Friday, 13 November 2015

Support Network

From my own experience with alopecia I find the biggest help and the best way to deal with the condition is to have an amazing support network around you.

Since the beginning of my journey, I've accumulated an ever growing network of family, friends and acquaintances (those I haven't met in person but speak to online) who help me through my dark days, encourage me when I'm about to take my next step and congratulate me when I've done something I'm proud of.

There is no worse feeling when you're going through a tough time than loneliness. It doesn't have to be that way, however. Confiding your feelings in someone you trust can bring an immediate sense of relief. Even sitting in the company of somebody who understands your struggle can be a break from your own thoughts.

Discovering Be Bold, Alopecia UK, my local alopecia support group meeting and Pretty Bald has encouraged my self confidence, introduced me to new friends and given me information I can take forward and apply in my own life.

Last night, I attended my local Newcastle support group. I've attended this group since it first began back in 2014 when there were just a handful of us having cups of tea, eating biscuits (LOVE biscuits!) and sharing our stories. Since that time I've seen the group grow in numbers and it's been fantastic to be involved with that.

I must admit, when I heard the phrase "support group", I did groan. I didn't want to be sat in a room full of sad people, crying and bringing me down. I have my down days now and again but generally I'm pretty OK with my condition. I wanted to be around like minded people.

I was an idiot.

These support groups are vital in some people's acceptance of themselves. I can see, especially in the cases of those who are currently losing their hair, that their self esteem is at an all time low. They feel alone. Attending group meetings is a massive step to anyone suffering any kind of condition and they do it to progress. We help each other, offer information, advice, assistance and support - obviously!

If you're in need of a sympathetic ear or want to gather information of services near you I would definitely say, attend a meeting. Alopecia UK have a handy section on their website showing all groups that currently meet in the UK, check them out here: http://www.alopeciaonline.org.uk/support-groups.asp

We're here to help each other.

Much love, Kay x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Friday, 23 October 2015

Freedom!

Hola!

I hope you're all good? I've been AWOL from this blog over the last few months - my apologies! But a lot has happened...

So, as most of you will be aware, September is Alopecia Awareness Month! A time to speak openly about the condition, raise awareness and show support to those going through tough times. I relish it!  I also thought it was a prime opportunity to grow as a person, push my boundaries and spend the whole month hair free!

This decision was inspired by other fantastic people who spend each day being themselves, completely true to who they are. Embracing that they're "different" and accepting their condition. I've briefly spoken before about how I've learned to become comfortable in my own skin (see Love Is In the Air? http://prettybaldonline.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/love-is-in-air.html) but I don't think that was wholly true...  because while I'd share pictures of myself online via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter of me being hair free, I spent the vast majority of my time in public with the shield of my wig. As at 31 August, the only time I'd gone au natural was at the gym and while attending Alopecia UK events (which you guys should go to!). So, I took a vow to spend the whole of September wig free and "Pretty Bald".

This was no easy feat. However, when Tuesday 1 September came around...I completely rocked it! For the first time EVER, I went to work wig free. I had spoken to my team the day before to let them know my plans - this was my way of controlling the situation and their reactions, I didn't want the "oh, you're not wearing your wig" comments, I just wanted everything to be as normal as possible - and it really was. I need not have worried in the slightest as everyone was extremely supportive and I received some quite lovely words of encouragement from colleagues in the wider firm, who I don't see every day, that wanted to let their support known.

That day, in fact, I received two free tickets to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at Sunderland Royal Theatre so threw myself right in to the opportunity of spending the evening in a very public forum bearing all! The whole day and evening was fantastic, I instantly wished I'd done it sooner!
The whole of Alopecia Awareness Month was an exciting, eye opening and ultimately life changing time for me. I went wig free, I attended the Alopecia UK Big Weekend in Manchester, had my first night out hair free and I ran the Great North Run! Each event brought with it a slight anxiety but I overcame each obstacle. I couldn't have done that without the support of loved ones, friends, colleagues and even strangers! These are the people that can help you too, should you need it.

I implore anybody who is holding back to just go for it! Live your life the way you want to. Don't feel pressured to look a certain way. The work of alopecia charities and individuals raising awareness of the condition is fantastic and it brings us closer every day to having the condition "out there". There is no such thing as "normal" now. We're all unique and that should be celebrated and appreciated.

Much Love, Kay x
At work (Pretty Bald calendar in the background!)
AUK Big Weekend
Great North Run




Night out with friends
Out for dinner before the Theatre
AUK Big Weekend



 
 
www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Thursday, 10 September 2015

A #100HairFreeDays recap for the lovely @Chelt52 followers

As part of my week on @Chelt52 and my drive for Alopecia Awareness, I am sharing some things that have gone before that I feel help provide an insight. Here's a recap of my #100HairFreeDays project...

Inspired by the #100HappyDays trend, in February I put a little bald spin on the game and took part in my very own #100HairFreeDays challenge, or as I’d like to call it – ‘The Silver-Lining Game’. For 100 days straight, I posted one benefit of losing my hair (which was more than a little difficult!). Initially, I wasn’t sure I’d manage to find 100, but with the help of some of my fellow baldies, I actually realised that there are so many advantages to having no hair!

Here are my personal favourites:





Losing my hair for the first time was devastating and I felt so alone as I didn’t know anyone who had been through it. I struggled to cope with the emotional and psychological impacts of hairloss because let’s face it, how do you handle losing something which seems so much a part of your identity? For me, the Silver Lining Game was just one technique that got me back on track and was a huge part of ‘accepting’ my condition.

You can check out my #100hairfreedays on my Twitter which is @PrettyBald or search ‘#100hairfreedays’ on my blog as I did a quick round up each week and also collated them in one safe place.

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

E is for... A-Z of hairloss

Continuing on from D, because apparently this letter comes after that(!), we welcome E to the A-Z of hairloss... As always, don’t hesitate to let me know if I’ve forgotten anything!

E is for...

Eggheads – Last month, I got onto a 6-hour train all the way to Glasgow with the Alopecia team for the filming of Eggheads! The whole idea was to raise awareness for Alopecia sufferers as we would be on the show completely bald. It was a fabulous experience and you can read all about it in detail here...



Endurance – Trying to come to terms with my condition was extremely difficult; not only physically, learning wig maintenance, getting to grips with my bodily changes, but also mentally. It took drained all the mental endurance I had as I would often get angry not only at myself but other people.

