Zoe Foster: Put your hair to better use.

Zoe Foster







If you had the opportunity to support women with cancer, I’m guessing you probably would. In fact, being the brilliant, good-looking, kindhearted Mamamia reader that you are, I’m guessing you already do.

So… What if you could support women with cancer AND get that dazzling short haircut you’ve always thought about but haven’t had the coconuts to follow through on? Guess what? You can. You really, really can.

Here’s how.

Pantene, of which I am an ambassador, has launched a program called Beautiful Lengths, which encourages women with long hair to cut it, and then donate it to be made into a real-hair wig for women undergoing cancer treatment. For those who have undergone cancer treatment, or know a dame who has, you will know that despite impressive advances in synthetic hair wigs, nothing can come close to a hair that moves, looks and behaves like (“is”) real hair.

It’s a marked visual difference, but it’s also psychological –for a lot of us, our hair shapes how we feel about ourselves. And having a wig that feels and looks like your old hair when you have lost it can be a huge boost to confidence during a pretty shitty time.

Sadly, these real hair wigs are pretty prohibitive. (Between $800 – $3000.)  Beautiful Lengths was created to give them to women with cancer for free.

For those who have heard of Look Good… Feel Better, a national community service program that hosts workshops for women with cancer to help them (using makeup and skincare products donated by cosmetic companies) restore their appearance during treatment, you will know how wonderful it is. And if you know of any women undergoing treatment who has not already been to a workshop, please encourage her to go along. (She will also learn excellent wig, turban, scarf and hat techniques.)


The goal is simple – so simple it’s in the name – if these women look good, then they feel better. And they do. The change in mood and self-confidence from the start to the end of a workshop is remarkable. I know this because I have attended many of them, believe in the philosophy very much, and am an ambassador for Look Good… Feel Better.

For those counting, that’s two things I am ambassador for. This is relevant for transparency, but also because in a glorious moment of serendipity, Pantene chose to partner with Look Good… Feel Better for Beautiful Lengths, and the real hair wigs created in the campaign will be distributed via the LGFB to cancer patients around Australia. Which is all kinds of excellent, and part of the reason I have taken to my workbench to tell you dames about all this.

Beautiful Lengths has been going for a few years overseas with great success, but 2012 is the first year it’s in Australia. Obviously we need to show the rest of the world we are not opposed to cutting our hair off, especially if it’s for a good cause, and according to my Book of Good Causes, this one definitely is. Maybe you’re up for something raw and renegade like Miley Cyrus’ new hair? Or chic and coquettish like Anne Hathaway’s current look? Or a sweet pixie cut in the vein of Michelle Williams? Or even a sleek, all one length, jawline-scraping bob, ALA Alicia Keys or that babe from Hot Shots 2?

Whatever you’re thinking, don’t book in your haircut just yet.

At this stage all we ask is that you keep growing your hair, and for you to go to beautifullengths.com.au to pledge your ponytail come November 12, which is the start of National Donate Your Hair Week, a week when you will see the alluring Naomi Watts, who is the spokesperson for Beautiful Lengths, reminding you all that NOW is the time to cut off your mop.


…Actually, that’s not all we ask, we ask that your luscious, generous hair donation meets this criteria:

–       Your donation is at least 20cm in length (these wigs need a lot of hair, man! It takes six of these lovely hair donations to make one wig!)

–       Hair can be dyed with semi-permanents or henna/vegetable dye, but not bleached, chemically treated or permanently dyed.

–       Sadly, it cannot be more than 5% grey. Or, yknow, in dreadlocks.

As you can imagine in a nation of haircolour-crazy women, this criteria makes the pool of women able to donate a little smaller*, so if you do fit the brief, then please really, really consider making the chop. And if you don’t, please pester any friends who do, and don’t be afraid to remind them how great short hair is for summer and that it will grow back and everyone’s doing it and it’s really cool and James Ryan from Year 9 totally loves short hair and will probably, definitely ask you out if you do it.

To join in and for more information (and less chat about James Ryan): go to www.beautifullengths.com.au

Thank you for reading this post, which I know hasn’t taught you anything about how to get rid of ingrown hairs or the best waterproof mascara, but concerns a campaign which I believe is meaningful and relevant in this space.

*Sadly my hair is too short and too full of bleach to partake.

Zoe Foster is an author, columnist and porridge fan. Her books include the beauty bible Amazing Face, dating and relationship guide Textbook Romance, and three novels, Air KissesPlaying The Field and The Younger Man. Find more info on Zoe Foster here, or supervise on her daily procrastination here and here.

Please understand that Zoë Foster cannot respond to ALL your questions – but never fear, there are readers that are bound to know the answers, so don’t be afraid to ask.

For more from Naomi Watts (and Zoe Foster!) on Beautiful Lengths, head over to visit our sister site iVillage.com.au