Many Causes, Same Result
There are many reasons a person may experience baldness. While many are the result of radiation or medicine used to treat severe or life-threatening illnesses, there are also those which leave the body intact, just with less hair than before. Here are some of the more commonly known causes:
- Androgenic alopecia – female/male pattern baldness
- Alopecia areata – autoimmune disorder causing patchy hair loss on the scalp
- Alopecia totalis – when A. areata has spread to the entire scalp
- Alopecia universalis – when A. totalis occurs across the entire body
- Ciatrical/Scarring alopecia – hair follicles are destroyed and replaced by scar tissue
- Traction alopecia – caused by outside forces such as hairstyles or hair treatments
- Trichotillomania – hair pulling disorder
As you can see, the majority of hair loss causes have to do with alopecia, when the body itself causes a person to lose hair. Of the alopecia types, traction alopecia is the most similar to trichotillomania, due to external forces employed by the person to their own hair. To read more on the commonalities and disparities between the two, I recommend checking out this 2017 article published by InTech.
Challenging Beauty Standards
U.K. Fashion designers and models with alopecia have banded together to show the world that hair loss is nothing to be embarrassed about. The #AlopeciaIsFashion movement, founded by the Hair Heals Organisation and the Liverpool Urban Hair Show, is working on promoting hair loss awareness and visibility. According to a 2018 interview by Refinery29, the people involved have messages to spread about being bald. My favorite one is:
“Seeing others look beautiful and strong will show others that they can do the same. We’re all so quick to judge ourselves compared to others when really, we’re the only ones like us, so why not just embrace it and forget everything else?” – Evangeline Betts, model and campaign spokesperson
The fashion designers, models and ambassadors are working to change the way the fashion industry looks at those without hair. They are challenging the standards of beauty, raising awareness and being bold and fearless along the way. Their campaign has even been covered by the BBC. Clearly, they are killing it as far as raising awareness goes. Assessing their success in terms of changing people’s minds about baldness is harder to determine. However, I sincerely hope that their visibility helps more people redefine their standards of hair-based beauty—both those within looks-based industries as well as those of us struggling to come to terms with our own hair loss.
What Trichsters Can Learn From #AlopeciaIsFashion
I understand that trichsters may feel that they don’t belong in the #AlopeciaIsFashion movement because we pull our hair out ourselves. However, I’m going to have to disagree. I think that regardless of how we reached baldness, we can use the same platform to promote acceptance, self-love and self-empowerment.
Lesson #1: Accept Yourself
I’m not going to tell you that you need to stop pulling or you’ll never be happy. I used to think that way. I’m sure it would be great if I could stop (if only!). Instead, I’ve learned to come to terms with the fact that I may have trichotillomania my whole life. I’ve accepted it. Shaming myself and being embarrassed by my actions does no good. Why agonize over it and belittle myself? Seriously, why? Now, I just try to minimize the damage and get on with living my life. We need to accept ourselves as we are. Accept our bodies, in whatever state they’re in. I wear a wig and shave my head. I’ve accepted that. It feels good to be comfortable in my own body 🙂
Lesson #2: Have Confidence
I hope with more acceptance of myself, I’ll be able to go bare in public someday. Like those U.K. models, campaigners and designers, I hope we can all reach that level of confidence. We need to move past just accepting ourselves. We need to really embrace it and regain our confidence. No matter the state of your hair or your body, or anything about yourself, there is no need to stay at home, no need to hide, no need to stop yourself from going out there and living. Some of you trichsters out there already have so much confidence! I’ve seen such beautiful people on Facebook and Twitter, both with beautiful hair and also bare. You’re all such an inspiration 🙂
Lesson #3: Live the Life You Want
The activists in the U.K. campaign are putting their words into actions. They are visibly living the life they want to have. Bold, rainbow fashion choices that draw attention to them? YES. Participating in fashion shows where hundreds of eyes will be on them? YES. Doing international interviews promoting awareness and self-love? YES YES YES. They are living. No hiding, no shame, no embarrassment. They’re just humans who’ve accepted who they are.
I decided a long time ago that I was not going to let trich stop me from living my life. I’ve scuba dived wrecks, swam with sharks, graduated with two degrees, lived in South Korea and Japan, soon Australia, adopted two dogs, dated and then married my partner, was a teacher, am a writer and editor, backpacked Thailand, been—lived—went—did—experienced—saw–had…
The point is that no matter how sick I’ve been, or what people may have said about me, the one thing no one can say is that I ever stopped myself from anything. Yeah, sometimes diving made my wigs into 1 single dreadlock (not ideal). Or while backpacking, wig maintenance was hard (questionable choices were made). Or that my decision to live and travel abroad alone increased my stress levels (oh yeah, totally did). The point is this:
If you get one precious life, don’t you want to live it?
Come Talk to Me
I know I’ve said a lot of things to think about in this post. I’d really love to hear what you think. If you want to share your thoughts, feel free to comment below or join me on Facebook or Twitter. As always, thanks so much for reading and take care. xx Rexie
PS – Finding free-use (no copyright) images of bald people that are HAPPY was near impossible. The only one I was able to find was of the woman submerged in the water. It was too cool not to include. So, yes, I’m aware that no other pictures are explicitly bald. I did my best. I don’t want to use any image that someone hasn’t made free for public use. If anyone has any other sources to get free-use photos other than Pixabay or Pexels and so on, I’d love to know 🙂
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. If you have a problem with any of my images please let me know and I will take them down immediately. Thanks!