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Be Bold, Be Bald – Is This Campaign Helpful?

Be bold, be bald, is this campaign helpful? Umm, no.

Update:  The Be Bold, Be Bald campaign is being suspended. The founder listened to advocates and patients who were discussing this on social media and came to this decision. Huge news? Maybe not. But it is advocacy in action producing results. I applaud this decision and wish them well moving advocacy efforts in a new direction.

One weekend when I  was doing chemo and my hair was falling out, Son #2 shaved his head as a way to show support for me. I loved him for doing that. But obviously, I would not have loved him any less had he not shaved his head. It was something he wanted to do for me and that’s what mattered to both of us.

That same weekend, Son #1 sorted through his history book collection and very thoughtfully selected a few of his favorites for me to read hoping they’d distract me. That was his way to show support. Around that same time when I was again in tears about my hair, Dear Daughter hugged me and said, “I’m sorry you have to lose your hair. I know this is really hard and I love you.” (still makes me tear up)

Such simple things to do and say, but those simple things meant the world to me. I felt supported and I felt loved. Hair or no hair.

Dear Hubby supported me every day (and still does). I know it was tough for him for a lot of reasons (and often still is), one of them being I was hard to live with at times during treatment. I admit it. I also know sometimes I still am.

One of those times when I was being particularly cranky, he said to me, “I am trying my best to support you, we all are. But sometimes you just have to let us. Sometimes you just have to let me.”

I never forgot those words.

Our loved ones want to support us. Sometimes we make it hard for them. Sometimes we do have to just let them.

But wearing a bald cap to show support, well, I just don’t get that. 

Which brings us to the Be Bold, Be Bald campaign. This is now an annual event each October. It’s interesting the event is held in October even though the support is intended for all cancer patients.

Pink has clout.

I first noticed this particular campaign last year and when it resurfaced again this year, I cringed. Again.

As many of you know by now, hair loss was a big deal for me. I was definitely not brave about it. I didn’t kick ass. I didn’t show I was taking charge by rushing to have my hair shaved off early on or by throwing a head-shaving party.

I did not embrace my baldness. Not me. I was pretty much a big baby about it.

Seeing this campaign come around again, made me wonder how I might have felt had my family and friends decided to wear those bald caps.

I’m just not sure how wearing a swim cap bald cap shows support for a person who is really bald. It seems gimmicky. Fake baldness. Fake support.

But who am I to judge?

If it works for some, fine, but as for me this seems like a really lame way to go about showing support for someone who is actually bald or about to be. In fact, seeing you in a fake bald cap might even depress her more about being bald.

The very premise behind this campaign makes an inaccurate assumption. After all, not all people undergoing cancer treatment experience baldness. 

In fact, a person can look completely healthy and have a full head of hair and yet be very sick.

So skip the bald cap. Be bold in some other way.

It might be “bolder” to cook a meal for the person or bring over some take-out, walk the dog, babysit the kids, take her to a movie, drive her to chemo, weed the garden or donate to a charity of her choosing (the idea behind this campaign is to raise money for charity, after all) rather than going ‘fake bald’ for a day.  Most importantly, love her. That’s what matters most. It always does.

So, is this be bold, be bald event helpful?

Maybe. Maybe not. I suppose if it’s raising a lot of money it might be okay. But still…

I don’t think seeing someone wearing a bald cap for a day would’ve made me feel all that supported.

What about you?

What do you think about this Be Bold, Be Bald campaign?

Have you ever experienced chemo-induced hair loss and if so, how did family and friends support you?

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Featured image via Be Bold, Be Bald 

Be Bold, Be Bald

Even now, it’s really hard for me to look at and share this photo. Good thing Son #2 is in it. I love his smile, that’s what I focus on.

Linda C Boberg

Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Love the picture of you and your son! I find the B is B campaign offensive. While I was an international student advisor, we got many Saudi Arabian students. The women wore hijabs. A young American woman came into ask for support for a day where she wanted every woman on campus to wear a hijab in support of the Saudi women. She understood nothing about why they wear hijabs, or the religious reasoning behind it. All she saw was aa group of women that she felt were repressed (her words). So when I think of women wearing chemo caps in support of cancer havers, or shaving their heads, I don't think of it as good thing. Tell me you're sorry, offer help, but please don't wear aa cap or pink.

Nancy

Thursday 28th of October 2021

Linda, Your experience you shared about offers a unique perspective. Thank you.

