Stand Up to Cancer Day

Beauty Standards in our society


Without giving it a deeper thought, people have a vision in their heads of what is considered beautiful and what not. There is a term for this – beauty standards. Although this concept has existed for a long time, it’s recently heavily influenced by social media and celebrities. We are told what to wear, how to do our make-up, how to grow long and beautiful hair and so on.

Beauty standards throughout history

Beauty standards have existed for centuries, even before people started following fashion and beauty trends to look more appealing to the crowd on social media. This pressure is especially put upon women. Without pretty nails they are not “well taken care of”, without trendy clothes they are not “rich and successful” enough, without long hair they are not “feminine” enough, without a fit body they are “not taking care of their bodies” enough and with body hair, they are “rebelling against society”. While the last one can be quite true, the point is that it’s their own choice. 

 There’s an amazing movement called “body positivity” which actually started a lot earlier than you would think: in the 1850s-1890s. Women were standing up to a fashion trend of modifying their bodies through the use of corsets and tightlacing in order to fit the societal standard of tiny waistlines. Instead, they tried to promote more rational dresses and the right to wear pants.

 The first massive wave of the original body positivity movement was in 1967, in New York. This started with fighting against fat-shaming. One of the missions was to spread awareness of the distinction between being fat and being unhealthily obese. The second wave in the 1990s was more focused on training programs for all sizes. Home exercise programs were a trend since people could feel in a safer environment while working out. The third wave started in 2012 when an American plus-size model, blogger, and make-up artist Tess Holliday founded ‘@EffYourBeautyStandards‘, which was a huge support pillar for the body positivity movement. The movement challenged the unrealistic standards of feminine beauty like smooth skin, body size, and avoidance of any imperfections that both men and women were facing in society. 

 Movement or no, people should have the freedom to be and look however they want to, regardless of what image of beauty the society has. 

Let’s talk about hair and cancer

One of the beauty standards that most women are facing is having long hair. It’s a definition of femininity – it’s sad, but this is the world that we live in at the moment. This is especially challenging for people with cancer since one of the side effects of the treatment is loss of hair. In most cases, this social pressure makes their health journey emotionally even harder since they feel like losing their hair is losing their femininity and identity. The connection that they had with themselves before cancer. Having to deal with this and the constant fear of not surviving this tough period in their lives is more than exhausting, it’s indescribable. 

 There’s an amazing video made by Vogue magazine where nine women describe how they dealt and are still dealing with hair loss. Each of these women had a strong relationship with their hair and having to shave it off was beyond difficult. It was a security blanket of who they identified themselves. Those beauty standards we have with hair, are making it even harder because people without questioning assume that if you’re bald, you have cancer. And most times they just don’t want to be identified by this. Because they are so much more than cancer. 

Reshaping the word “beauty”

 So I’m curious, how did we get here? In a point where beauty is defined by looks when all that really matters is how we act and where our heart stands. Isn’t it more important how we react to different situations, how we treat others, how we see the world, or how we work to make it better? The passion in someones’ eyes, the smile after helping someone in need, the will to change for the better. 

 Beauty shouldn’t be measured in looks. We should feel no fear to show our true selves. No matter if it’s related to a health condition, preference, or whatever else.

Alma Zois – Fighting cancer through hair donation programs and Digital Greece Race for the Cure® 2021

I’m more than happy to collaborate with the organization Alma Zois, Hellenic Association of Women with Breast Cancer. Although I wasn’t able to donate my hair due to bleach, they informed me of the procedure and I’m glad to share it in this article. Alongside information about the Race for the Cure® 2021.


Paraskevi Mihalopoulou, President of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Association of Women with Breast Cancer “Alma Zois” published a statement saying:

“In the Hellenic Association of Women with Breast Cancer ‘Alma Zois’ we are all very proud of the implementation of the hair donation program. Through the program we manage to support and give strength to women who are experiencing a very difficult and critical period in their lives. Furthermore, over the years, we have managed to persuade people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved, to give strength to the ones who need it most and display solidarity.  Ponytails’ offers all these years are massive and we have already collected more than 66.700 braids. But the most important and most touching of all is the major participation of children and young people and their eagerness to cut their hair and donate it”.

More info about “Donate strength” hair donation program:

Hellenic Association of Women with Breast Cancer “Alma Zois”, in collaboration with PANTENE and AB Vassilopoulos, carry out for the 7th year “Donate Strength” hair donation program to provide wigs to women undergoing chemotherapy.

The association takes time to explain its hair donation mechanism to the participants. The hair collected is promoted to a wig manufacturer, weighed and its value is calculated. With the equivalent value of the sent hair, “Alma Zois” subsidizes wig purchase with socio-economics criteria for women undergoing chemotherapy. The more braids gathered, the more women will be able to get their wig for free.

That’s why your participation is so important!

How can I donate strength?

You can cut your hair in the hair salon of your choice!

Hair donation’s Specifications:

•          Hair longer than 20 cm

•          No chemical treatment

•          White hairs should be less than 5%

•          If your hair is curly, please straighten before the haircut, so that to count the length properly

•          Hair should be completely dry without any styling products

  1. Free pick up:

For your convenience, “Donate Strength” program provides the possibility of free prepaid shipping for your donation.

•          Once you have cut and packed your hair, you can fill the online form.

•          Prepaid carrier will pick up your hair from the address you have stated on the form within 15 working days.

•          The carrier will visit the pickup address without prior notice.

•          By submitting the form, you will receive a thank you letter in your email.

  1. By mail:

Alternatively, you can send your hair donation by mail at “Alma Zois” headquarters:

“Alma Zois”,Hellenic Association of Women with Breast Cancer

Ipirou,11

P.C. 10433 Athens

3rd Floor

In case of sending your hair by post mail, registered mail is not required.

In case of sending your hair by courier, our Secretariat’s operation hours are Monday to Friday 9 am – 5 pm.

More info about the program: https://almazois.gr/harise-dynami/


Digital Greece Race for the Cure® 2021:

Greece Race for the Cure® is a running event against breast cancer, organized in Athens by Hellenic Association of Women with Breast Cancer “Alma Zois”. Is one of the most popular Races for breast cancer awareness worldwide and the largest sports event with a social purpose in Greece. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the realization of Greece Race for the Cure ® as a popular celebrating event with a large scale participation is not feasible. That is why our race joined forces with all the European races for the cure and got digital!

We invite everyone in Europe to participate in the digital Race for the Cure® and throw a lifeline to help breast cancer patients, healthcare workers and hospitals by collecting funds and raising awareness.

This year, Greece Race for the Cure® is held 1,2 & 3 October 2021, digitally!

Ways to join the Race:

Wherever you are in the world, you can walk, run or donate and support our cause against breast cancer.

More info – Registrations: https://greecerace.gr/en/


Keep an eye on our social media on those dates since the Balkan Hotspot team is definitely joining the Race for the Cure®.

Post Author: Carol Valjaots

Tere! My name is Carol and I’m from Estonia. I’m in charge of video- and photography in Balkan Hotspot. This is my first experience with video so I’m very excited to learn more from other volunteers. I enjoy singing - karaokes are my favorite, painting - all of my denim jackets have different artworks and photography - I would climb anywhere to get an amazing picture.

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