loading
drag

Four Australian women reveal what experiencing hair loss has taught them

IMAGE VIA @HAIRSGONEBABYGONE/INSTAGRAM
WORDS BY GEORGIE KIBEL

“My femininity isn’t tied to my hair.”

For many womxn, hair is an intrinsic part of their self-image. Time, money and effort is dedicated towards ensuring our hair is looking and feeling healthy and is styled in a certain way. Just think, for a moment, about how often you hear a womxn lamenting her “bad hair day”, and you’ll start to get a feel for how entangled hair and our identities can be. 

Due to the high value that our society places on hair, losing it is, by most accounts, a traumatic experience. It can result in a questioning of identity, and extreme feelings of loss and shame. Female pattern baldness, medically termed alopecia, can impact any womxn, at any age. While hair loss can be a result of medical treatment such as chemotherapy, it can also be a random genetic occurence. 

But despite the obvious distress and trauma that experiencing hair loss can cause, womxn often find themselves developing a new understanding of self post-hair loss. I asked four women who have experienced hair loss what they gained from their experiences.

Shay Burns, 37, marketing consultant 

“I developed alopecia universalis when I was 18 months old, and I’ve never had regrowth. It’s taught me that confidence is a work in progress. I’ve now had alopecia for more than 35 years and 99 per cent of the time, I don’t wear a wig. But even I have days when being bald makes me feel sad, resentful or unattractive. 

“We’re bombarded with images of what it means to be ‘beautiful’, ‘feminine’ and ‘sexy’, and looking differently – whether because of your race, age, size, and even your hairstyle – has an impact on self-esteem. The movement for diversity in beauty standards is doing a fantastic job at helping to normalise different definitions of beauty, but as individuals, we also have a job to do, which is to be kind to ourselves. Some days are tough, and on other days you may feel fucking fabulous. Just remember that getting to a place of comfort and confidence is a journey for all of us.”

@hairsgonebabygone

Kellie Scott, 35, journalist

View this post on Instagram

Having access to realistic alternative hair is something I am so grateful for. Wigs help me to not feel self-conscious about my appearance. Not everyone has good pieces available to them, whether because it's financially out of reach or for other reasons. I strive to help women with hair loss feel confident, but I know part of that confidence picture I paint includes wearing human hair. And I can't say for sure I'd be so "healed" from the pain of hair loss without it. So, tag in the comments the hair loss babes you follow who don't always wear alternative hair and make you feel inspired 👇 I'll start… @kyliebamberger and @christie.valdiserri spring to mind! . . . #hairloss #thinhair #alopecia #androgenicalopecia #femalepatternhairloss #wigs #lacewigs #baldness #beforeandafter

A post shared by Kellie (@hairlossboss) on

“I first noticed my hair thinning at age 27. It took a few years to figure out it was androgenic alopecia (also known as female pattern hair loss). I’ve lost about 70 per cent of my hair. It seems to have stopped at that point, but anything can happen as time progresses and hormones change. One thing I know for sure is it won’t grow back. Losing my hair helped me realise I have an ability to adapt to change and stay optimistic in tough times.

“I spent a lot of time stressing about my hair loss, but once I discovered toppers and wigs, it set me free. But it’s not like that fell into my lap. I worked hard to find a solution that suited me. Alternative hair gave me a feeling of security that it didn’t matter what happened to my natural hair from that point on. I also learned my femininity isn’t tied to my hair.”

@hairlossboss 


Aoife Jane, 30, customer support social lead 

“I have androgenetic alopecia and PCOS which contributes to my form of hair loss. I used to have gorgeous hair as a child but as I grew into my teens, it became quite fine. I remember the first time someone pointed it out to me, by a boy, in a mocking way, and that’s when I really started to inspect and obsess over my hair. As someone who already struggled with acne, my confidence wasn’t high to begin with. When my hair began to fall out, I was so distressed and would have panic attacks every time I washed it, tried to style it for a night out or even just looked at it wet. For years, my hair loss controlled me, causing crippling anxiety and panic attacks. It shattered my self-confidence and stripped me of any sense of femininity.

“They really were the darkest days of my life. Public outings caused such anxiety, if there was any hint of wind or rain I would not want to go or be on edge constantly in case a strand of hair moved from my heavily backcombed head, and in Ireland, it’s basically always windy and raining. It can be hard to think about those dark days and how I would speak about myself, to myself – the self-loathing – but I also feel so incredibly proud of myself for finding the strength to accept my hair loss and use it to drive me to help others.”

@aweirdheff


Taylah Miranda, 20, student

“I’ve experienced hair loss twice, both due to chemotherapy to treat leukemia. The first time was when I was 14, the second, more recently, at 20. Unlike many patients undergoing chemotherapy who lose their hair within the first few weeks of treatment, my hair loss both times was more gradual (it took about five months to lose all my hair).

“What I learnt from this experience is how important my hair is to my identity – it is a part of me, and when I lost my hair, I felt like I was losing part of myself. Despite losing a lot of confidence and gaining insecurity, losing my hair taught me that beauty is really on the inside and to value and pride myself on my inner qualities. Losing my hair taught me a different kind of confidence.”

Lazy Loading