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Megan Alatini’s close shave

Ex-True Bliss star Megan latini reveals her good deed for child cancer.

Running her hand over her fuzzy scalp, Megan Alatini is all smiles. She could have been wearing her hair super-short for years. With a delicate swan-like neck, big eyes and glamorous red lips, she has the perfect features for the bold look.

But shaving her locks wasn’t an easy choice for the 35-year-old singer and TV presenter. Her hair has been something of a trademark during her career, from the braids she wore in pop group True Bliss to the extensions she was sporting until recently.

As she approached the razor to have it all shaved off as part of Steve Price’s Night of Courage at Auckland’s Alexandra Park, Megan admitted to some nerves, despite husband Pita standing by her side. “My tummy is churning. I’m so nervous but in a really strange way. I’m very excited.”

Megan says she would never have even contemplated such an extreme haircut before she was approached to do it for charity. Four celebrities and three fathers of children affected by cancer raised $110,000 to launch Child Cancer Appeal Month. Rugby league star Steve has been involved for several years but the country’s female stars had up until now been reluctant to put their hair on the line.

Steve’s manager is Megan’s best friend’s partner – so she was top of his list when it was decided 2012 would be the year to get a woman involved. Megan, who arrived back in New Zealand two months ago after a three-year stint with her family in Japan, remembers being at her home in Kamaishi when she got the text from her friend.

“She said, ‘Would you ever shave your head?’” Megan recalls. “I said, ‘No way.’ She then said, ‘Would you do it for child cancer?’ I thought about it for five minutes then said, ‘Well, yes. Probably.’ She said, ‘We’ll be in touch.’”

It took three or four weeks for Megan to get her head around the idea. “But once I got to know what children with cancer go through, it was easy.” And after a brush with disaster in the Japanese tsunami last year, Megan says it’s good to be able to do something for people in New Zealand.

“Our home in Japan was fine but it was terrifying. It was pure luck we weren’t in the centre of town when the water hit. Being part of the rebuild was healing. We did a year of charity work in Japan, then thought charity should start at home.” And since agreeing to be part of the child cancer fundraiser, she’s realised how close to home the cause is.

In Auckland she ran into a friend with whom she’d lost touch while she was in Japan. She inquired after the woman’s daughter and was told she had passed away after suffering from cancer. “I didn’t realise we had such close connections with it. They sent a photo of their daughter [on the night of the shave] and said, ‘If she can look this good with a shaved head, so can you.’

She was the same age as my daughter, Tiara. It made me realise you never know when something like that is going to come your way.” Megan says as a mother – she has daughters Tonica (17) and Tiara (9) and son Trey (7) – the child cancer cause resonates with her. “Being a parent, you can’t help but be affected.”

The response to the haircut has been so positive Megan thinks she might keep her short hair longer than expected. “It’s made me feel more confident. It’s made me think I can carry this off a bit longer than I thought.”

It has meant changes, though. Gels and hairsprays have had to come out of her handbag and the hair tie she still wears around her wrist is now there purely out of habit. “I’ve always been a long-hair girl,” Megan admits.

But she says it’s good to be able to show kids who have lost their hair that it’s not necessarily a bad thing. “People are fearful of the no-hair look. I want to find a way to make it feel comfortable and tell kids, ‘Let’s make this something to be proud of.’”

Her example also proved inspiring on the night. Although only seven people were originally scheduled to have their heads shaved – Megan, Steve Price, All Black Jerome Kaino, radio host D’Arcy Waldegrave and three fathers – others put their hands up to go under the razor, including one woman with long, blonde hair.

Megan says she has no regrets. “It’s a weird sensation, but so liberating. Especially when you’re doing it for a good cause.”

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