Explanation – As there is no definite cause or trigger for Alopecia, it’s kind of hard to accept. I wanted an explanation as to why it was happening to me and no one else; I had no one to turn to for advice. That’s when I found Alopecia UK and all the wonderful men and women with the same condition as me and I felt relieved... united. I grew to just accept it and if they do discover a treatment for it, I don’t think I’m ready to get my hair back yet!

Entertainment – To see a bald woman walk down the street isn’t all too common these days, so I did become the punch line of some people’s jokes. Sometimes they were hurtful, other times it was just annoying but I just kept thinking... bald is beautiful, and I got through it.

Engaged – One morning, my boyfriend of four years surprised me in bed after waking up by turning over and asking “Oh, will you marry me?” and my initial reaction was “Are you serious?!” There’s always a stigmatism around people with no hair that they’re not being as beautiful as those with hair and I thought that I wouldn’t get that same level of romance - but I was wrong! My boyfriend, now fiancé, is absolutely lovely and I couldn’t imagine my life without him and same goes for my hair (or lack of!). He loves me for me and I’m so thankful...

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

D is for... A-Z of hairloss

Continuing on from C, here is the A-Z of hairloss for the letter D!

Don’t forget to let me know if I missed something out!

D is for...

Devastating – Understandably, losing your hair can come as a devastating endeavour for any man or women as it pretty much defines who we are and what we look like. As for me, I got very angry and often took out my own confusion with my condition as anger on other people, which was not good I tell you!

Damn right embarrassing –When I first lost my hair, I was terrified of going out without covering up my bonce and there were negative thoughts constantly swirling through my head such as “What will that person think of me?” Of course, I did manage to pluck up the courage to freely walk outside wigless and I have to say, it’s oddly liberating!

Dogs – If you don’t know by now, I’m a massive dog-lover and have two very loyal doggies myself called Ceefer and Zotti. They are very clever, and when I would get upset they would just cheer me right up.

Disbelief – As of today, there still isn’t a definite cause of Alopecia. Of course there are contributing factors to other types of hairloss such as genetic disorders, drugs and chemotherapy, but it came to quite a shock to me when I started losing chunks of my hair and I thought “What have I done?” I was perfectly healthy, albeit I did like my bags of crisps, so why has this started? Over time I have learned to accept my baldness and I’ve realised that I shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks!

Dismorphia – When you lose all of your hair you do begin to see yourself differently. You start to question the standards of beauty and how your hair actually defines a lot of people and how they are perceived. However, even though it took me some time, I managed to accept my balness and I love it now! Bald is beautiful!

Victoria x


www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Hairloss perks when being a bridesmaid...

This Saturday I have the privilege of being a bridesmaid for my 'Godsister' Megan and to say I’m excited is an understatement! With things being a little hectic recently due to my engagement, this wedding, Chelt 52 and work, I cannot wait for a time where I can unwind (at least a little).

Thanks to my hairloss, I'll have a perk that none of the other bridesmaids can claim; I don’t have to spend hours choosing what to do with my hair. I can have a lie-in* whilst everyone else attending the wedding is frantically trying to do a sophisticated up-do or have perfect curls. Then I can ‘casually’ saunter over to meet the other bridesmaids after having chosen what wig I want to wear. I could have long hair, short hair, curly or straight hair! It just depends on what mood I’m in on the day.

That’s all I’ve got for you so far folks, I’ll let you know how the wedding goes soon!

Victoria x

*Please note, I do not honestly believe I will have ANY time for a lie-in; no doubt there will be lots to do and I'll simply be grateful for the extra few minutes I can save by wearing a wig ;-)

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Monday, 7 September 2015

Who is Pretty Bald...?

For my regular followers, I apologise for this blog post as it may seem like I am teaching granny to suck eggs... BUT, this week, I have taken over the @Chelt52 Twitter Account and will be sharing my story with more than 10,000 twitter followers.

When planning my week on @Chelt52, it seemed that the best place to start is at the very beginning (cue Julie Andrews here), and tell the @Chelt52 followers about who we are and what we do...

My name is Victoria Petkovic-Short and I have alopecia; an auto-immune condition where my own immune system attacks my healthy skin, hair and nail cells. There is no known cause of the condition (although many Doctors irritatingly ticked the 'stressed' box) and definitely no known cure. There are things which can help, but as they are either topical steroids or immunosuppressants, pursuit of flowing locks can often result in some nasty, terrifying and in many cases life-threatening side-effects! No thanks!

Losing your hair is often plonked in the 'who cares' box; people don't mean to sound harsh, but as I am so often told 'it's only hair'. While to an extent that is true - it is only hair and doesn't have a specific biological function - at the same time psychologically, this condition is debilitating, humiliating and all manner of other 'ting' words. In today's society, hair is inextricably linked to your femininity and masculinity and is given so much importance to who we are and what we do, that roughly 1 in 4 adverts on TV are for shampoo and 1 in 2 are for haircare products in general. In fact, haircare adverts outstrip make-up adverts by roughly 50%! Add to that the fact that one brand who shall remain nameless tells us we are 'worth it' when we have glossy, flowing locks and another tells us 'Greys, what greys' and suddenly that 'just hair' doesn't seem so trivial any more.

Losing my hair was difficult - in fact that is a huge understatement - and the whole time I was torn between feeling devastated and berating myself for getting so upset. It is the same (and yet so personal and different) for everyone, and is not to be underestimated, even though many of us are grateful to be alive and generally fairly healthy!

For me, one of the biggest challenges we face is a lack of awareness and even more so, a lack of money. Alopecia isn't 'fashionable' and couple that with the fact it is not life-threatening, and people give barely any money, if at all. In fact, what charities like Alopecia UK achieve on the relatively little they earn is phenomenal and something that they should be exceptionally proud of!

Pretty Bald was therefore an initiative that I set up to change perceptions of hairloss, fundraise for charity, build body-confidence and give something back. It may be a national rather than local initiative, but it is one that I am proud of and want to share with others in the community where I live!

I hope you enjoy my week and truly are not bored rigid!

Victoria x    

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Sunday, 6 September 2015

My plans for @Chelt52...

So as you may have spotted, we're appearing on the @Chelt52 Twitter Handle this week! @Chelt52 is pitched as a 'rotation curation' social media account, with a different Twitter user taking the reins each week and giving an insight into those who live and work in Gloucestershire. Some keep it local and some share more topic-specific stuff, but every single week is different! It's great!

Although I am local (based in Cheltenham), much of what I do, follow and care about has a national footing! Hopefully, the organisers (and you gorgeous @Chelt52 followers) will let me off for giving things a subject / national twist along the way...!

Pretty Bald was launched to raise awareness of Alopecia, change society perceptions of hairloss and importantly, fundraise for charity including Alopecia UK and the Little Princess Trust.

