In January, she took to the stage in a black bikini to compete for the Miss America crown. This week, Miss Virginia 2008 Tara Wheeler sat down to shave her hair off to help fight kid’s cancer.
She passed her crown on in June, so Wheeler doesn’t need the locks that will be shorn to hold it up anymore. Instead, she’s turning her head into a walking billboard of sorts for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a national non-profit which raises money for children’s cancer research and treatment.
Beauty pageants are never going to get me out there shaking my pom poms, but is it any surprise that the beauty queen willing to shave her shoulder-length hair has been bucking the traditional girly girl trend all along?
A few cases in point: in the grand tradition of beauty queens giving back, Wheeler toured the state this year for the Children’s Miracle Network. Among her favorite fundraisers? Shootouts with the Virginia Tech men’s ice hockey team and the Norfolk Admirals’ American Hockey League team. That’s because she’s a former goalie for the Penn State women’s ice hockey team.
Wheeler told FoxSports being a hockey player and a pageant contestant together helped break down walls. “I think it’s good for the Miss America Pageant right now because there’s a lot of negative stereotypes about pageant girls and I’ve found out that they’re definitely not true. So being a hockey goalie means more attention drawn to our program because it’s someone who’s a little bit different.”
In a society where hair is a defining feminine characteristic intertwined with our beauty ideals, I’m going to wager this is an even bigger stereotype buster. And dare I say a better example for little girls?
Let’s start ticking them off, shall we? Beauty comes from within. Check. Give back. Check. It’s just hair. Check. Should we keep going?
Watch it all go down (note the braiding of her hair – the braids were saved to donate to another organization that makes wigs for kids who have lost their hair):
A proud St. Baldrick’s head shaving survivor three times over, I salute Tara Wheeler. And you can too – Team Tara has already raised $31,500, but she’s gunning for half a million.
Image: St. Baldrick’s
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