My Story of BRCA, on CNN

Within hours of the news of Angelina’s double mastectomy, I got an email from CNN International, asking if I’d be interested in sharing my story with the world. If there’s any way I can help other women (and men) heading down a similar path, I’m in. [Can’t see the embedded video? Click here instead!]

While not many in the U.S. are able to see the programming on CNNI, I hear I’m huge in Germany. 😉


Girls and Long Hair: What Message Are We Sending?

I grew up hating my hair. Mousy brown (that’s right, I was not born with this vibrant ever-changing grey red hair), super fine, lifeless… I dreamed of having bouncy, shiny hair like those orgasmic beauties in the shampoo commercials. It’s probably why I’ve had no problem trying so many different styles throughout my lifetime — no matter how bad it gets, it can’t be much worse than the hair I was born with.


Photo credit: Renee Bowen Photography

So when I was blessed with my daughter, I latched onto her black, thick, shiny Asian hair like she was Rapunzel and I was desperately climbing for my one chance to experience long, flowing, gorgeous locks. Seriously, her hair is perfect.

So when she started talking about cutting it short several months back, I would nod and smile and know that it just wasn’t going to happen. A few months ago, she stepped up her game, telling anyone who’d listen how she wanted a Mohawk. As I do when she asks for something that’s absolutely out of the question, I told her she could have one when she was 14.

I was pretty confident in my decision… until the doubt began to creep in. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t she have super short hair that she could style into a “fauxhawk”? Sorry, I don’t do Mohawks with my boys either — it’s not happening. I realized that I was projecting my own self doubt and insecurities onto my strong, sassy daughter. If she wants her hair cut, who am I to stop it from happening? Yes, kids might tease her… you know it happens. But the only thing worse than that is teaching her that she should make choices in life solely based on how other people (not even people she cares about) might perceive them.

Around the same time I had begun to doubt myself for being so rigid, I read an interview that Jada Pinkett Smith gave to People. While I’m not one to usually jump on what celebrities do or how they parent their children, Jada’s words about her own daughter Willow’s hair really moved, and stuck, with me.

This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination.

Willow cuts her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. Even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires.

She’s so right. We try to teach our daughters to love their bodies, no matter the size. We want to empower girls to respect themselves and not give their bodies away in exchange for a few minutes of feeling accepted and loved. But how can we teach them to make strong, independent decisions about their own selves when society, peers (and yes, even parents) are sending mixed messages that it’s okay to be yourself but only if you fit into what others deem beautiful?

I realized I was absolutely wrong and I told my daughter just that. I explained that while we weren’t going to go for the buzzed on the sides, long on the top full Mohawk, we were absolutely okay with her going for the short “pixie” type hair that she can then style into a fauxhawk when she feels inspired to do so. I told her that she was beautiful, inside and out, and it’s more than okay — it’s important — for her to be able to express who she is in creative, positive ways. If that means chopping off her hair, her dad and I were all for it.

But we had only one request. Since her hair was already so long (yet not long enough to meet the donation requirements) we asked that she wait a few more months to get her locks to a length that could be cut and donated to Wigs for Kids. I explained how there are kids who have no hair, for a variety of reasons, and would be so happy to receive a wig made from my daughter’s beautiful hair.

With a big smile on her face, she agreed — she was in.

So she waited… and it grew… and grew.

















It grew so long, it was constantly annoying her… in her face as she slept… the pony tail flopping around during gymnastics. She couldn’t wait for her hair to be cut. So this morning, we headed out to make it happen.

haircutI was worried that she’d regret cutting it all off but the smile on her face told me otherwise. It was bittersweet, seeing her so happy yet knowing that it was me and my stuff that kept her from feeling this for way too long. It was as if a weight were being lifted off her shoulders — I was finally seeing her for who she is and it felt so good.

Of course it wouldn’t be a hair post without the dramatic “after” shots. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present… my daughter.

















Weigh in: When I asked on Facebook whether parents would be willing to hand over control of their kids’ appearance, most of you said absolutely not. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Just Say ‘No’ to Baby Showers?

This photo from Victoria Beckham’s baby shower has been popping up all over the Internet. Posh Spice, who’s expecting her fourth child — and first girl — is seen wrapped in toilet paper during what looks like a silly shower game.

I don’t know what’s more surprising, the appearance that Mrs. Beckham could actually have a sense of humor or the fact that she’s having a shower for kid #4. I can imagine that after having three boys (11, 8 and 5), she’s excited to celebrate the arrival of her little girl, but do you think her celebrity friends are a little annoyed that they have to drop another $500 on a onesie?

Celebrities aside, more women seem to be having baby showers to celebrate the arrival of each and every kid. On the one hand, it’s nice to see a fuss made over all babies — and not just the first — but for those of us in the real world, is it a little much to expect friends and family to endure the games (and cost of a gift), just because you’ve decided to become a pro at procreation?

What are your thoughts?

Lesson #32: Friends Like Charlie Sheen Make the World Go ‘Round

Facebook is like a class reunion, except for your entire life. That’s been proven in recent weeks as I’ve reconnected with people who’ve played such a huge role in my almost 40 years.

But I love not only being able to catch up with those I’ve lost touch with, Facebook has also helped me in growing friendships with people I might only know in passing. For example, my next door neighbor, who I see maybe once every week or two… has become a real friend because we’ve been able to get to know each other online, eliminating the need for small talk and niceties when we get together. I’m so lucky to have that sassy, funny, honest east coast girl living not even 20 feet away from my house. I can’t wait for Brady and her daughter to start kindergarten together!

Another friend the World Wide Web has allowed me to bond with is Renee and her hubby Andrew. Without them, I wouldn’t have learned some things over the past several months that have opened my mind to new ideas or known about a local support group of families with autism. And I wouldn’t have had two more funny and fabulous people to work with me on our latest project (TBA soon).

But enough about my incredible life filled with the most amazing of friends. Here’s a little something to make you laugh, courtesy of Jacob’s BFF, Andrew Bowen Charlie Sheen.