This week, I'll be working to give @Chelt52 followers an insight into what it's like to be a girl without hair, how you can help, what needs to change and importantly what we want to happen. We'll also throw in a sprinkling of the things I love locally and of course other accounts I love to follow!

I hope you enjoy! I'm certainly going to!

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

BBC Radio Gloucestershire... A week of fabulous stories!

Last week, I answered the BBC Radio Gloucestershire #PhoneWithNoHome and spoke with the lovely Mark Cummings, telling him a bit about myself, my hairloss and my ambitions. To my delight (and without any bribery on my part), Mark asked me to come back on the show and even better, he selected the 1st September breakfast show to coincide with the start of Alopecia Awareness Month.

After a ridiculously early start yesterday, I hesitantly strolled into the studio and awaited my turn in front of a mildly daunting microphone. Mark was a delight and asked me intelligent questions about life in the bald lane, giving me plenty of air time to talk Alopecia, Alopecia UK and Alopecia Awareness month.

Even better, my story started the ball rolling and the rest of this week will feature more people who have overcome adversity and made something of themselves! Listening to the trailers for the shows, I must say I'm once again humbled and feel truly lucky to be dealing with hairloss rather than a life-threatening condition, and really hope that this local feature will help remind others just how lucky we all are!

Thank you very much to Mark Cummings and BBC Radio Gloucestershire for having me on the show and for those of you who would like to listen, you can do so here...

(I'm at about 1hr21 and again at 1hr43)

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

It's the first of September and that can only mean...

...that's it's time to flip over the page of your Pretty Bald Calendar! Unfortunately, the weather hasn't been that great this year to enjoy many firepits and marshmallows, but one can still dream!


Victoria

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Monday, 31 August 2015

BBC Radio Gloucestershire tomorrow...

On the morning drivetime show on our local radio station BBC Radio Gloucetershire, Presenter Mark Cummings has created an ingenious feature called 'The Phone With No Home'. It is as you might have guessed, a mobile phone that passes from person to person around the County. Started a few months ago, the phone is given to someone, who answers it at about 8.40am, chats about themselves, then passes it on to the next person and so on and so forth. The process is designed to be organic, and so you get a whole range of individual characters on the show, from local Business People to the owner of a Village shop, a retired person to a young adult. Anyone could answer the phone and what they say really might surprise you!

This feature is one of my faves and I listen to it nearly every morning! I've loved the personal and interesting stories which have been shared along the way and think it is a great way to get to know more about the County!

To my surprise, just over a week ago my friend Glyn text me on Sunday evening, letting me know he'd been given #ThePhoneWithNoHome by his brother and would be appearing on air on Monday morning. He wanted to pass it on to me if I was willing, to be on air on Tuesday! Of course I was! I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity for a little more Alopecia Awareness.

So last Tuesday, I proudly answered #ThePhoneWithNoHome (a dream come true for me) and had a quick chat with Mark Cummings. Aside from one or two technical difficulties with signal, and a bit of muddling of words, it went pretty well I think! At least well enough that I can now announce that tomorrow morning, at around 7.15am I will actually be in the BBC Radio Gloucestershire studio sharing more of my story and importantly talking about Alopecia Awareness Month! A perfect way to kick off a month of awareness!

Please tune in tomorrow from about 7am (if you are up) and listen live to the show. If you aren't in Gloucestershire, then you can listen online here.

In the meantime, there are just two things left to do. The first is to thank Glyn from Collett and Holder for giving me the phone, and Gill Parker Sculptor for taking it from me, and the second is to point you in the direction of my stint with #ThePhoneWithNoHome on BBC iPlayer at about 2hr53!

Thanks folks and wish me luck!

Victoria x  

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Apologies for the Technical problems...

Lately, I’ve been writing many of my blogs on the go on my iPad, uploading them onto the blog from the app; well at least I thought I had been! A number of you have been in touch to point out that I haven't blogged at all in August and wondering if I've given up?!

The good news is, no I haven't given up! The bad news is that unfortunately, my posts haven't been uploading and so you've been missing out! The even more bad news for me is it seems I cannot fix it and so I've spent much of the Bank Holiday copying out and back-dating all the posts I'd written! The good news for you is that they are all now up and you can scroll back and read them! What's more, redownloading the blog app seems to have fixed the upload problem, so it shouldn't happen again! I will be keeper a closer eye on things from now on though! 

At the time of writing (31st August), I have about 4-5 more blog posts still to retype, so please bear with me and there will be a few more posts appearing with August dates on *sighs*!

For those of you who have missed me thanks, and very sorry for all the problems! Happy reading of the old ones and there are lots of new to come too!

I’ll keep you posted! (And hopefully my blogs will too!)

Victoria x


www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Taking over Chelt52; hairloss awareness in my local area...

As you know, for me, awareness of alopecia and other hairloss conditions is crucial to helping change perceptions, and ensuring body confidence for those who are going through hairloss difficulties! 
Well, I have some exciting news for you - next week, (commencing 7th September) Pretty Bald is taking over the @Chelt52 account on Twitter. We are very excited to be undertaking such a big project and we’d really appreciate it if every one of you guys could support us. It’s really easy, all you have to do is follow @Chelt52 on Twitter and retweet us!

@Chelt52 was set up at the beginning of 2014 as an innovative initiative to create a 'unique voice' in the local area; the idea behind it is a central Twitter Handle (@Chelt52) which is handed over and run by a different company, organisation or individual each week. You can find out more here...

There any many reasons why Pretty Bald is taking over @Chelt52 but the main one is of course to raise awareness. The account has nearly 10,500 followers, which is a pretty big audience for our Alopecia message! Even better, we asked for (and were granted) a week in September, taking advantage of the fact that September is National Alopecia Awareness month. How fitting! 

Running Pretty Bald as a business, my ambition is to provide a useful service, with products that we all need (at least baldies do), at the same time raising as much money as possible for charity. The whole business is running not-for-profit, which means when you buy a product from us, any profit that would normally go to the staff and Directors of a business instead go to charity! A win-win! 

Just as important for me, is our ambition to empower women (and men) locally and nationally who are suffering from hairloss and other circumstances and conditions which affect their confidence. Our first project of course was the Pretty Bald Calendar, and @Chelt52 is another example of this awareness campaign.

All you have to do to check out my week with @Chelt52 is to hop onto Twitter, click 'follow' on the account, then watch as I tweet and if you're feeling nice, Retweet or Favourite the things you like the most so that between us, we can make it go as far as possible!

