Guest Blog by Pam Fitros
My dear friend Pam is featured in today’s informative post. Yip, we met through a supportive authors mentoring group and have become firm friends. Pam is an incredible inspiration, writes beautifully and has a tremendous sense of humour. I’d love your comment below the post. Do you know anyone else with this condition? Do you have a condition that also poses many social challenges?
Over to Pam!
What do you do to take good care of yourself?
- Eat right?
- Maintain a clutter free environment that promotes calm?
But what do you do when taking care of yourself is in direct opposition to social norms and expectations?
When I lost all my body hair to alopecia universalis, taking good care of myself meant throwing away the social comfort of a wig to venture forth totally bald into a hair obsessed society.
AU is the rarest form of alopecia areata – an autoimmune disorder that targets one’s own hair as foreign invaders, promptly evicts them and prevents regrowth. It manifests in spots that sometimes grow back, or the complete loss of scalp hair, or, as in my case, total loss of body hair with little likelihood of regrowth.
I was physically healthy, just…bald. I was encouraged to wear a wig to prevent others from feeling uncomfortable with my hairless head. So I did.
Wearing the wig took care of saving others from having to deal with my baldness, but it certainly didn’t take care of me.
I began to pencil in eyebrows and use eyeliner to define my eyes. Wigs are hot. I sweat a lot. The sweat oozed under my wig and rolled down my face washing my make up into muddy rivulets winding their way down my cheeks, leaving me embarrassed and frustrated. The moist heat was the perfect environment for growing yeast infections. The itching and discomfort drove me to distraction.
Casual physical contact became constrained for me. Is my hair on straight? Hugs became mine fields of sagging and snagging potential. Was the person I was hugging wearing glasses or anything on their ears that might get caught in the fibers of my wig? Did their clothing pose any threat? What danger lay in wait from a benign piece of jewelry? It took a high degree of concentration to navigate the obstacle course to give or get a hug. Anxiety over the condition, position and stability of my fake hair took predominance in my thoughts.
A wig wearing bald woman doesn’t ever get to forget she’s bald. The sense of unconscious self is erased. Inside, part of her is always aware, always on alert for clues that might give her away.
If someone came up behind me while I was sitting in a chair, looking up and back over my shoulder to see who it was pushed the wig up higher on my scalp. It formed a large mound on top of my head as though I’d magically transformed my hairdo into the teased bubble style of the Sixties. Worse yet, it would start to slip off sideways, and I’d smack the top of my head to ram it back into place. You can imagine how professional that looked…not!
Finally it dawned on me that taking care of the sensibilities of other people was harmful to my health. I’d like to say it was wonderful right from the start. But it wasn’t.
The wig had protected me from the stares and whispered comments of others, well, when it was on straight anyway. Now people were looking, nodding their heads sagely and asking how much longer my chemo treatments were going to take. Children asked me if I knew I didn’t have any hair while mothers hushed them and looked at me apologetically. Eventually my employer let me know I no longer represented his office the way he wanted it represented.
But, oh my head, my dear, most necessary, precious head delighted in this new freedom. Yeast infections cleared up and stayed gone. Breezes caressed bare scalp, and hugs were once again a delight. With every passing day I became happier and happier. I learned how to cope with comments and questions, smile broadly at stares, and feel like myself again. Many times I forgot all about being bald. My only accessories became a pair of jazzy earrings and a joyful heart.
- People get over themselves eventually
- Accept who you are
- Let yourself be who you are
- Love who you are – every aspect of who you are.
- Let go of your fear of being different. The truth is you are different – completely unique.
- When you love and cherish and take care of yourself, you give others the gift of an opportunity to push themselves out of their own comfort zone to meet new challenges.
Pam Fitros is the author of Boldly Bald Women, an international Amazon Best Seller. She is a survivor of both ovarian cancer and alopecia universalis – an autoimmune disorder that targets one’s own body hair and prevents regrowth.
Pam has found a life calling to educate people about female hair loss in a hair obsessed society and to support the women struggling with the emotional and social impacts of hair loss.