Humbling Experience: A Shaved Head For the Kids

Kaitlyn SpanglerWhile thousands of students were on their feet dancing for THON in the Bryce Jordan Center, freshman Kaitlyn Spangler was contributing to the 46-hour dance marathon in a different way.

On the K floor of Simmons Hall, Spangler was surrounded by her friends and family while she had all of her long, blonde hair shaved off. Shaving 15 inches of hair off her head was not only for the kids, but for herself.

“I decided I was going to do it in November. I had a class called Biological Sciences and it was a lot of, ‘who am I?’ type questioning,” Spangler says. “One article we had to read was about going out of your comfort zone. I had a total out of body experience and decided I was going to shave my head.”

Spangler had months to prepare for this huge change, and she turned the waiting process into a fundraiser.  By putting up posters in her hometown of Reading, Pa., asking for donations and fundraising with Club Cross Country, Spangler raised a total of $825 for THON and donated all of her hair to Wigs for Kids. But she knew that the experience would be much more than raising money.

“I was ready for a bigger, more conscious change. Cutting my hair was the first thing I went to. I just assumed that would be through THON, it made the most sense and it had so much meaning to me. I was involved in THON through Club Cross Country and Apollo. I love THON. But I was also recognizing that it would be bigger than that,” Spangler says. “The actual occurrence of THON is one weekend. But this is a longer commitment for me. I recognized that this would be through THON but it was also for myself.”

Her family, friends and boyfriend were all supportive of the idea, and Spangler had a group of 20 to 30 people watching as her hairdresser from home shaved off her hair. Spangler laughed as she spoke of her mom, who freaked out while watching the hair cut. “My mom’s eyes got huge, and I was just laughing,” Spangler says.

Not having hair was difficult for Spangler at first. “The first few days, so many people told me I looked beautiful. It was really hard, that’s not why I did it,” Spangler says. “I really have to remind myself this is a humbling experience. It’s not about the attention I’m receiving; it’s the act that I did.”

Being bald has given Spangler a whole new outlook on life. She has gotten used to the stares she receives from strangers on the street, and says that she is more aware of people who have lost their hair due to illness.

“I’m not sick, I don’t have cancer. I deal with the looks, but I have a whole new appreciation for people who deal with all of that. This is what I chose,” Spangler says.

Spangler also chose to shave her head so others wouldn’t be fooled by her long, blonde hair. She wanted people to see who she truly was. “I was ready to show people how I feel inside all the time. With long blonde hair, it would take a while to peel away the layers for people to find out who I am. I want people to know who I am instantaneously,” Spangler says.

She wants to show others that with confidence, it’s possible to do something you had never imagined doing. Spangler says that she had never thought of shaving her head before taking Biological Sciences. She recommends that students enroll in the class, which helps you to question yourself.

“The teacher focused a lot on giving yourself permission to do things that aren’t within your bubble,” Spangler says. “He asked the big question of, ‘why not?’ But I don’t just want to ask these questions, I want to do them.”

Spangler hopes that other people will follow in her footsteps, not necessarily shaving their heads, but in questioning why something can’t happen.

“Some people have also asked me what I would look like with a shaved head. I know I’m biased, but I tell them all they’d look great. I’m willing to exhibit strength for other people to find strength in. I’m willing to struggle in front of other people to inspire them,” Spangler says. “I feel like this is something I’m good at. I feel like a lot of people can be better at it then they are.”

Photo by Haley Blazer


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