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Friday, 21 August 2015

C is for... A-Z of hairloss

I know it's been a while since my last A-Z of hairloss, but it's finally time for the letter 'C'...

Calendar: I can't let the letter 'C' go past without a little mention and plug for our 2015 calendar - great awareness and working to change opinions. Read more at www.prettybald.co.uk 

Calm: in the early days, feelings of bring 'calm' seemed few and far between and I was in a semi-agitated state most of the time. Difficult as it will be, try your best to stay calm for two reasons; first, it helps you think more rationally and second, in things some cases e.g. Alopecia, feelings of stress can exacerbate the issue.

Cancer: Possibly the most obvious one when it comes to hairloss is cancer. Whilst the disease itself does not affect the growth of the hair, treatment in the form of chemotherapy causes partial or total hairloss. As treatments improve however, the rate and finality of hairloss is diminishing and there is hope that in the future, the hair won't be affected at all. Fingers crossed!

Caps / Coverings: other words for Bandanas as covered in our 'B' post, caps and coverings can be a great go-to for keeping things hidden. Even if you are used to your hairloss and are happy to expose it, caps and coverings are a great way of keeping toasty warm, accessorising and outfit or keeping the sun off your head!

Caring: if you let them, in my experience people will be really caring about you and your hairloss. A mistake I frequently made was feeling guilty about being upset and so I kept shutting people out and bottling it up which wasn't good for me, or for those around me! People will be caring, you just have to decide to let them! 

Cause: fairly self-explanatory this one, but cause is a huge factor in any hairloss experience! I remember thinking 'but I don't understand what causes it!' A large part of your experience will centre on causes and of course then the cure. What you may have to accept is that the cause may be unclear - they can give you a label e.g. Alopecia Areata or Trichotillomania, but that doesn't necessarily mean the 'cause' will be clear. 

Challenge: Losing my hair was probably the single biggest challenge I have ever had to face, but on the plus side it's a challenge that I won! Now I am working to challenge perceptions and help others beat that challenge!

Changes: Inevitably, if you are losing your hair - via whatever means - then you will be going through some changes. From physical changes to your appearance to changes to your general health and wellbeing, to adjustments in your emotional and mental state, changes are inevitable. It is definitely worth highlighting here that not all changes are for the worse - I and many others I know have had positives come out of their hairloss and definite changes for the better! 

Charity: If you are having difficulty handling your hairloss, seek out a Charity. National charities exist to support sufferers for example Alopecia UK, Macmillan etc. who can provide advice and support and signpost to experts to give you the help you need. They also appreciate people fundraising for them if you get a chance! 😉

Cheated: This was a huge 'problem' for me and many others I know. As your hair falls out and you struggle to deal with it, many people highlight how they feel 'cheated' by their body and struggle not to feel angry with themselves. The good news is that this feeling passes and hopefully will be a temporary status rather than a permanent reality! 

Chemotherapy: one of the most common treatments for cancer, chemotherapy uses chemicals to permanently damage cancerous cells so that they can't reproduce. Unfortunately, side-effects include damage to other healthy tissues, including hair follicles, resulting in hairloss.

Children: Children is included for two reasons:

First, people often fear telling or showing children their hairloss, more so than showing an adult. Children are known for getting to the heart of things, saying it like it is and not censoring what comes out of their mouths. Somehow, that makes them scarier than adults, somehow increasing the likelihood that our fears we are less attractive, less valuable or something else entirely. We hope that their adult counterparts will be less honest and better at hiding negative feelings, leaving us intact. I can't speak about all children, but you can read about one of my experiences here...

Second, whilst hairloss is terrifying and somewhat devastating at every stage of life, but somehow, despite their resilience, it seems ten times worse when a child goes through it. It breaks my heart every time I see it, but I admire there general acceptance of it too!

Cicatricial Alopecia: the scientific name for scarring Alopecia, it includes traction Alopecia and Alopecia from any scarring. 

Cold-Cap / Scalp-Cooling / Cryotherapy: a relatively new treatment, the cold-cap is one of the aforementioned ways do reducing the likelihood of total hairloss from the scalp. It involves the patient encasing their scalp in a cooling ice-pack, reducing the size of the blood vessels and therefore the amount of chemotherapy drugs which reach the hair follicles. As a result, less hair falls out and many cancer patients are managing to keep large amounts of hair. The downsides are that it doesn't work with all chemotherapy drugs and it only works where applied, so eyelashes, eyebrows and body hair will still shed. Macmillan has more details on it here...

Comments: when you are bald or balding, comments can be expected and often unappreciated. From stating the obvious to striking up a conversation, to frankly being downright hurtful, there's not a baldie I know who has been completely without commentary! There's not much to say here - it's on a case by case basis and you'll have to handle it as best you can when it happens. Not everything will be bad though; just remember that!

Confidence: I'd love to say hairloss has no significant effects, but it's likely that it will impact your confidence in some way. It could be a little or a lot depending on your personality, support network, attitude and general attachment to your hair. You need to accept that this will happen; you are not weak, worthless, shallow or anything else negative you might think about yourself - it is completely understandable and acceptable. Work through this, deal with it your way and try to remember not to let your hairloss beat you - don't let it change who you are or what you do. I really and truly appreciate this is easier said than done, however it's something I worked hard at and now if anything, I am more, not less confident than I was before!

Corticosteroids: more commonly referred to as steroids, corticosteroids are often used in the treatment of a number of hairloss and / or auto-immune conditions. They can be taken orally, injected or applied as a topical cream or lotion and have anti-inflammatory properties. They are used to help suppress the immuno-response, thereby enabling short-term and sometimes permanent regrowth.

Cure: A natural progression from 'cause', cures are one of the primary things that people pursue, providing a focus for anxiety, mental challenges or even an end point. Cures are a good thing to understand and appreciate, but pursue with caution; sometimes the side-effects can be as bad or worse than the hairloss and many have limited or questionable results. Pursuit of them can also become an obsession so take care that this doesn't become more damaging to your psyche. Sit down with a trained expert  question what they tell you so you fully understand the implications, then give yourself time to consider everything - is it really what you want? 

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Saturday, 15 August 2015

And the Gloucestershire Business Awards Finalists are...

As many of you may have realised, I live and work in Gloucestershire in the South West of the UK, and whilst I have ambition to raise awareness of hairloss across the UK (with some other lovely gents and ladies), I'm also trying to stick my head above the parapet in my local area too!

