~ S P E C I A L ~ F E A T U R E ~

Bald Is A Look You Can Live With

An excerpt from the new book Turning Heads

Portraits of Grace, Inspiration, and Possibilities

Edited by Jackson S. Hunsicker


Turning Heads is a collection of powerful photographs of beautiful, bald women. They are bald because they have cancer. They are beautiful because they have been buffed by stylists and captured by some of the best photographers in the world -- four Pulitzer Prize winners among them. And they are powerful because they no longer hide their cancer -- or hide behind it.

Many women diagnosed with cancer fear losing their hair more than losing their lives. This fear can prevent them from getting proper treatment. When they do get treatment, hair loss adds insult to injury and can lead to seriously lowered self-esteem.

The standard reaction is to cover up with a wig or scarf, or stop going out -- to let cancer disrupt your routine and define your identity. "Women shouldn't be ashamed of the way they look. They shouldn't want to hide," says editor Jackson Hunsicker, who spent five years assembling these inspiring images. "They should be seen for who they are -- brides, teachers, mothers, lawyers.... The fact that they don't have any hair only means that they are on their way to coming back stronger. Turning Heads shows everyone that bald is a look you can live with."

The excerpt below features a photograph by film producer and children's book author Patricia Ruben. More information about the book, Turning Heads, and editor Jackson Hunsicker follows the excerpt. Thanks for looking.

Bald Is A Look You Can Live With

Heike Kuenzer

Model: Heike Kuenzer, age 37, textile engineer
Location: Richard Shelton's art class, Marina del Rey, CA

"There is an art class that I take on Saturdays that's special to me. Some of us in the class have become very close. We have the same interests in art so we go out to galleries together. They're the kind of friends who are there for you when you need things; the kind you keep all your life. So when the doctor asked me what day I wanted to have treatment, I chose Monday because I knew by the time Saturday rolled around, I'd feel well enough to go to class. That was my goal, to keep going to class and be with my friends and my art. I wanted something beyond work and beyond being sick and I met the goal. I didn't miss a single class.

"Does cancer make you nicer? I've met only nice women during this whole thing. I mean everybody I've met was unusually nice. I started wondering why all the nice women get cancer and all those bitches in department stores don't. It's true. You've never thought of that?"

Photographer: Patricia Ruben

Patricia Ruben, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been a stage actress, a casting director, a published photographer, an author of several children's books and a film producer who produced the complete Cannon Films Fairy Tale Series that starred such notables as Helen Hunt, Isabella Rossellini, Amy Irving and Christopher Walken.

In the 1980s, Ruben became Vice President of Paramount Pictures. In the 1990s, she took on another challenge and is now a leading real estate representative at Sotheby's in Los Angeles. Her generosity and support were invaluable in the creation of the Turning Heads book.

"Jackson [Hunsicker] is one of my best friends so I've been able to observe or hear what happened with the women and what happened with their lives both before and after they were photographed.

"The side effects of chemotherapy make it impossible to hide the fact that you're going through cancer treatment. Even if you're wearing a wig, there are still telltale signs. Most people don't know how to react when they see you. They have been taught not to stare so they look away. The longer the treatment goes on, the more the woman becomes used to feeling invisible.

"Turning Heads runs interference with that. Suddenly you are not a non-person anymore. You are asked to be a model. There's collaboration with the photographer, a shooting schedule, makeup, wardrobe, assistants, props. You are the center of attention. Slowly you begin to see yourself through their eyes. You begin to remember who you were before you got sick and you realize that you've been transformed into someone even better. You are a work of art. It's an astounding transformation. The before and after. Women walk away from the experience actually looking like different people.

"Children shouldn't be taught not to stare. They should be taught to give extra care when someone is going through something difficult."

About the Book

Turning Heads

Portraits of Grace, Inspiration, and Possibilities

Edited by Jackson S. Hunsicker
Published by Press On Regardless
ISBN 0977007405, 144 oversize pages, paperback, $29.95
Available through this site or directly from the publisher:

"[T]his collection of gorgeous and inspiring photographs of women who've become bald from chemotherapy...is powerful medicine, and not just for women undergoing cancer treatment."
-- Publishers Weekly

"If we can inspire anyone, I say, great -- go ahead, be bald, it's sexy."
-- Melissa Etheridge, singer, songwriter, survivor

Hats and head scarves are nowhere to be seen in these portraits of women who have lost their hair during treatment for cancer. Each picture, taken by a well-known photographer, captures bald women too intent on work or play to be bashful about their looks.

Melissa Etheridge belts out a Janis Joplin tune at the 2005 Grammys, a rodeo cowgirl poses with the cowboys, a surfer climbs a wave in Hawaii, and a nun scrutinizes her poker hand.

A foreword and afterword by the author describe the genesis of the book, her own experience with cancer and hair loss, and the brave women who posed for pictures.

The photographers include Eddie Adams, Debbie Fleming Caffery, Reuben Cox, Rob Gauthier, Lauren Greenfield, David Hume Kennerly, Antonin Kratchovil, Harry Langdon, Gerd Ludwig, Jay Maisel, Catherine Opie, Harvey Stein, Nick Vedros, and Annie Wells.

About the Author

Jackson S. Hunsicker

Jackson Hunsicker worked for the Associated Press; was instrumental in starting up Over Easy, a PBS-CPB magazine show starring Hugh Downs; and has written and directed two children's films, The Frog Prince starring Helen Hunt and Oddball Hall with Burgess Meredith and Don Ameche. She lives in Los Angeles.

Copyright 2006 by Jackson Hunsicker. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to duplicate or distribute this file as long as the contents are not changed and this copyright notice is intact.