There She Is ... and Hair, It Goes
All right, America. You finally have your bald beauty queen.
Three months after she retired her tiara, former Miss Virginia Tara Wheeler put her scalp to the razor Monday night, fulfilling a pledge she made in a fundraising bid for a children's cancer charity.
And no quiet little outpatient salon procedure for pageant royalty: Wheeler shed her glossy brown locks at a beer-fueled, media-mobbed gathering at Crystal City Sports Pub, hosted by the St. Baldrick's Foundation. The Arlington native was headliner of a five-head shave-a-thon. (D.C. United's Devon McTavish and Wheeler's brother Brandon were among those who gave up their crowning glories as opening acts.)
Yes, she cried a bit in the morning, she told us, washing her hair for the last time (until it grows back, anyway). And she cried again before the cameras and fans Monday night, talking about the young cancer survivors who'd inspired her.
Wheeler pledged last spring to shave her head if she could raise $500,000 -- a stupendously high goal, but that was the price that state and national pageant folks demanded in exchange for a bald Miss Virginia.
When it became clear she wouldn't come close to her fundraising goal -- despite a flood of national attention, Wheeler maxed out just above $30,000 -- she promised to shave as soon as she no longer wore the crown.
"Get ready to stubble!" shouted the MC. Wheeler took her seat and donned a smock. Her damp eyes glistened, but her pageant smile was huge. Her mother and two other women braided her hair into big clumps, suitable for chopping and donating to Wigs for Kids. And then, the razor. ... Let it be noted for the record that Wheeler has a perfectly shaped skull.
A fan donated a wig, but Wheeler is not planning to wear it unless absolutely necessary for her new job, as a Redskins fan reporter for Comcast SportsNet.
"If my hair is distracting as it grows out, I'm grateful for the opportunity to wear it," she told us -- but otherwise, she plans to rock it Mr. Clean style.
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