Anyway, I'm proud to announce that the finalists for the Gloucestershire Business Awards have been decided and that Pretty Bald, together with apt marketing & pr has become a finalist for the “Best Marketing Campaign” category thanks to the success of the Pretty Bald Alopecia Awareness Calendar! Entering these awards is just one way of raising awareness, and even if we don't win, the business and the cause will benefit from local press coverage, as well as greater awareness in the community. Hopefully this will translate into better awareness of hairloss and importantly, more fundraising.

The Gloucestershire Business Awards are a prestigious local event and encourage businesses all over the Gloucestershire county to come together and celebrate their growth and achievements. The annual award ceremony is now in its eighteenth year and Pretty Bald was one of 134 businesses who entered across all the awards categories. We're delighted to be one of four finalists in the “Best Marketing Campaign” category and wish the best of luck to our fellow finalists BAM agency, Barrington Ayre Shirtmaker and Tailor, and Rock the Cotswolds!

The awards will be held at the Cheltenham Racecourse in October with a fancy three course meal and awards presentation... any excuse to buy a new dress and maybe even a new wig!

It’s so exciting! Fingers crossed!

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Meet Katie, our Pretty Bald Calendar 'Miss August'

As you know, the Pretty Bald Calendar simply wouldn't have been possible without the agreement of eleven other ladies to get involved! That's why, each month we share the story of one of these brave ladies..

So, without further ado, say hello to Katie, our 'Miss August'...

Katie was 18 when she lost all of her hair, the process having started just weeks before her 18th birthday. Nevertheless, Katie tried not to let her hairloss prohibit her life; she went to University with her first wig although she had only been wearing it for a month.

During the next two years Katie’s confidence slipped gradually and by the time she joined Alopecia UK her self-belief and love of her looks were at an all time low. Getting involved with Alopecia UK however enabled Katie to build herself back up again to her former self.

The Calendar Girls Pretty Bald venture facilitated Katie to embrace who she was and the condition she was suffering from. Now she is a firm believer that “Beauty comes in many forms and being bald...well, it’s Pretty Beautiful too.”






To find out more about Katie and her story click here.

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Saturday, 8 August 2015

A hectic trip to Glasgow; filming BBC Quiz Show Eggheads

For those avid readers of this blog, you may have spotted that I've had my fingers crossed for a top secret project in Glasgow to go ahead. Well eventually the news that we were waiting for arrived! It was happening! We were all set, our trains were booked and less than a week after that fateful phone call, a team of fellow alopecians and I filmed the BBC Quiz Show Eggheads! Yes really!

Five other lovely ladies and I travelled up to Glasgow on August 7th to face the Eggheads team on National TV; needless to say we were all scared about what could happen. It started (for me at least) with a six and a half hour train journey as apparently all the episodes are filmed in Glasgow - not that you'd know it! After a very late night arrival and a mix up with the bedrooms at the hotel, we slept, and just five hours later we were in the taxi destined for the studio for a very early 7am start!

Something you may or may not know about filming a programme is the complexities of your outfit. From washing you out, to strobing on screen, there are a whole host of outfits that you can't wear on TV. Trust me, two pages of clothing 'rules' later and my required four outfits had morphed into ten in a rather large suitcase. You think I am joking, but only two things in my entire wardrobe are unpatterned, bright, not strappy, didn't have stripes, aren't dark and aren't floaty or lacy. Instead, I had to take ten 'nearly right' outfits for them to choose from, just in case!

Thankfully, after we arrived, the wardrobe team found an outfit they liked and I was able to go on set fully clothed! We had our make-up done too, which was a blessing at that time of the morning, not to mention the fact that my make-up artist created perhaps the most perfect set of eyebrows I've ever had, even before they fell out! Kudos!

Sporting perfect eyebrows before appearing on Eggheads
Once we were ready, we were guided to the studio to film as the first team of the day and seated in our team 'order'. This is where we would sit for the whole show and at this point we were all experiencing elation, nerves, a mildly sick feeling, masses of excitement and a million things besides. It felt like we'd done it - we'd made it to the show after a mammoth amount of organisation and somehow that felt like the hard bit was over. At least at that very second it did. Then... in walked Jeremy Vine and our five challenger eggheads and we realised, nope, the hard bit was still to come!

We competed under the team name ‘A Clearer Head’, although perhaps we should have called ourselves ‘The Real Eggheads’, and our main reason for going on the show was to help raise awareness of alopecia. You can't deny a team of mad, excitable, bald women on National TV is certainly going to make a splash. 

Just before filming - getting ready to take on the Eggheads

Feeling important! 
My badge - never thought I'd have one of these...
I was surprised by how much time goes into filming a 30 minute episode. It takes a long time (about four hours) and even then we went over schedule because we chatted so much! It astonished us how many people there were on set who all had jobs to do; there was even a lady from wardrobe with the title ‘Badge Straightener’ just to ensure our name badges were level on screen! Anyway, as usual, I digress and I'm sure you're dying to know what happened and how much we were playing for!

Before we got to filming, we of course did some research and discovered that as of February 2015, the Eggheads had only been defeated 122 times out of 1359 attempts; this thought didn’t fill us with much confidence, but still, awareness was key and it was still worth a shot! Even better if we could win some money for Alopecia UK - fingers crossed, but we didn't hold out much hope!

At this stage, I am not allowed to tell you either how much we played for (it will give away whether other teams win or not) and nor am I allowed to tell you if we won for the same reason - #SpoilerAlert'! Needless to say though we left with a feeling of Mission Accomplished with an episode in the bag putting Alopecia front and centre on National TV. What's more, it was great to meet the team - Jeremy Vine is totally awesome, really intelligent and interesting. The eggheads aren't half bad either and despite a cool, superior facade on TV, they are actually bubbly, friendly and welcoming! A delight!

There is nothing much more I can say. We don't yet know when the episode will air, but as soon as we do, I'll of course let everyone know! 

One more thing worth a mention before I sign off this post. Just before the train, and to finish off our long day (at lunchtime) we went to a fish and chip shop where we met an alien. Spotting a fellow 'baldie' was the icing on the cake and I couldn't resist taking this photo - possibly my favourite! Who would have thought we’d spot an alien in a fish and chip show in Glasgow?

My new friend... I shall call him Bald Bill
I think it’s safe to say all of the girls and I were awed by how fantastic everyone was and we would definitely re-live the experience if we had the chance. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the whole cast and crew of Eggheads, from the makeup artists who made us feel very glamorous to the actual team, for being very hospitable and making us feel so welcome. A mention must also go to the show producers 12 Yard Productions for helping make it all happen! We all had an absolute blast!

In the meantime, you can keep your fingers crossed we won and I'll keep you posted when you'll be able to spot the episode...! 

