Little boy grows hair long just so he can donate it, regardless of gender stereotypes

Convincing a little boy to get a haircut can be a battle. But one 11-year-old had the best excuse for skipping snips for two years.

Gavin had heard about programs like Locks of Love that allow people to donate own hair for a wig if it’s long enough, and “thought it would be nice to give people who don’t have hair, hair,” he told Yahoo Lifestyle.

A boy grew out his hair so he could help those in need. (Photo: Roxana Perdue via @roxanaperdue)
A boy grew out his hair so he could help those in need. (Photo: Roxana Perdue via @roxanaperdue)

He had already been growing out his hair when he realized the difference he could make in a cancer or alopecia patient’s life. “I started growing it long about two years ago but decided around Thanksgiving/Christmas to donate it,” Gavin, who’s never had hair this long, said.

“I would bring him to the hairdresser in an attempt to give it some shape/style and get it out of his face by having it layered,” his mom Rebecca told Yahoo Lifestyle. “He then mentioned months ago wanting to donate it, so we agreed to let it be so the layers could grow out.” The big cut came this past Saturday.

His sister, who is a model, posted photos of him before and after the big chop on Instagram yesterday with a caption praising his decision. In the after image, the young boy is holding his former ponytail that they donated to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program, which provides wigs to women fighting cancer.

“Proud of my little brother for putting up with being mistaken for a girl so he could donate to a worthy cause! 💇🏻‍♂️💙,” Abby wrote on Instagram.

His mother wasn’t entirely on board at first. “I honestly did not fully appreciate the long hair,” she admitted. “They say how you should pick your battles and that was one we weren’t willing to fight so, we let him decide.”

His dad Bill appreciated his decision, however, and for good reason. “His father is bald and was very supportive, saying to ‘enjoy it while he still had it.’”

Children aren’t always so supportive, though. Unfortunately, gender norms call for long hair only to be worn by girls, so by making this decision, Gavin was subjecting himself to taunting and teasing. But that didn’t worry him. “I’m not that concerned with how I look to others,” the admirable kid said. Luckily, his peers knew better than to bully him over something so selfless and bold. “My friends would make fun of me, but certainly not bullying. Just for fun; we’re boys” he said. In fact, they thought it was “cool” that Gavin was donating his hair.

According to his mom, it was the adults he encountered who were critical, “questioning the long hair on a boy, highlighting gender stereotypes.” He’d get questions from older folks like, “You’re a boy, why do you have such long hair?” He was once stopped once by an older gentleman trying to “get into the men’s room.” When he was getting it cut for the donation, a woman actually called out to the family saying, “You’re not cutting her hair that short!?”

Gavin was mistaken for a girl, but it didn’t bother him. “I thought it was pretty funny and would just say, ‘I’m actually a boy’ and they would be surprised and sometimes wouldn’t believe me.”

Rebecca describes her son as a kid who doesn’t like to stand out, believe it or not. “That’s one of the reasons why we felt that he should be allowed to wear his hair as he wished especially if it brought him somewhat ‘unwanted’ attention,” she reasoned. “I don’t think that at 9-11 years old, he would recognize that it was empowering, but we felt that for him,” she gushed. They were “thrilled” that he was doing something he wanted without being swayed by gender stereotypes.

“His whole family was so proud when he decided to grow it even longer to be able to donate,” Rebecca said. The decision hit home for their family, as Gavin’s paternal grandmother died of cancer and had lost her hair, “so it was quite meaningful to the rest of the family.”

Funnily enough, Gavin was excited to finally be rid of the long locks, but his mother will miss them. “It made him easy to spot on the soccer and flag football field.”

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