Dee

Tuesday 26th of October 2021

Hi! I found your blog post while googleing this organisation. Someone called them out and the Instagram page @thecancerpatient posted about this. It got over 400 comments, and lots of people went over to BBBB's IG to say how hurtful and disgusting their campaign is. So far, all I saw was a "Yeah but.." comment from them, saying that many people, including cancer patients, participate and donate. Hopefully they'll come to their senses.

Julia

Wednesday 27th of October 2021

@Nancy, One aspect of this that especially bothers me is that those wearing the bald caps have a CHOICE in their “baldness” whereas those undergoing chemo do not. Bald-cappers can take the caps off at will. Chemo victims can’t.

Chemo induced hair loss is not of brief duration, unlike the cap wearing; at best, our hair spends the next couple of years going through crazy, unpredictable transitions, a.k.a. “chemo curls.” It may grow back, it may not. It may return a different color or texture. It’s yet another piece of our lives that cancer and its consequences have taken out of our control, another part of ourselves that we give up to cancer.

Finally, I think the campaign takes place in October because breast cancer is seen as way less serious than other cancers, making it a fair target, and the more gimmicks the better during BCAM, right? And those who don’t like it should just lighten up. s/

Nancy

Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Dee, I visited their Instagram account and added my two cents. Just this morning I saw on Twitter that the founder decided to suspend this campaign. I would call that advocacy in action producing results. The founder listened to advocates and patients discussing this on social media and came to this decision. I applaud it and wish the organization well as they steer their advocacy efforts in a new direction. Thank you for reading and taking time to comment too.

Angie

Friday 6th of September 2019

This is disgusting! My hair didn’t come back after chemo five years ago! Being bald is embarrassing not to mention the $1000s I have to fork out for fake hair! Way to mock people who are going through hell!

Ksren Mathisen

Friday 6th of September 2019

And see I have to say thank you to you. I saw this ad on Facebook and it just brought me back to losing my hair during chemo. I felt the tears from everyone who had to endure it. Cancer is not a bald head. I reported the ad to Facebook. I received three messages the first was we will review it. The 2nd message stated that it was against their guidelines and if they were removing it. I thought they were finally doing something right. The third message stated it did not go against their guidelines. So I read their guidelines and it clearly was against their discrimination against health guideline. I tried to repost the ad with a message from myself asking my family and friends that if they felt it was offencive that they should report it. Facebook it's not sharing it but leaving it on my page. I been tried to post the picture of the post and for some reason no one can see it. my message to them was that I had taken photos hairdressers with the Grace Project. And I did that to help other women going through breast cancer to see how reconstruction looks. Whenever I try to post it on a breast cancer site Facebook we remove it and I had to fight them to allow them to show the photos. I just don't understand why we cannot use photos on a private page to help others yet this company has the authority to bring people to tears with their ad. How did you know I posted today your page and I'm hoping people will see it. To all my survivors and for those we've lost I will not stop until they hear my voice.

Danielle Yates

Thursday 25th of October 2018

Great post, Nancy. I agree this campaign must feel like a mockery for what women go through when they lose their hair and I really don't like the gimmicky feeling it has. I haven't personally had breast cancer, but I lost my mother to breast cancer and I have gone through the trauma of a preventative mastectomy in hopes of avoiding the same fate. Given my mother's extended hair loss and what I do for a living (I design wigs and hats for cancer patients), I understand how difficult hair loss can be. I wanted to bring up a point that maybe others hadn't thought about. I don't know anything at all about this campaign so I also don't know the intent behind wearing the bald caps. I will say that I have considered having our staff wear bald caps just for a day. Not as a show of support for cancer patients but so that they could in a some small way experience what it's like to walk around without hair. No, it's not the same as having hair loss but my thought was that maybe this experience could help them to have more compassion. If everyone wore a bald cap for a day as they went about their normal life, perhaps they could have a little more empathy for what women go through when they lose their hair. Even wearing a bald cap for just one day would be hard for most people. Rather than "showing off" by wearing a bald cap for cancer awareness, it might be a good personal exercise to help people be more empathetic. Your thoughts?

Nancy

Friday 26th of October 2018

Danielle, I'm glad you liked the post. I wouldn't call this particular campaign a mockery necessarily, but it does feel shallow and a bit condescending. I have no idea how much money is raised, but I find it interesting the campaign targets October when it's supposed to be benefiting all cancers. I am sorry your mother died from mbc and that you had to make the tough decision to have a prophylactic mastectomy. That's a lot to deal with. I think your idea of having staff wear a bald cap for a day is okay. It might make them feel more empathy for those experiencing baldness due to whatever reason. I like the quieter approach so as not to seem showy. It might be a worthwhile personal exercise, but that of course, is up to you as you know your staff best. Thank you for reading and sharing your idea.

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