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Screw being normal

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald... My Twitter: @baldguyproblemz

If you haven't seen my other blogs, check them out, my last one: 
http://prettybaldonline.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/different-experiences.html

The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.” - Albert Einstein 


If someone said to you 'Hey, would you like to be the same as everyone else?'... I doubt many of you would go 'Yeah sure'.


Being different... I'm very sure when people strive to be different, they don't wish for alopecia but we do know that many people want to stand out from the crowd. Who wants to be the same? Why would you want to blend into the crowd? For example, being a nice person often makes you stand out, being another sheep in the herd is dull and undesirable.


Although alopecia obviously makes you different, it isn't a choice... I think it is an extremely testing condition which really puts your character to the test, especially as in many circles hair can be very significant... 

A spiritual leader named Yogi Bhajan once said “Our hair fashions might be just a trend, but if we investigate, we may find that we have been depriving ourselves of one of the most valuable sources of energy for human vitality. This is regarding the belief that you should not cut your hair in some cultures. Take that as you will but largely, losing your hair is a big deal... It's not 'just hair'.


Male patterned baldness is a slightly different kettle of fish but the principle of a bald head is the same; one evolutionary theory proposed by C Jackson is that a 'well-polished' (like mine) bald male head was often used by tribes of cavemen to blind predators. As a result every cavemen hunting group of 8 had one bald member, and thus thousands of years later 1 in 8 men experience early on set of baldness. This is a crude and perhaps entertaining theory but still deserves some credit- being bald isn't all bad ;) 


However, in a more serious tone, I think losing your hair through alopecia helps give you access to some feelings which ordinary people can find hard to feel, like Rachel in my last post, she claims alopecia improved her life! I do truly think that alopecia has the potential to improve a person, make them stronger and perhaps help them discover what is really important in life. 


Joe Dokes from Chicago, USA provides a point of view that I agree with deeply:


"Baldness is a gift from nature. Once you begin to lose hair, you realize you are ageing and that nothing about you is forever. You are not here for admiring yourself in the mirror but for changing this world. Therefore you'll become wiser and death won't make you worry."


This to an extent backs up my point, losing your hair can be a tool to really improve your life. This may seem like an impossible or improbable outcome to some of you but I would again like to use Rachel as an example of someone in their last stage of alopecia- self acceptance. 


This is not to say that others without alopecia cannot achieve this but I'll I use an analogy to help explain. Say a wall for example has several coats of paint on it, to reach the raw wall, and actually see what it truly looks like, what it's made of, the paint has to be sanded off- if we replace the wall for YOU and the paint for HAIR and the sand paper for ALOPECIA, you can see what I mean about it helping you to find yourself. 


Following on from this, I think what is important in life in general is not to wish it away. It is easy to constantly look forward to the future or hope for better days/dream about an 'ideal life' but it is very important to enjoy the present. In this case we can relate it to alopecia, please do not waste all your energy on waiting for your hair to grow back so you can 'be happy again' because who needs hair to have fun?! Enjoy now, (that's why it's called the present). 


Alopecia doesn't define you


BP


Saturday, 1 August 2015

It's first of August and that can only mean...

...it's time to turn over that calendar page! Whoop whoop!

Pretty Bald Calendar - August 2015
As you may have spotted, this month features a somewhat seasonal picture of a summery Jacuzzi, with champagne, obviously!

In reality, this was the very first picture that was taken that day at 7am, and this was only the first glass! It was awkward, chilly, very splashy and an odd ice-breaker. In fact, I have to thank each of the girls in the tub with me for not bailing at this point and for helping me hold it together!

Miss August is the gorgeous Katie - one of the youngest on the shoot - and we'll catch up with her later in the month!

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Glasgow is a go...!

You may or may not have spotted my ramblings about Glasgow last week, highlighting my excitement at the prospect of a potential trip and asking you to keep your fingers crossed!

Well this is a very brief Sunday update for you, to let you know that I got the call today to say it will be going ahead! Yippee and thanks to all your lovelies for keeping everything crossed.

Unfortunately, I still can't reveal what is happening, and may not be able to for a while, but I can tell you it will be great awareness AND there's a great fundraising opportunity for Alopecia UK to boot! What could be better?

I promise I will keep you updated and share what I can, when I can!

Victoria x

Friday, 24 July 2015

Neighbours; everybody needs good Neighbours...

When I initially lost my hair, my default solution was a wig; I wanted one and I wanted one now! It was all about keeping my hairloss hidden, both from myself and from other people.

Over time, that attitude changed. I came to love myself, bald head and all, and the accepting response from friends and family made that all easier. Gradually, step-by-step, I got used to going around bald. First at the Alopecia UK Liverpool Flashmob, then at a Spa with my mum; step-by-step, balder and balder (see what I did there).

What this has culminated in is a 'totally what I feel like' approach to being bald. If I'm in the mood for a wig, or it compliments my outfit, then a wig I shall wear. If it's hot or I'm relaxed or perhaps just in the mood, then I don't wear a wig.

Before now, regardless of the mood, I always took a wig with me; partly out of habit, partly out of the desire for flexibility - much the same as if I'm wearing heels, you'll always find flip flops in my bag. Over the last few months, I have entered a new phase; where before I left the house on a bald day with a wig tucked in my bag, now I've taken to leaving without one at all, in part to save the condition of my wigs.

For me, meeting people bald falls into one of two categories:

  • Category A is meeting people in a fixed capacity for a period of time; I have the opportunity to explain to people, answer questions, stem querying looks and correct inaccuracies. For me, this is part of the educational and awareness approach I take to my hairloss and leaves people clear on the causes of it.
  • Category B represents situations where a meeting is transient or fleeting. The parcel delivery man at the door, someone who walks past me, other spa users - anyone I am unlikely to see ever again.
Over the last couple of months as my confidence has grown and I've left the house with no wig at all, I've come to the realisation that my neighbours fit into neither of these categories. I am on talking terms with my neighbours and they are actually really lovely, but at the same time, we have passing chats about recycling, parking and other neighbourly pursuits, not the in-depth discussions shared with friends! At this stage, not one of my neighbours has seen me bald; not because I covertly leave the house under cover and refuse to expose my head, but because as I've been leaving the house without a wig on, they just haven't been there! 

This morning, I looked like a madwoman; I left the house without a wig, hunched to avoid the rain, juggling all manner of bits and bobs in my hands and most oddly with a piece of toast and peanut butter shoved unceremoniously between my lips that I was trying to eat without hands. I leave my driveway and step onto the pavement not really concentrating and nearly bump into a smart young man in a suit, clutching an umbrella. He immediately apologises and I try to make a muffled apology through my slice of toast. Naturally, he does a double-take, although at the toast or the baldness I am not sure, his eyes lower and he hurries past me, clearly uncomfortable. I'm going to go with the baldness here.

