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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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June 16, 2024

Lecturer’s long hair goes long way

Tarvin
Photo by Photo by: Alexis Will
Tarvin

One trip to Costa Rica, a move to Texas A&M and four haircuts later, a tradition began for communication lecturer David Tarvin.
Tarvin made the move to Texas A&M a little over a year ago after spending time in Costa Rica to teach literature and grammar. He now teaches intercultural communication, public speaking and communication leadership and conflict management. For the last eight years, he has cut his hair biannually on his birthday and donated it to various organizations that make wigs for cancer patients.
Tarvin previously donated to Locks of Love, but switched to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths donation program after assigning one of his classes a persuasive speech project.
“Last semester, a student gave a speech about donating to Pantene rather than Locks of Love,” Tarvin said. “In her speech, she talked about how Locks of Love actually charges cancer patients for wigs. They also sell your hair to make money for the organization. Pantene doesn’t sell the hair. They just use it to make wigs.”
Aja Silvas, Pantene Beautiful Lengths’ communication manager, said the goal of the donation program is to help women who have undergone cancer treatments in the past or who are currently fighting cancer feel more confident about themselves.
“The purpose of Pantene Beautiful Lengths is to restore a little bit of normalcy when a woman needs it most,” Silvas said. “As one breast cancer survivor put it, ‘It was very hard when my hair started falling out. It really takes away who you are when you look in the mirror.’”
Silvas said the process to make a wig relies heavily on hair donations from people like Tarvin and all of the money donations Pantene receives. Whether hair or monetary, the donations go toward making patients feel a little bit better about themselves.
“The number of hair donations we receive in a year continues to grow,” Silva said. “We want to make it possible for women everywhere to share their hair with women who have lost theirs — whether that means sending in your hair or making a monetary donation to the program.”
Andrea Terry, doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication, also helped Tarvin make his decision to switch to Pantene.  
“Shortly before David decided to cut his hair, I had cut off 8 inches of my own hair to donate,” Terry said. “I’d done some research on different organizations and recommended that he go through Pantene Beautiful Lengths because they are proactive in finding women to provide with wigs and also give you confirmation that your hair has been used to make a wig.”
Professor Tarvin joked that the decision to start growing out his hair all bloomed from his fear of going bald.
“As a man who is terrified of balding, which is why I originally grew my hair long … I was like, ‘I’m going to grow long hair,’” Tarvin said. “If I go bald, I’m going to do a comb over, and I’m going to need enough hair to do that.”
Tarvin said more people should make the choice to donate their hair to people who need it more.
“I love hair,” Tarvin said. “It’s such an identifier, like people know me as the guy with long hair. People use it as an identifier and so many children — I can’t imagine the shame that they should not have, but could possibly have. If we can make anyone feel more comfortable about their illness or feel more comfortable about just living life, then how hard is it to [do that]. If you have the hair and you need the haircut … might as well.”

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