Monday, March 8, 2010

Sherri on Hair-Flair for Hope

"My family goes back three generations in Washington, D.C. I went to Florida for college, but couldn't take the heat and lack of culture there, so I moved back to this area. I transferred to the University of Maryland and got a job as a DJ. At the time, I was all rock and roll and had a pink mohawk. After school, I cleaned up a little and took a job at IBM. I started off in administration and ended up as a systems engineer, which is something that none of my friends know because I don't have a cell phone and people think of me as a technophobe. I was actually a Unix systems engineer.  

“All through my working life, I was always searching for this really creative career. I worked at a number of big organizations, but always felt like a fish out of water. Then I got sick a number of years ago and had to leave the work force. I spent ten years flailing around and had no focus. I was spending a lot of time at home and started making colorful wigs out of yarn because I always dressed slightly out of the norm. I started making them for my friends who were in the arts and began holding wig-making workshops. 

“At the time, I lost a number of people to cancer who meant a lot to me. One in particular was Kimberly ‘Kaihea’ Rupp.  She told me that she wished she could come to one of my workshops and make a wig, as she had experienced hair-loss at the time of chemotherapy. At the time, I hadn't figured out how to attach the wig to a bare scalp. I have always regretted that I didn’t figure out how to make her a fabulous wig, but I named this project in her honor. Now we make wigs on bandana-shaped wig-caps. 

“Cancer is a really frightening thing, and I wanted to find a way to make women and children feel like rock stars. I think that people who lose their hair to medical treatments go through a period when they are grieving about their own loss, especially after chemotherapy.  We are all walking canvases of art. I have always believed that the face deserves a proper frame of hair. More than anything, our hair is a simple representation of what our attitude is on the inside. I hope that on the days when people who are ill feel like they don’t have a lot of light, these wigs will help them illuminate their beautiful inner colors.

“Now I wear my wig most of the time. Originally, I did it because I thought it looked cool. I wear it in solidarity with people who have gone through something more terrifying than I can imagine. This project has given me something to identify with after feeling so devoid of life for so long after I had gotten sick. With this project, I feel plugged into life again.” 

Learn more about Hair-Flair for Hope, Sherri's organization, here. To donate money, materials or time, email Sherri at  


Carmen said...

Sherri, Thank you for your gifts to those in need. I agree that hair is both a frame of the face and a window into our soul. Embracing the loss of something so dear by wearing such loud wigs makes a powerful statement. May your work bring continued strength to you and those you help.

Nadia said...

As a cancer survivor, the significance of losing one's hair is immense. While I don't know if I would have been bold enough to wear one of Sherri's colorful wigs, I appreciate what she is doing for those suffering hair-loss from cancer.

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

You are one awesome spirit. Thank you for sharing your JOY. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

~*~Patty Szymkowicz said...

Beautiful, Amazing and SO Inspiring!
Brightest of Blessings to you and yours!

EFRUTIK said...

Very inspiring. Best to you!

P. Rocerin said...

I wear a baseball cap to cover my bald spot, but sometime I run into trouble. Out of respect and custom, I have to remove my hat in church or in court. Some teachers don't allow hats in class either. But a Warhol Wig (tm) solves the problem, except that on hot days it creates sweaty new ones. But at least they can't make you take your chic wig off!

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