Alyson Weissman, shaving for Jared. ©Ali Smith
Allison Smith, shaving for Jackson. © Ali Smith
by Ali Smith
A mother stands in front of my camera. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” she says anxiously, so she smiles stiffly, as you might in a school picture. “Just be yourself,” I encourage. When she leaves my makeshift studio, set up at the Prudential Center in Boston for the occasion, I feel I’ve failed. The images reveal nothing about how she was feeling. Instead, I’ve taken a smiling portrait of a woman with no indication that she was about to undergo a serious, emotional transformation.
Kris Doyle, shaving for William. © Ali Smith
Lisa Giguere, shaving for Hailey. © Ali Smith
Audra Wilford, shaving for Max. ©Ali Smith
Lisa Sanders, shaving for Rayley. @ Ali Smith
On Monday this mother will return home, where she will stand out in her office, at her local restaurant, at her kid’s playground, as “the bald mom.” Wherever she comes from, that will take some nerve. And it will, by design, inspire questions.
April Hawks, shaving for Spencer. ©Ali Smith
Sarah Betz Bucciero, shaving for Carter. © Ali Smith
Carina Shaw, shaving for Conlan. © Ali Smith
Nicole McPherson, shaving for Eleanor. © Ali Smith
Each weekday, an average of 46 American families receive the unenviable news that their child has some form of cancer. At this event, part of the fifth annual Shave for the Brave Campaign organized by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, mothers of children affected by cancer shaved their heads in solidarity with their children to help raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer research as part of the 46Mommas team.
Allison Smith, shaving for Jackson. ©Ali Smith
YvetteVelez Rivera, shaving for Nayelis.© Ali Smith
Leslie Woodstock Jermainne, shaving for Brian. ©Ali Smith
Linda Berthelet, shaving for Alyssa. ©Ali Smith
I took their pictures, before and after, a record of what was lost, and what was gained.
Nicole Blakely, shaving for Layla. © Ali Smith
Originally published in the New York Times’ Motherlode column.
To find out about Ali’s Award-Winning book Momma Love, visit MommaLovetheBook.com @mommaloveAli on Twitter and Instagram Momma Love The Book on FB. See more of Ali’s work at alismith.com and altpick.com/alismith
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