To be honest, I'm not bothered, but what it has done is cause some of my original guilt to resurface. This man does not fit into Category A where I have dutifully explained my condition, but nor does he fit into Category B and I'll never see him again. Nope, instead I am at the centre of a situation where my neighbour from a few doors down, probably now thinks I have cancer, or potentially just thinks I am a mad-bald woman! Either way, it isn't an ideal solution and short of hunting him down and knocking on the door, it's a situation I am stuck with. In fact, highlighting the issue and trying to force a discussion could very much make it worse, so now it's just a situation I am stuck with! I'm sure I'll get over it soon enough though!

Victoria x 


www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Don't forget Factor 30 SPF sun cream...

I first appreciated the need for a high-factor sun cream last year during the photo shoot for the Pretty Bald Calendar, as did every other lady on the shoot for that matter! We're all pretty intelligent, we all bought sun cream with us, yet in the excitement and nerves of being nude, outside in the middle of June, we all forgot to apply any at all! A major error on a warm summer day in June! The result? A series of heavily burned, red scalps, similar in colour to a tomato, later to peel in large patches as we all lamented our lack of caution! 

I know I'm stating the obvious, but the more regular sun-exposure your skin gets, the more its own Melanin protection kicks in, lightly tanning the skin and preventing serious burns. As you'd expect, your scalp, which has likely spent many years covered in a thick mop of hair, it is a little more sensitive than most, particularly if you opt for regular wig wear too! Obviously the longer you've been without hair and the more it sees small doses of the sun, the less sensitive it becomes, but that does not mean it'll ever have the tolerance of the rest of your skin.

What this means is a need to select and regularly apply a sun cream with a good SPF. Ideally you should buy a new one each year to ensure it is still functional and useable and you should use it on your face, scalp and body. In fact, if your hairloss is the result of either Alopecia or Chemotherapy, then the body's own abilities to protect itself will be diminished and you are likely to need a higher factor than before, plus to apply it more regularly. Your body's natural defences will change and in many cases lessen, so the need for Factor 30 on your whole body will be higher.

One final point to make as I sit here in the garden enjoying the gorgeous weather, you can burn your scalp through wigs; granted it isn't significantly likely, but it does happen. It will of course depend on the design of the cap, but thin, flexible and uber-natural lace can be incredibly thin and if your parting used to burn before you lost your hair, it is likely to burn through lace too! 

I'm not trying to patronise you with this post; merely encouraging you to learn from my own lesson - sunburn on the scalp is the single most painful sun damage I've done and even sleeping on a pillow is excruciating! 

Happy sunbathing!

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Monday, 20 July 2015

Enjoying mum's new convertible...

'How does it feel to become a middle-age stereotype' my brother asked my mum as she entered the driveway with her new BMW convertible. 'Fantastic' she replied without hesitation! Later that day, my brother understood exactly what she meant as they soared along the motorway with the top down...!

I on the other hand had a slightly more reserved consideration. There are times when I opt for a wig as a mainstay to my outfit. Meetings with potential or new clients, times where it simply matches my outfit and moments when I don't have sun cream to hand and require additional protection. All of these factors left me with one mild worry - how would my wig fare in a top-down convertible?!

In my mind, I had visions of travelling with the top down, minding my own business, then watching in horror as my wig behaved like a flying squirrel, to land on the windscreen of the following car! A few months ago, you may have spotted my post on wigs in the wind, putting it to the test in gale force gusts (video below) so what's my worry about  being in a car with the top down? Well it's simple - unlike blustery weather, the breeze generated by a car is constant - it is a constant speed in a constant direction, not letting up for anything. I was worried that the constant pressure would be too much on the wig, on the fitting and off it would go.

There was only one thing for it; to put my trusty Codi to the test and see how it fares...

Watch the video below to find out what happened!

With the top-down:



Earlier this year on a blustery day:



Just to say, this video is shot with a Codi synthetic wig, properly adjusted with zero glue or tape. I would have proved these factors, but I didn't trust myself in a moving car!

Anyone else put their wig to the test with the top down?

Victoria x

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Hair Regrowth in Sunshine; an update from yesterday's post...

So yesterday, I posted an update about the strange link between sunshine and hair regrowth...

Almost immediately after I had posted it, the lovely Angie Reilly responded on Twitter and said:
First off, see I told you it wasn't just me. Second, a good conversation ensued and Angie made an couple of excellent points.

Her first was that Alopecia couldn't be linked to Vitamin D / sunshine, otherwise there would be no Alopecia in hot countries:
Her second was the confirmation that like mine and many others, the initial hair regrowth is blonde / white, which apparently is completely 'normal' (for want of a better word.
I just wanted to share this with you, both so that you can see I'm not the only one, and also because I love these kind of conversations on Twitter!

Happy Sunday!

Victoria x
 
www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Saturday, 18 July 2015

My very own solar panel...

There's hugely conflicting information out there about suncare; from the assertion we need SPF protection year-round to the news that there's a growing trend of Vitamin D Deficiency because we're too diligently avoiding the sun! 

I'm neither a scientist nor a skin cancer specialist, but one thing I believe is that the old adage 'everything in moderation' is probably very apt - we need some sun to keep our bones healthy, our body balanced and our immune system on course, but literally cooking our skin cannot be good for us, no matter what some people say to themselves.

Since losing my hair, I've had little, if any hair regrowth; last summer however something happened. Myself and a couple of others I know with Alopecia Universalis started to see small amounts of downy regrowth on our scalps. Not much, but a little and it was noticeable enough that we each commented on it and then discussed it in detail. There were a few things in common; the hair grew in patches, the shafts were soft, downy and blonde and none of us had experienced noticeable regrowth since we'd lost it fully. What's more, in each case, the growth was finite; the hairs themselves didn't get any longer and the patches didn't get any bigger. To this day, none of us are sure what was so special about last summer!

At the end of the summer, we all lost the hair again and other than the odd shaft I've not seen any regrowth. Again this year, I've been back out in the sun, and low and behold, I'm regaining the same patches, only this time they're coming back brown! The only difference is that where last year direct sunlight on my scalp was few and far between, this year, I've been walking my dogs every morning completely bareheaded.

What the sun gives you is a little endorphins, a dose of Vitamin D (which in turns helps the absorption of calcium) and probably more than a little bit of relaxation. Potentially, just one of these things (or maybe all of them combined) is supporting the follicular regrowth in each case.

