’I hate my hair’…how many times have you heard that from someone with a beautiful head of hair? Yes, I admit that over the years I have uttered those words.
We really do identify ourselves by our hair. Why is that? We look in the mirror every day and see that crowning glory, we wash it, dry it , have it cut and I don’t think there is a woman alive who does not love being pampered at the hairdresser’s. It is intrinsically tied up in who we think and feel that we are as a woman.
Today I an truly grateful and appreciative for my strong, vibrant, thick, healthy and fast growing hair.
My last blog post was about the ‘going grey taboo’…that was assuming you had hair to go grey. I was comparing the’ going grey naturally’ to ‘opting for colour’. There were a lot of responses and each person had definite and valid reasons for their choices.
On the other side of the coin there are some things we speak about and some that we don’t because of shame, fear and ridicule. STOP! and take a moment to consider – what it would be like if YOU lost all YOUR hair – to suddenly become bald?
Well let’s talk about it now! In fact let’s hear it from two ladies who have alopecia.
WHAT IF YOU HAD ALOPECIA?
- How would you feel?
- How would you respond?
- How would your life we different?
I have a dear friend Pat who has alopecia and she has shared information with me and has given me permission to use her photo – with and without hair.
And I am not talking just about the head hair. I mean every hair on the body, face, legs (OK that could be a plus), genital, eyebrows and eyelashes…could you imagine it!
Alopecia is a subject swept under the carpet and not talked about, I knew Pat for some years before knowing her story…I used to think her hair never looked any different, when does she have it cut???? Considering I am like a ‘fluffy duck’ if I go over five weeks between hair trims.
I have watched Pat grow in confidence in herself and in talking about alopecia and I am in awe of her ability to manage and now speak about it. Yes, we are in Toastmaster’s together and she gave a fantastic speech with a vivid visual of a woman with shoulder length hair. As her story progressed, the realisation hit that this was her story. She demonstrated how the clumps came out and you saw her lose her hair on the visual as she had done personally. Her conclusion saw us looking at a bald woman…her naked truth! Very powerful.
PAT’S 7 FACTS ABOUT ALOPECIA
1. It’s not terribly common or life threatening so it is not something people publicly rally around.
2. For women particularly, and younger men who have alopecia there seems to be an element of being ashamed of our looks, that we won’t attract a partner or if we already have a partner there is a chance they won’t accept us bald…and this has happened to some. The old adage “hair is a crowning glory” still holds true in society.
3. There’s also a perception that we have stressed ourselves which has caused it and which somehow puts us to blame. That in turn tends to make us feel guilty, even ashamed of our looks.
4. Although we have tried many treatments, some of which work for some people but not for others, there is a sense of failure when these treatments don’t work, not for the treatment itself but for how our bodies haven’t responded to it.
5. There is also a sense of being fake when we wear a wig, and some alopecians refuse to wear one for that reason. Others like myself wear wigs because we want to blend into society not stand out and because of that tend to keep it private.
6. There is also a lot of grief losing one’s hair as we become unrecognisable to ourselves. This is especially true if we lose our eyelashes and eyebrows as we suddenly look alien.
7 It is an auto-immune disease. They’re not sure what causes an auto immune disorder. Some say that stress lowers your immune system therefore you’re more susceptible to a virus running amok and taking over…but many people who have it weren’t under any stress at the time so there’s no real answer to it. Also very young children get it, some at a few months old so doesn’t seem probable that stress is the only cause. Maybe it’s one of many, there’s really no answer.
A TED TALK BY MICHELLE
I have attached a TED talk by a Brisbane woman Michelle Law where she shares her story about having alopecia. You may like to take a few minutes (11mins actually) to hear how she has learned to live ( not cope or survive) – TO LIVE.
To summarise 3 points from Pat and Michelle
- It’s an auto immune disease and therefore difficult to treat.
- It’s also very unpredictable, and can come and go without warning.
- Coming to an acceptance is the key to coping but for me that took some years, others handle it better, others don’t handle it at all.
- Know your worth
- Embrace baldness
- Be visible
WHAT DO I THINK?
Life continually throws us curly challenges (no pun intended). What I have learned is to embrace who I am, to accept others for who they are and to live with a confident and vibrant life softened by compassion and caring.
For the girls with hair fabulous, love it, enjoy it and experiment with it. And always show your respect and care for those who are learning to live without their hair.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I would love to hear your stories of the hairy or the hairless… let’s bring it out on the open and discuss it.