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Trichotillomania in Movies: Hair Pulling on the Big Screen

Hi friends! Finding trichotillomania representation in movies can be pretty hard. I’ve scoured the internet and found six movies which have trich rep. Let’s take a look!

What Types of Movies Are Included?

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This list includes fictional movies that have been shown on big screens (in theaters) or on TV.

Other lists will be coming later for the following audiovisual types: news/media videos, medical professional videos, memoir/documentary videos and TV shows.

I have also recently explored the TED Talk archives and found 4 Trichotillomania TED Talks which are short, inspiring talks given by trichsters from around the world. If you haven’t seen it, feel free to check it out 🙂

Trigger Warning: There is hair pulling in all of these movies. If seeing that is triggering for you, please do not watch them.

Trichotillomania in the Movie

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Who = main character, important side character or side character

Portrayal = realistic, not realistic (my opinion)

Handling = how other characters handled the trichster’s hair pulling

Trichy Movies Worth Watching

I would pick Dirty Filthy Love and Young Adult as movies to recommend. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I liked them or that they’re my favorite movies or anything. I’m just saying that they got their trich rep right.

Young Adult (2011)

Rating: R-rated Comedy/Drama

Synopsis: A writer returns to her hometown in the hopes of getting her ex back.

Trich Rep: Main character / Realistic / No one noticed

In Young Adult, although her trich is never addressed, the ways it was portrayed were true to form, in my opinion. So, while the character didn’t engage with her trich (nor did anyone else), at least trich was a facet of her character AND was portrayed well.

Dirty Filthy Love (2004)

Info: R-rated Drama/Romance

Synopsis: A man’s life falls apart when his OCD and Tourette’s Syndrome get worse.

Trich: Important side character / Realistic / Excellent

Of all the movies on this list, it is really Dirty Filthy Love which has a surprising ending. I was so moved by the end. You really feel the rawness of being exposed and judged, the heartbreak of being “the other” and the healing that comes with acceptance, both of self and from others. If you want a trichy happy ending, watch this one.

Handling Mental Health Poorly

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Terri was actually a slow-burning movie that had equal parts melancholy and sweetness. The trichster in the movie is kind of an asshat, but I didn’t mind that because at least he wasn’t a murderer or vessel of Satan (see below).

Terri (2011)

Info: R-rated Comedy/Drama

Synopsis: An 15 year old boy struggles to deal with his home life and high school.

Trich Rep: Side character / Unrealistic / Poor

I did, however, find it hard to watch the way in which his trich was portrayed, as well as the way in which his mental illness was handled by the Principal of the school. It was poorly done. If only the Principal had taken the time to support instead of belittle, I might have had a completely different feeling towards their use of trich in the movie. Aren’t we beyond the stage where mental illness makes someone weird?

Into the Bin: Trichotillomania as Horror Element

Starry Eyes (2014)

Rating: R-rated Drama/Fantasy/Horror

Synopsis: An actress accepts a deadly agreement in order to make it in Hollywood.

Trich Rep: Main character / Unrealistic / Poor

Friend Request (2016)

Rating: R-rated Horror/Thriller

Synopsis: A girl is haunted by a demonic presence she friended online.

Trich Rep: Important side character / Good / Poor

Creep 2 (2017)

Rating: R-rated Horror/Thriller

Synopsis: A vlogger films an alleged serial killer and things don’t go well.

Trich Rep: Main character / Good / Although he names it (trichotillomania), the other character doesn’t engage with it.

Bad Rep: Dumpster Fire Discussion

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First off, I’m a horror chicken. Watching Starry Eyes, Creep 2 and Friend Request was 100% not my cup of tea (my husband watched through the scary bits for me). But, I’m committed to sussing out every instance of trich rep possible. So, here we are.

Honestly, I almost didn’t make this movie list at all because I was disheartened by the trich rep I could find. I wanted to find a bunch of movies that showed a variety of people who have trich as part of their everyday life, just as all of us trichsters do. Instead, I found instances where trich is used as a character trait linked to insanity, murderers and vessels of Satan.

It is hard for me to even say if rep is good or not when their inclusion is part of a demonic ritual (Starry Eyes) or the absorption of dead victims’ traits (Creep 2). What even is that? What does it say about the stigma attached to trich that our “rep” is in the form of such obvious societal outcasts? They’re “othered” and demonized–sometimes even literally!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not an outcast. Sure, I’m an introvert who prefers cuddling dogs and reading books, but I have friends and a life as well! I hate that people might get any preconceived negative associations they have with trich reinforced by a dumb horror movie. Most trichsters I know are incredibly empathetic and kind, which is certainly not how they are represented.

A part of me also thinks it might be because physical beauty is so revered in our culture. Our hair loss, our own causing of the “disfigurement” is abhorrent to people who can’t understand it. Not having beautiful hair impacts how people perceive us. It shouldn’t. But, it does. And, truthfully, that sucks.

I keep wondering to myself if any rep is better than no rep at all. I’m not sure. What do you guys think? I have ended up making this list in the hopes that I can add to it as time goes on. Hopefully, people may remember other movies. Heck, maybe you like the idea of a trichster demon. Who am I to say?

Final Thoughts

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All I know is that I want more people talking about trich. If we share more, maybe the stigma can lessen just a bit. Then, bit by bit, maybe it will be a disorder that is de-stigmatized. And, of course, I also like to recognize when trich is well represented, as with Dirty Filthy Love and Young Adult.

What do you think of the any rep vs. no rep debate? Do you know any other instances of trich in movies, TV shows, books, music, anything at all? I’ve already made lists for trich rep in music as well as trich rep in books. I’m always hoping to hear of more, though. So, if you do know any, please comment below. I’d be thrilled to hear from you.

If you liked this or want to get more BFRB goodies when I upload, consider checking out my Facebook and Twitter. As always, thanks so much for reading and take care. xx Rexie

**Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. If you have an issue with any of my images, please let me know and I will take them down immediately. Thanks!**

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