VITTAL MALLYA ROAD: At Bald and Beautiful, held at UB City, over 150 people, including 20 women, went under the razor in solidarity with cancer patients who lose their hair to chemotherapy.
Celebrity stylist, Sabrina Suhail, took part to honour her aunt who fought her battle against Hodgkin disease with inspiring courage and resilience. For a woman, the stigma around baldness is even more. “The Indian society expects women to have long hair. It is changing, but very slowly," she says. "But I feel liberated today.“
Medha Khanna, a 16-year-old studying at Canadian International School, registered for the event online. She travelled from her hostel in Yelahanka to pledge support for the cause. “I have heard about my friends and relatives going through the ordeal and they hesitate to step out," she says.
Undeterred by her friends' discouragement, she went ahead and shaved off her locks to encourage patients to come out of the zone and communicate confidently.
Another young woman who came forward is 20-year-old Karen Ruth who wanted to fight the stigma attached to women losing their hair. “An event like this helps cancer patients know that there are others out there and that it's not as bad as it seems,” she explains.
Actress Vaishali Deepak too attended the event. She had lost her grandmother to the disease, while her mother is a breast cancer survivor and her aunt is currently undergoing treatment for brain cancer. “My mom decided to shave her head prior to the treatment. For the first two days she was depressed. But she stayed positive," she says. "It was hard even for me because I had grown up admiring her long hair." Carolina, a 50-year-old from Chennai who happened to be in the city, contributed on a whim. She walked in to the event without any prior knowledge and decided to cut off her hair to show solidarity.
HCG director Dr Gopinath says that the hair loss stage, termed alopecia, is unavoidable. “Research has been done in the field to prevent hair loss, but to no avail. Earlier an ice-pack used to be placed on the head to stop the fall, but it hasn't worked," he says. "The hair-fall makes some question the necessity of chemotherapy, and some others go into depression. This event will get people to discuss these issues,” he says.
Through her art, Sonali M aims to change the notion that cancer leads to death. She spent a week on each of the six acrylic glass paintings of bald women who had championed the cause. “I looked them up online and I decided to splash their stories on my canvas,” she says.
She read about a three-year-old survivor. The portrait of his face shows two sides — the left channels pain and the right side embodies relief. “I wanted people to see the positive,“ she explains.
Nine dresses, starting at `5,000, were up for a charity auction by designer Kavitha Rajendra. “Eco-friendly materials were used to make the dresses. This is my attempt to spread awareness,“ she says.
Austin Prakesh, board member, The Austin Foundation, who also owns the Fitness Fight Club, decided to put together the event to counter the depression associated with chemotherapy. He had seen his mother and another relative go through it. “I believe Bald is Beautiful. Hopefully the event will break the taboo,” he says.