Imagine if the thing that you use to define your femininity is suddenly taken away from you, without any rhyme or reason by a mysterious, confidence crushing disease.
We live in a culture obsessed with hair, and everywhere we look in the media, we see people showing off their luscious, long, silky locks. Can you imagine what it would be like to have no hair, in a world that defines people by their appearance? This problem is very real, and affects more Australians than you know, with one in four suffering from some form of hair loss.
For me, this became all too real one morning at the tender age of 9, I woke up to my worst nightmare.
What was happening to me?
My once thick, long brown hair was falling out everywhere, my pillow was covered and handful after handful would come out in the shower. It is both scary and confusing, because you have no idea what is going on, where is my hair going?
Not long after that, I was diagnosed with Alopecia, a rare auto-immune condition which causes sudden hair loss and, just like that, you suddenly feel stripped of your femininity, sexuality and beauty.
Is there anything you can do about Alopecia?
In short, no. I would go to extreme lengths to get my hair back, yet nothing worked. From acupuncture and strict diets to lathering my head in strong hair growth chemicals, drinking flour like powders and even sleeping with black tar on my head.
Life doesn’t stop when you get Alopecia.
I still had to go to school when my hair was coming out, but what I couldn’t come to terms with was: how can you go to school with no hair? Over the next few months, things got even worse, the kids at school realised my hair was falling out. After a while, I just couldn’t cover it anymore, so I decided to wear a wig. Sadly, this still didn’t put an end to my bullying nightmare.
In the next photo, you can see my first wig. It was stringy and made from synthetic hair, it was plastic! Who wants to wear plastic hair when all you want to do is fit in? It looked so awful, like a huge plastic ball of frizz on my head. No wonder the kids at school called me “mop head”.
I remember so clearly when our family had to pack up and move to Ireland.
I thought no one will know me, know my past and most importantly, they won’t know I have no hair.
This is going to be sweet, I thought to myself. I had just gone from a brunette to a blonde overnight and I was going to conquer the world! I got to my new school, and my new wig was, quite clearly, more obvious than I thought.
My new classmates thought I was a criminal hiding my identity by wearing a wig.
Eventually, I admitted why I wore a wig, but this only opened me up to the evil side of teenagers. I hit an all time low when a close friend of mine walked up to me in the middle of the playground, grabbed my wig off my head and threw it on the floor. In a complete state of shock and devastation, I picked my wig up off the ground and ran to the bathroom, where I hid for several hours until the head mistress eventually convinced me to come out. This is a persistent fear of mine, that someone will just come and yank it off.
I survived Ireland and, thankfully, not long after that, my hair started to grow back, but this didn’t solve my problems. I remember walking in that first day with pixie hair, thinking, ‘this is not how I want to make my first impression’. For me, as a young woman, I didn’t feel feminine or pretty and at this highly vulnerable time you just want to fit in, be like the rest of the girls and be “normal”.
But, the pixie look didn’t last too long, as the alopecia beast made its way back into my life.
I always backed out of school camps as it meant keeping my hair on for 7 days straight because I refused to take it off. At netball, I would have to duck to the bathroom in the breaks to wipe the sweat out, because I had a suction based wig that wouldn’t be able grip if there was any sweat. It also meant shaving my head daily.
When my hair grew back this time, my parents took me on a family holiday to Bali so I could take off my wig and let my hair grow. This time, it stuck around for just over a decade.
So, when it came to losing my hair for the 3rd time, I decided I would take control and not let it beat me. I asked my hairdresser to shave off all of the hair I had left. She asked if I wanted to look the other way. No, it was almost like I was numb to the whole experience.
That very first moment you see yourself completely bald again, it is a complete mix of emotions. In one sense it was invigorating because I made the decision this time, but at the same time, there goes my femininity again, in one clean shave.
This time around, there were no more synthetic wigs and no more suction based wigs. But, sadly, I had been sold a wig which I quickly learnt was doing more harm than good. This “fusion wig” had to be glued to my scalp every few weeks with heavy chemical glues, leaving my scalp raw, blistering and weeping. I was also being sold what I was lead to believe was premium hair, yet had been substituted for a cheap semi-synthetic hair. These wigs were next to impossible to manage and, at best, they would last 5-6 weeks. It was like re-living alopecia all over again, but this time it cost over $2000 per treatment.
It was from this nightmare that I turned things around. It became the beginning of my beautiful journey!
A friend referred me to a spiritual healer, I walked in to my first session she said to me, “You have alopecia and we will fix this.” I was in tears while I told her all about my battles to find the perfect hair. Little did I know, 12 months later I would open my very own wig shop.
That journey, for me, was all about finding my right path. I managed to do this while chasing the dream of finding the perfect wig and starting my own business.
Now my goal is to help the women feel beautiful, sexy and feminine, all of which having your hair back can do for you.
I want to help others with Alopecia or any type of hair loss fall in love with themselves again. Hair loss will affect your confidence, but you can learn to live with it, you will overcome it and this will give you the strength to overcome challenges in other areas of your life. I honestly believe I am a stronger person because of it.
So how do you overcome this to help others?
Primarily, you have to completely accept yourself for who you are, love yourself and be open to telling people your story. Women crave the strength in others to aspire to. If I was still sad and insecure about my lack of hair, I couldn’t put myself out there to help other women. I needed to feel beautiful and confident with how I look to be able to inspire other women to feel confident too.
Hair loss doesn’t need to define you, it just one tiny part of who you are.
Life is very different now, I have the most amazingly beautiful luscious long brown hair and Alopecia has strengthened me so that I can do wonderful and life changing things.
I am proud to have launched The Beautiful Hair Boutique, I am excited to help women feel feminine and beautiful again and I am excited about what lies ahead of me.
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