78ºF

Isis Romero: Why I cut my hair

And the new look!
And the new look!

SAN ANTONIO – One of my most vivid childhood memories is of my mother's long, beautiful hair.

I would snuggle up to her on rainy afternoons and cover myself with it as if it were a warm blanket. I remember pulling on her ponytail to get her attention, and stroking her strands when she placed me on her lap to read me a bedtime story.

When my hair was long enough, she taught me to braid it and brush it, and we would spend what felt like hours detangling it before I went to sleep.

Growing up, my sister and I rarely cut our hair. We wanted it to be just like Mommy's.

When Mom was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 38, her hair was one of the first things to go. Her Stage 4 breast cancer took so much away from her, including that long, gorgeous mane I remembered from my childhood.

As she fought her battle, and as the eyebrows, eyelashes, and hair began falling out, Mom decided it was finally time to purchase a wig.

My parents were floored when they browsed through the specialty wig shop, peeking at the hefty price tags of each hair piece. We are a family of very humble means, and my frugal mother was the kind of woman who did not spend money on herself, instead spending her paycheck on family essentials.

Several hundred dollars for a wig was not an affordable option for our family, but one my parents had to choose anyway. 

"Because she's worth it," I remember Dad saying.

In the time that followed, that wig provided some sense of normalcy in what had been a chaotic and uncertain past few years.

She died years later in 2008.

In the business of television news, I'm often asked why I keep my hair so long. Though it's popular among TV anchors now, it wasn't always that way.

When I landed my first reporter job in 2003 -- and when short, anchorwoman hair was very much the norm -- my boss allowed me to keep mine long, provided it was polished and out of my face.

With the exception of one 6-inch haircut in 2013 (remember that one, San Antonio?), I've kept it long ever since. Through the years, my hair has sort of become my trademark, and a huge part of my identity on television.

The truth is, I keep my hair this length because it reminds me of my mom. I look in the mirror, and I see so much of her in me -- an image of the brave, beautiful woman I miss so much, and someday hope to become.

I may have Dad's personality, but my eyes, my lips, my hair… that's all Mom.

Now that I'm a mother myself, I think about the children who are enduring much of what she did during her cancer battle. The chemo, the radiation, the surgeries, the changes in appearance, the worry! CHILDREN ARE GOING THROUGH THIS! CHILDREN!!! Nothing about this is fair, but sadly, it's just the way it is. 

Every kid suffering through hair loss should have a wig. A free one. A fabulous, fun, and FREE wig in whatever length or color they want! They deserve it, dammit! That's why I chopped my hair off.

I discovered Children with Hair Loss after researching nonprofit organizations that provide hair replacement to children at no cost to their families. For those of you also looking to donate your locks, I also found Wigs For Kids, Wigs 4 Kids, and Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which expands their hair-replacement services to include adult women. Consider it, please.

My mother was a giver. She had a generous, honest, and unselfish spirit, and always placed the needs of others before herself.

Yes, I do plan to grow my hair back someday, but for now, I'm embracing my new look, and realizing it doesn't take me having long hair, to strive to be more like mommy.

Slideshow: Isis' hair journey


About the Author: