Hypocrisy in the Hair Loss Community
“Wow he looks so distinguished, so clean cut and professional.”
“I feel so bad for her, having patchy hair loss is so unfortunate.”
These are two comments I heard from a table of women next to me when I was sitting at a coffee shop. The first in relation to a man in a suit with a shaved head. He couldn’t have been more than 35, but I would agree that he looked very put together and him being bald somehow added to his charisma. The second, I am sure you can guess what that was related to. A woman - in her mid 20s , maybe early 30s - entered the coffee shop to place her order and she removed her beanie when she sat down at a table with her back facing me and that other table of women. Not noticeable unless you are really looking for it, this woman had a balding patch near her hairline where it was clear a large chunk of hair was missing - only once you stared at it.
My first thought when I heard what these women were saying and laughing about was to defend the woman and tell them to hit the road. Having suffered with my own body and self-image issues over the years, I would never want to hear complete strangers say something like that about me within earshot. But something stopped me. I feared that if I drew attention to these women who were blatantly judging her, that would only make her more self conscious and uncomfortable. So, I simply sat and tried my best to ignore them as I finished my drink and left.
This whole interaction made me think: why is hair loss treated so differently between men and women? Men going bald is never a huge issue and is actually a - sometimes preferred - look in the eyes of many women. However, when a woman begins to lose her hair, her youth, or her figure, then clearly she must be doing something wrong and needs to be publicly shamed into fixing herself.
Now, I would like to think that in a post body positive world this doesn’t happen as often, but that simply isn’t true. When big movements in society happen, many believe “awesome, that’s great! Well we fixed it so we never have to think about it again.” And because no one is thinking about it, we slip back into our old habits and routines because “no, we aren’t like that anymore; remember we fixed that when [insert event here] happened.”
Being a woman in society has always been difficult because of the standards of how we are supposed to look, act, speak, and simply be. There is not one perfect example of what it means to be a woman, much the same way there isn’t one perfect way to be a man. Regardless of gender, the way to be the “perfect example” of your gender is much easier than you think: just be you. Don’t go out of your way to change yourself because society is telling you to. If you want to change something about yourself, for yourself, then by all means dye your hair pink or get a new wig! If you change yourself to fit the mold of what you think is expected of you rather than how you want to see yourself, you aren’t ever going to look the way you want because what you are feeling inside is going to flow out of you and you will never be happy.
So embrace insecurity and flaws, they make you special and unique. And - to women in particular - when you see someone who doesn’t adhere to traditional beauty ideals, don’t judge her for her flaws, you don’t know what she has been through or why she does the things she does. Instead, be thrilled that she is brave and strong enough to not care what others think of her. It is true that the narrative about beauty in society today is changing, but there is still more to do; and the way we change the narrative about what is and isn’t attractive starts with changing how we feel about ourselves.
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