut them some slack as they are probably terrified.” ~ fishnoguns
You can support people in different ways.