Since the now closed organization Henna Heals began raising awareness about “Henna Crowns” in 2010 henna artists around the world have begun to use their skills to serve women who have suffered hair loss due to chemotherapy by designing beautiful and inspiring temporary henna tattoos for women to wear proudly instead of covering up their heads with scarves or hats or wigs.
Some women dealing with cancer find the emotional aspect of hair loss difficult to cope with, shaking their confidence and causing them to question their beauty and womanhood.
In fact some women even have lost their hair permanently as a result of cancer drugs and one woman wrote that the loss of her hair hit her harder than the loss of a breast. Christine says she waited patiently for her hair to return for almost a year, before she found out about the alleged link between permanent hair loss and the chemotherapy drug Taxotere.
“I was utterly devastated as I felt I had lost my femininity and aged another 20 years, all at once. It was so much worse than losing a breast to cancer, because that could be fixed – I had undergone a reconstruction. Not for a second was I not grateful to be alive, but I thought it so unfair that I did not look the same as I did before the cancer tsunami struck. Looking in the mirror every day is a constant reminder of what I have been through,” said Christine.
The goal of the henna crown movement is to give these women back a feeling of being beautiful and special and a walking work of art. In West Michigan several artists have created a henna project called Crowns of Courage that not only includes a beautiful henna crown tattoo and body art but also a confidence building photo shoot.
“Losing their hair, which represents beauty, especially in our culture today, can be really shocking and really hard,” said artist Amanda Gilbert to Fox 17 News. “A lot of the women that have gotten in contact with us have shared how hard it’s been for them to lose their hair. Being able to use henna to replace that really brings out that inner goddess warrior, that beauty that they have inside them, to be a walking encouragement to other women that are going through the same thing.”
After hearing their stories, Gilbert designs personalized henna crowns for each woman she and photographer Dave Burgess work with on the Crowns of Courage project. “When they look at the photos, I want them to see strength, a positive attitude, hope, peace, serenity and beauty,” said Burgess.
Fox 17 News interviewed one 17-year-old woman who took part in the project and she said, “I felt so beautiful. Even on days where you’re supposed to feel so beautiful, like prom or when you’re getting married, I don’t think it’ll ever top that. They say it lasts a couple weeks, but for me this is going to last forever, because I’ll never forget it.”
It is not too late to participate in this photo project. Gilbert and Burgess plan to participate in ArtPrize 2017 this fall. Visit their website if you want to share your story and have art created for you.