By Megan Rule | Opinion Editor
Chip Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper announced last week that he would cut his man bun off if fans donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Gaines said the more money raised, the more hair would be cut off. If fans “exceed the expectations,” he might even go to a buzz cut.
Gaines and his wife, Joanna, are visiting St. Jude’s Research Hospital in Memphis, which sparked the idea of this post. Gaines said in his caption, “No family ever pays @StJude for treatment, travel or food—so basically, we want to bring them a giant check from YOU to help cover costs—lets come together to do something big to bless these kiddos.”
Something about the publicity and the nature of this didn’t settle right with me. About a year and a half ago, I shaved my head with St. Baldrick’s in order to raise money for childhood cancer research. It was probably the most life changing experience that I’ve had in my short, 19-year-life. To meet doctors that treat children and families that have children affected by cancer was powerful in itself –– to then hear them say that the money I raised made a difference, and to see charts that show how much a certain amount of money does is moving beyond belief.
So why was I reading all the articles and tweets about Gaines’ post and not overwhelmed with joy and excitement and support for a quest I had recently taken myself? At first I didn’t know; I expressed it as just a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. I talked to my mom and I told her that something wasn’t settling with me about the whole thing.
Then I realized what it was –– I believe that the right intentions are not there. By that, I mean that the way I perceive Gaines’ posts are as publicity stunts. The fact that the “expectation” Gaines has wasn’t announced is a little odd to me, because it doesn’t give donating fans a goal. But, the statement that “maybe if you really exceed my expectations … I’ll buzz it all off” is really fishy, because it puts the emphasis on Gaines’ hair, not the children the money is going to.
When I participated in St. Baldrick’s, granted, it is a different organization, but I said I was shaving my head for awareness, regardless of if I met my goal or not. This way, when people saw me after I shaved my head, it sparked a conversation, and led them to donate even after the fact. My answer to people asking why I did it? It’s just hair, and in the grand scheme of things, hair doesn’t matter, the lives of children do.
So, Gaines saying that the more money fans donate, the more hair will be chopped off is wrong to me, because it puts focus on Gaines’ hair and not the children. Yes, it is honorable that he is asking fans to donate. Yes, I do believe he is using his fame to bring headlines to the things that matter. But I also believe he should tailor the focus so it’s more toward the children and the hospital receiving the benefits of the donations, not toward his famous man bun.