Having my head shavedDid you hear the story about the woman fired for shaving her head? In support of her uncle, the cancer victim? A man who lost the battle for life this month?
I was angry enough reading the first sentence, but by the time I learned Stephanie Lozinski had shaved her head on New Year's Eve to support her dying uncle, I was livid on her behalf. Her bosses at Sawatdee Thai allegedly told her that their patrons expect "fine dining," a bald waitress didn't fit in.
Soooo. You have to have hair to look professional. Tell that to the alopecia victims and the cancer victims. And the millions of bald men out there.
Of course, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission has said Lozinski volunteered to be bald, so she doesn't count. This isn't discrimination.
I'll admit I'm biased. I shave my head every year in honor of victims of cancer, just like Lozinski. Only when I do it, I ask for donations "on my head" for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a California-based non-profit that raises money to fight childhood cancer. I'm currently growing my hair out once again for the cause, slated to go bald on March 11. And I dare anyone to tell me I don't look "professional" when I'm walking around with a shiny pate.
Being bald and a female serves a higher purpose for me. It tends to bring out the questions in other people. And it enables me, in turn, to talk up my favorite cause. I'm a walking billboard for cancer research, an in-your-face reminder that cancer remains the leading cause of death in American children ages 1 through 14.
If it makes other people uncomfortable, I'm not apologizing. It's nothing compared to the pain of the approximately 10,400 children under age 15 who were diagnosed with cancer in 2007 or the families of the approximately 1,545 children who die annually from the disease. Or how about the 1,529,560 American men and women (789,620 men and 739,940 women) the National Cancer Institute estimated would be diagnosed with and the 569,490 men and women would die of cancer last year?
People don't go bald for the cancer cause just to make your dining experience somewhat less appetizing. They go bald because this is a disease that ravages people of all ages, gender and color. They go bald because sometimes there are more important things than your surf and turf dinner.
Stephanie Lozinski doesn't want her job back. She simply wants to see other women afforded the right to do what she did -- shave their heads in support of a vital cause without societal retribution. But while she's busy fighting this battle, the owner of the restaurant that started the whole thing deserves a round of (sarcastic) applause. Sawatdee Thai just took Lozinski's message from one town to the world.
Do you think she should have been fired?
Image by Jeanne Sager