This is probably going to be the most vulnerable I have ever been. I am about to talk about the one thing I absolutely HATE talking about. My hair. But I want that to change. So I am starting here and starting now. My whole story, journey, discovery; whatever you want to call it, is way too much to discuss in one post…so I am going to break this one up and create a series on hair, female hair loss, postpartum hair loss and female pattern baldness. I think it’s time more of us get candid and more open about it. So this is it. This is where we will start. At my very start.
Female pattern baldness affects over 50% of women in varying degrees. It can start as early as your teens or as late as your forties. There isn’t a lot of or enough public discussions out there about female pattern baldness and there are many reasons why. Some being that it’s a more diffused hair loss in women, in most cases, and so it seems less drastic than male pattern baldness. Also, it can be very hard for women to discuss the issue of Hair loss and therefore fewer women are inclined to talk about it publicly. I was one of these women. I was a girl with thin, see-through, diffused female pattern baldness and it took years to figure it out.
My story. The Start.
I remember being 22 and out with my friends on a patio on a sunny afternoon. My girlfriend m, who was a hairdresser at the time, leaned over to me and whispered: “Whoa Dee, your hair is really thinning on top, I can totally see your scalp in the sun.”
That was it.
I never really thought about it until that very moment. Little did I realize that That moment would change my life forever. I remember clear as day what happened next. I got up from the table, headed straight for the terribly lit fluorescent bathroom and examined my head of thinning hair in the mirror. She was right. I stood in the bathroom for a long time. Clearly, my girlfriend caught on that I had been missing (and knew I was freaking out) and 20 minutes later she was knocking on the bathroom door. When I let her in, I cried in her arms. How could this be happening? I am only 22.
So here’s where I share a little more than I want to admit. Look, I was a shitty eater and I was stressed. At this point in my life, I was obviously very vein. Who isn’t at 22? Let’s be honest. A couple years earlier I had made the stupid mistake to give up hockey, forgo a scholarship opportunity (more than one), quit eating healthy and workout like a crazy girl. All in the name of looking good, being thin, dressing my best, dating boys and partying like a rockstar in Montreal. I was finishing up my Bachelor’s Degree, working 25 hours at a bank and another 20 hours at a preschool. I spent endless hours up late at night studying, working out, living off coffee and hanging with my crew. I was barely surviving and I was stressed out. Naturally, I blamed my hair loss on this. I was convinced I was creating this problem for myself. Little did I know that yes this probably wasn’t helping my hair, but it wasn’t the real reason.
They always say you want what you don’t have. All I wanted was beautiful long thick locks of hair.
In the early two-thousands, the internet and the dial-up situation was nothing like the internet today. I had no way to research this problem I was having, I had no money to spend on seeing a hair specialist, and honestly, I just didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. I thought it was stress and figured it would resolve itself. My girlfriend who was a hairdresser did the best she could do to highlight, layer and make my hair look semi-normal. To most people around me…my hair just looked dull and boring but little did they know that I was suffering in silence. Every time I washed my hair and I would have strands falling out…I would sit curled up on the shower floor bawling my eyes out. I would try to put my hair up in a ponytail, but the elastic was so big and my ponytail was a pitiful little thing.
I know…I know…many of you are maybe thinking; big deal it’s your hair. Uhm? Yes, it was and is a big deal! It’s my hair!!!! My hair people. It sent me on an emotional rollercoaster. Let’s be honest it’s not accepted in our society for women to lose their hair, so when you do, it crushes you, you become obsessive about it and you can’t sleep at night; at least I couldn’t. I would find myself sitting on my bathroom counter with a hand-held mirror and my light above my head staring at my scalp, flipping my hair from side to side, checking it from the back and then the frront…crying. crying. crying. Broken. night after night. I didn’t want to leave the house somedays.
As the years past, I suffered quietly but I still managed to deal with it. It wasn’t so bad and the hair loss seemed to slow down. As life went on I worked, and I dated and went about my normal days BUT, I always wondered what people thought about my hair. When they talked to me, did they notice? Did they whisper behind my back? Did they feel bad for me and not bring it up to my face? I was convinced everyone was looking at my head, all the time. To everyone around me, I came off as confident and normal…but I wasn’t. I was embarrassed, stressed, emotionally broken and constantly assuming people were talking about me. It took many years to get over that part. Many many years.
When I met my husband, a few months in, he brought up the hair thing. I was doing my hair one night to go out with friends and he came up behind me and pointed out a major bald spot as I was finishing up my blow dry and said, “you might want to fix this?”…
WAIT…WHAT? WHAT? I was shaking, shocked and embarrassed….I responded…”I might want to DO WHAT? FIX WHAT? WHAT EXACTLY DO IIIIII need to fix? Are you trying to say something about me?”
He stood there, like a deer in headlights. Poor guy.
I immediately got defensive and then my eyes welled up as I stood there helpless until I fell to the floor crying and slowly turned into a blubbering mess. It was the first time since that first day on the patio that ANYONE had ever said a thing to me about my hair. I put down my blow dryer and brush and we sat together on the cold bathroom tile floor. We didn’t go out that night. Instead, we sat together all night talking about my hair. I shared everything, all my feelings, all my worries, all my moments.
It felt so good to talk about it. That’s when Ben suggested maybe I find other women with similar hair loss, and he directed me to the web. Sure enough, I found an amazing group of women on the women’s hair loss project website. My hair loss story took a turn. I was no longer alone. Like…really NOT alone. Thousands and thousands of women gathered on this website sharing stories, details, experiences, ideas, things they tried…I found my place, my tribe, my people. For the first time ever I felt ok about it. I felt hopeful.
To be continued soon…
Have you experienced hair loss? Can you relate? I would love to hear your story, your tips, your tricks, your successes and your challenges. Please share below and support one another to create change and more awareness!
Till the next post,