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Eyes of the Bald Beholder

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What do three alopecic women talk about when they get together for lunch? Normal chitchat, catching up, but inevitably the conversation turns to lack-of-hair issues. It’s not that any of us are obsessed with our dormant-to-dead hair follicles. One of my friends has had alopecia for fifty years and the other for thirty years. I’m the newbie in the group as I’m “celebrating” my tenth year.

We all have different stories about our hair loss, some funny, some sad. My two friends are never seen in public without their wigs, whereas I prefer scarves. When I initially lost my hair, I had alopecia universalis (total hair loss). Several years ago, my hair returned for about one and a half years, only to largely fall out again. I now have numerous large bald spots, and hair that is unnaturally dark and the texture of a horse’s mane. I have a major receding hairline, with holes in it. I hardly call this “hair.” To me, it’s an annoyance and simply makes me feel very abnormal.

But—hair is in the eye of the bald beholder. I found my two bald friends enviously eying my flyaway sideburns protruding from my scarf. One commented, “If I could only have side burns, I would feel more normal.” I removed my scarf to show them the entire battlefield of hair that I persistently remove by electric razor. They oooh’d and ahhh’d over my horse tufts of hair like it was a Brooke Shield’s mane. They may love it, but I avoid looking at myself in the mirror. I cover my head twenty-four hours a day in a scarf and would be deeply embarrassed if my patchwork head were ever exposed. I would much prefer to have a shiny bald head.

One more case of the “grass is always greener on the other side,” or in this case, “the hair is always better on the other head.”

Susan M. Beausang, President


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