March 7, 2014 at 12:12 PM ET
Three-year-old Emily James’ favorite princess is Rapunzel. Born with a full head of golden brown hair, which continued to grow and grow, Emily loved her locks as much as she loves sparkly dresses and all things girly.
But in a recent video that has gone viral, Emily shows her real princess powers of compassion and kindness. With encouragement from her parents, Emily decided to cut her hair and donate it to those in need — children who lose their hair to cancer.
Emily’s parents, Amy and Richard James, are filmmakers who live in Ontario, Canada, with their three children. When it became clear that Emily’s long hair was becoming impractical to care for, Amy James recalled her own decision in high school to donate her hair to an organization that made wigs for cancer patients.
James and her husband sat down with Emily and explained that some children are sick, and lose their hair as a result. Explaining that her haircut would have to be very short, James says they showed Emily pictures of children with cancer and talked about treatment, hair loss and the need for wigs.
Emily’s response? She was in — as long as her Rapunzel dolly could get a haircut, too.
Emily’s uncle, Matthew Collins, who co-owns a hair studio, cut Emily’s hair. In the video, Collins cuts and styles both Emily and her doll’s hair into stylish bobs, while Emily sweetly narrates the process
“I don’t want any kids to be sad that they have no hair,” she says. “What I want to do is give them my hair.”
James and her family have been “blown away” by the response that their video has received in the week since she posted it.
“We hope to instill an attitude of giving to all of our kids,” said James. “We want them to realize that everything we have is a blessing from God and it’s really important to give to others when we can.”
In the days since Emily’s haircut, James says that both she and her daughter are enjoying the ease of the shorter, simpler style. The six inches of hair Emily donated were sent to the Canadian Cancer Society, where it will be used to create a free wig for a pediatric cancer patient. James says she chose the organization for many reasons, one of which was that Emily would receive a thank-you note from the person who receives her donated hair.
“What we are most proud of as her parents is that Emily has accepted an opportunity to give what she had a lot of to others who could use it more,” said James. “Emily brings so much joy into our lives. She is spunky, rambunctious and keeps us laughing. We love that others are finding joy in her little spirit.”