By Jane Stebbins

Pilot staff writer

For almost a year, 9-year-old Luke Christensen has put up with taunts and jeers.

Kids have been calling him a hippy. A sales clerk where he went to pick out a bicycle for his birthday kept trying to direct him toward the girl's bike section. Worse, even his brothers have been calling him a girl. All because his hair flows well beyond his shoulders.

"It's brutal," said his mother, Colleen. "Going to the doctor, to

school, the restaurants. ... Our society. ... But he just takes it."


taunting came to an end Friday when, with about six snips of the

scissors, 10 inches of his dirty-blond hair was handed to him in a


Christensen beamed as he held it at arm's length. He smiled as Tangle's Salon's Teresa VanGinderen buzzed his head with the clippers. And he laughed when he looked at his reflection in the mirror.

"I have a lot of freckles on my forehead," he proclaimed. "I never noticed it."

Christensen grew his hair out for Locks of Love, a nonprofit agency that makes wigs for children who have lost their hair to any medical diagnosis, thus restoring their sense of confidence and self-esteem.

"My hair was really long, and my brother said, 'There's some kids with cancer and you can donate your hair for kids,'" Luke said. "It was 5 inches long. Now it's 10."

Well, now, it's about a half-inch.

"You can't mistake him for a girl now," Colleen said.