Hair today, gone tomorrow

DOWNEY - For reasons even she can't explain, Maria Veronica Solis is uniquely attached to her hair.With her golden brown locks cascading nearly 5 feet -- almost to the ground -- Solis has not cut her hair for more than 20 years. That is, until last week. Heeding the advice of family, friends, and even a firefighter, Solis finally consented to a haircut. Marcello's beauty salon on Florence Avenue donated their services, tying her hair into a neat ponytail before chopping off 4 feet of hair. Lisa Fox, a family friend, collected the hair and shipped it to Locks of Love, which will use the donation to create prosthetics for children suffering from long-term hair loss. For Solis, who works as a waitress at Pete's Burgers on Firestone Boulevard, Locks of Love is a particularly poignant foundation to support. Her older sister is a survivor of cervical cancer, and she witnessed one of her regular customers go bald after undergoing chemotheraphy for breast cancer. Before the cut, Solis's hair reached down to her ankles. It took nearly two hours to shampoo and rinse the hair, and it was impossible to brush without an extra hand. The hair also wreacked havoc at work. Once, while she was standing on a stool changing a lightbulb, Solis says, her ponytail fell onto a stovetop and caught fire. From then on she was required to tuck her hair into the back of her pants. Those were the consequences of letting it grow for so long -- Solis hadn't cut the hair since she was 21 and pregnant with her daughter. Now 41, she decided two years ago it was time for a cut. But it took 24 months of hemming and hawing to finally go through with it. Solis says a Downey firefighter noticed her hair and stopped her at a restaurant once, where he explained to Solis about the department's annual hair-cutting fundraiser, where community members shave or cut their hair and raise money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Even though Solis ultimately chose Locks for Love, she says the firefighter helped her realize she needed to do good with her hair. "When your hair is that long, it becomes a part of your body," says Solis. "I feel like I was cutting off a part of my body...It's hard to explain." Solis's new 'do is chic and contemporary. Her hair was straightened and comes down to her shoulders, where it ends with a little upward flip. If you look really fast, it almost resembles a Jennifer Aniston cut. Almost. The best part is, there's no chance the hair will ever catch fire on a stove again.

********** Published: April 10, 2009 - Volume 7 - Issue 51

FeaturesEric Pierce