Bald for Bieber

Internet assholes managed attempted to trick gullible young fans of Justin Bieber into believing the pop idol had cancer. Teens were asked to shave their heads as a gesture of support, and posted those photos online with the hashtag #baldforbieber. Word to the wise: I have cancer and treatment made me lose all my hair, and can tell you that shaving your head doesn't really help a stranger with cancer get any better, unless you're donating your hair to them for a chemo wig or something. (Thanks, Sean!)


  1. But don’t the LOLs help you feel better?  I remember the ‘zits’ cartoon where Jeremy and friend shaved their heads because another friend’s mom had cancer.  She laughed so hard at them, it was wonderful.  Now I admit I don’t have cancer, none of my family has had cancer causing hair loss from chemo… but I figure the LOLs are worth it.  Plus, hair grows back… so it’s not the end of the world for those kids.

    1. It bothers me more that it is possible we are raising another generation of… well it was on the internet it must be true.

  2. Sorry, but no.  Those pictures are just ‘shopped images from the ‘net.  While 4Chan attempted to convince people that Bieber had cancer and that there was a movement to shave heads in support for him, there’s no evidence that anyone fell for it, at least enough to shave their heads.

    For example, you can see the original image in the upper-right corner here: (scroll down, it’s down there)

  3. This was on reddit yesterday and the highest comment was that this was the origination of the hoax but that it never caught on.  They photoshopped the signs on to screencaps of girls with shaved heads.

  4. On the “shaving your head to ‘help’ cancer patients” issue, I’m never sure what actions will be interpreted as solidarity, and which will be interpreted as pandering, or some misguided and vaguely insulting attempt to “feel your pain”. I suppose there is a lot of person to person variation and you just have to use your gut.

    Xeni, I suspect from her writing, doesn’t respond to sappy displays. On the other hand, a friend’s father was diagnosed with cancer and before he started treatment the whole family got mohawks together (and dyed his purple). That was pretty cool, and it seemed that everyone involved found it to be a positive experience.

    1. It’s pretty cool if someone you love does it with you, and it’s a personal thing among people who love each other and feel like it means something together.

    2. A continuing gripe of my (now healthy and cancer free) mother is that everyone else seems to think that pink whatevers are automatically appreciated. “I got you this pink pen! It’s exactly like every other stupid pen, but this one panders to you!” She’s never liked pink, but that doesn’t stop people.

  5. If this was real, which it doesn’t seem to be, I can’t help but think that anyone who was that gullible might have learned a valuable life lesson about verifying sources of information.

  6. This is just a rehash of the chick fil a crap from this summer and the annual ‘buy everything pink’ marketing messages.  That is, a superficial act masquerading as taking real action (though I’d argue the ones I noted up are worse than this since they’re consumptionism in a ‘taking a stance’ wrapper)

      1. You’re right–it is the least you can do…nearly effortless and providing almost no benefits to the purported end beneficiaries.
        Or, you know, you could donate directly to research foundations, testing clinics, and health education groups instead of giving a bloated overhead for the privilege of Target’s and Komen’s ability to sell you a pink shirt with a ribbon logo on it.

  7. Serious question – you’re always posting and tweeting about things not to do, not to say, etc. when someone you know has cancer. Now something I thought that people did earnestly and was cool to do, shaving your head, is more of a “meh” move? I know it doesn’t help anyone, but does it hurt? More to the point, I would really love to see a post that has like a … I dunno, top 10 cool things I would have liked my friends or random acquaintances to do during my treatment.
    I’ve learned a lot following your story as you’ve told it, I don’t want to pander to people with cancer, I certainly have come to abhor the pink nausea, and I don’t want to offend, but I would hope, for example, someone shaving their head to “support” someone with cancer is at least well-intentioned, no one’s making money off of it like the pink shit. Can we get a guide for people who are well-intentioned, of things we ought not to do in general and things we really ought to do, things that will really support as opposed to just give the superficial illusion of?This is a serious question, not a complaint. I really want to know the good positive things we can do that actively help someone going through this stuff, the things we might not know without someone like you telling us directly. Thanks!

    1. Encourage them to find a good Chi Kung practitioner and practice it, if they’re well enough? That was the only helpful thing I could do for a friend of mine with cancer. He said it helped him tons with his day-to-day energy and sense of vitality…

    2. Ask if there’s anything that you can do to help. A ride to the doctor’s office is more useful than solidarity.

    3. Rides to places. Can’t say that one enough.

      Make food, though check first to see what they like/feel up to eating. When I first got sick, a lot of people came by with food—which was great, except that most things made me nauseous.

      Housework and chores. My neighbour takes my garbage down every week because I can’t lift it. If she didn’t, I’d be completely screwed.

      Help with pets/children. 

      Advocate. It’s exhausting to deal with medical professionals and bureaucrats at the best of times; when you’re sick, it’s impossible. 

      Be the person who gets them safely to and from places. This is a huge one for me, since quite often I’ll want to go out and I’ll start feeling okay only to have it change. I’m also incredibly brittle, so having someone to be a bodyguard in crowds is really useful.

      Be an activist for accessibility. It’s hard enough going about my daily life. But when the escalator and elevator on the subway are broken (or there isn’t one at all), it can be the difference between an okay day and a horrible day. In the last stages of my dad’s cancer, he was in a wheelchair and we struggled to find accessible places to eat and experience culture. Yes, this is a long fight, but it’s an important one and not one that sick and disabled people are in the best position to carry out ourselves.

    4. One helpful little detail that surprised me: getting phone calls from friends saying “I’m at XYZ store….do you need anything?”.  Amazing how much that can help, some days.

  8. When my then 5yo son lost his hair during Lekimia* treatment, I asked him if he would feel better if I shaved my head too. He said, “no dad, you’re bald enough…”

    I think it helps children more than adults and young girls more than boys. It helps by diluting the “that kid looks funny” that people, especially strangers, give them.

    * I pledged to never spell the disease correctly and continue to not to this day. Except google sometimes fixes it for me when doing research online.

  9. Why “Internet assholes”? They’re using the Internet perhaps, but that doesn’t make them belong to the Internet any more than a road rager is a “highway asshole.” Aren’t they simply assholes?

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