My hair was at the core of my identity, and when it was gone I was forced to look at myself under the microscope to figure out just who exactly I was and what I stood for. I was exposed to the world and it scared the hell out me. There are so many things we associate with hair. Soft curls? Feminine, of course. A sharp bob? Professional. A pixie cut? Edgy. And if you have no hair? You look sick. You look strange. You’re different. It is hard for me to know that the first thing that pops into someone’s mind when they see me is “I wonder what is wrong with her?” but it is. I can’t deny that.
When it comes to our conceptions of beauty, some things have changed in the past 10 years, but a woman with no hair remains an uncommon sight. People want to look and question, and it’s hard not to be disappointed in them.
I know that I no longer fit the conventional definition of beauty. I’ve had to fight so hard for people to see beyond what I look like. But if confidence is based on who you think you are as a person, the reality is that when you no longer know who you are, your confidence stops, too.
When you’re dating it’s the elephant in the room. When do you address what is going on? How do you explain it? How would you feel laying out your whole medical history to a stranger you’ve just met? It’s not like internal medical conditions where you can decide if and when to disclose that information. It’s open slather. The first time I went on a date I felt like I had nothing to talk about, because losing my hair had been all-consuming. I was convinced I needed to explain what was going on as if it was to warn them, “Hey! I’m damaged goods so now is great time to run as far away as possible.” I mean who wants to date a problem-riddled person? I self-sabotaged every date I went on for months – that is, if I hadn’t found a way to bail out at the last minute.
Physical attraction is a big part of a romantic relationship, but when your hair is a major part of your appearance it’s hard not to feel unattractive when it’s no longer there. Just look at Tinder. The whole premise is based on the impression you form of someone based on their looks, within a matter of seconds. My confidence took a real hit every time a “match” told me their friends just swiped right on me as a “joke”. Then there’s the people who found it funny to crack a joke about my looks in their opening line, and then take offence when I take offence at their remarks. When someone uses you and your situation as a joke, it reaffirms all those negative thoughts that are already running through your mind. It’s only a select (and insignificant) few who have done it, but a quick message can have such long-lasting effects.