As you've probably gathered by now, I am not actively pursuing hair regrowth; I'm happy bald, I like and enjoy it, and pining for it to come back seems a waste of energy, mental capacity and a whole heap too much worrying! Still, I do find any sign of regrowth interesting and do like to research what could be causing it.

Something that has come up consistently when discussing general health with other alopecia sufferers is a Vitamin D deficiency; I have suffered from it and have met a high number of others that have too. Perhaps the sunlight is upping my natural levels of Vitamin D and allowing my body space to heal a bit?! Unfortunately, despite the obvious commonalities, the tests by the Doctor following my hairloss did reveal a Vitamin D deficiency, yet plenty of sunlight and Vitamin D supplements for seven months reverted my levels to the high-end of normal, yet there was no regrowth at all. Similarly, at the end of a holiday in the sun, my hair hasn't shown sign of regrowing, despite the sun and relaxation.

At the end of it all, there seems to be nothing definitive about either my behaviour or environment which is clearly linked to this random regrowth and shedding; nothing I can pass on for people to try out! In the meantime, I like to think of my bald head as my very own solar panel; gaining a little extra sun exposure in small doses, and helping the natural production of Vitamin D which maintains natural levels and keeps me healthy!

Anyone else notice any summer regrowth?

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Friday, 17 July 2015

Hairloss Side Effects: Blackheads...

This is not something I would EVER have expected to deal with when I was first losing my hair, but body blackheads have become a reality for me and a few others I know...

I've always had oily skin and blackheads on my face have been a constant battle! They've been kept in check though by a good cleansing routine and a facial once in a while, keeping my skin relatively clear. Roll forward to Alopecia however and they've spread, not because of oily skin, simply because of extra opportunity. In fact, as part of my Alopecia, my immune system also attacks and affects my skin and nails, and has dried my skin right out, leaving me frantically moisturising rather than trying to neutralise excess oil!

Anyway, as normal I digress - back to the kind of gross topic of my blackheads! (Sorry folks)...

At the top of my arms, my skin is no longer silky smooth as it should be, but instead is rough to the touch with lots of little tiny blackheads putting in an appearance. When I first noticed this, a few months after my body hair fell out, I was wearing a long, curly, synthetic wig; I assumed that the synthetic fibres were retaining dirt and grease and this was blocking the pores in my skin. I exfoliated regularly which helped stay on top of them and I took to washing my wigs more regularly. It didn't help. A switch to a short wig (my favourite bob) which doesn't even skim my shoulders and it soon put paid to that theory.

That of course triggered some research and what I found was really interesting; contrary to my belief that these were normal blackheads, they weren't. Where normal blackheads are a result of high-levels of sebaceous excretion which block the pores, the 'blackheads' on my arms are in fact blocked hair follicles. Normally, the hair shaft grows from the follicle and as it does, the sebaceous glands produce a lubricant, helping the hair to grow out; as no hair grows anymore, the dirt and debris is not pushed out of the follicle and so it blocks, leaving a small blackhead and a rough texture.

Now, it isn't all bad though, a good pair of exfoliating gloves gets rid of the problem fairly quick, certainly far quicker than an actual blackhead. It's the exact reason that you need to regularly scrub or at least cleanse your body, as well as your bare scalp, helping ensure you're doing the work that your hair would normally do!

Anyone else have this problem?

Not to be too gross, but I did try to take a picture to show you what I mean (I'll be exfoliating tomorrow), but they're way too tiny to see on a camera. I guess that does put things in perspective and highlight how little effect they actually have - it's more that the rough texture annoys me and seeing them when I peer ultra closely!

That's it for now!

Victoria x

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Packing / Suitcases

Once upon a time, I used to be a terrible packer, squeezing in everything I could in fear that I would forget something! Then I grew up and become far more blasé, turning into a last minute, late packer with a more casual 'oh well' attitude to the idea of forgetting something - I can always buy it nearby...

Along came alopecia and my packing style changed again; granted, I'm still last minute and I still pack fairly light in terms of quantity of clothes, yet somehow, the average size of my suitcase has doubled! Why I hear you ask? Simply because of my wigs!

As you've probably gathered by now, my wigs are an accessory rather than a necessity, something to enhance my look or outfit, rather than something I NEED to wear. Each person will be different here, but one thing is certain - whatever the reason for wearing wigs, I won't go on holiday without them, in just the same way I won't leave without flip flops, sunglasses or handbags. I want the flexibility of wearing a long sundress with a curly wig, then a pair or shorts and strappy top with a bob. What's more, there's a sun protection angle too - without hair, only kiddie's hats are a good fit on my head (and tend to have some off-putting childish design or feature) leaving me with a very real need for wigs in the sun! Yes, my scalp does get some sun exposure, but it's sensitive too, so can't handle too much!

Anyway, back to the suitcase - the addition of a protective box, along with a portable wig stand, tangle tamer, several wigs and all the associated paraphernalia, and my suitcase has gone from small and neat to big and bulky. My boyfriend moans about it - I look like the woman that can't pack light - I crash it into everything, and it takes up just that bit more space in the boot! It also means I'm lugging a big bag around alongside other people's neat ones (just like at the hen party) and I find it pretty annoying!

In the grand scheme of things, nothing is going to change this - I've bought the smallest items I can. pack them as neatly as possible, but short of finding a replacement / suitable hat and making a huge decision to spend an entire holiday bald, there's not much choice left!

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Machine-washable...

Sometimes in life, I become attached to an idea or sentiment which I like and which I just cannot get out of my head! Every once in a while, that same idea relates to me and my bald head... You can see where I am going with this!

Anyway, as you may have noticed from my 'Sorry I've been absent' post, life has been pretty busy, one activity which has been drawing my attention has been a 'surprise' redecoration of my parents living room, while my mum was on holiday. As an aside, the '60-minute makeover' I had in my head turned into a two-week one and my mum was 'surprised' by a half-decorated room, but as I keep telling her, it is the thought that counts! It's nearly done now, but I grossly underestimated the time frame!

Anyway, I digress! Back to it!

Picture this, there I am balanced on a ladder in paint splattered clothes, trying to neatly 'cut-in' a bright turquoise for the feature wall, next to a brilliant white wall and a brilliant white ceiling. Much as I want them to be skills of mine, both neat edges and the ability to balance on a ladder sometimes elude me, leaving me with a pristine vision and a slightly less than perfect reality.

As I step onto the top rung of the ladder, it feels a little high and whilst I'm pretty happy up there at the top, I know in reality, I'm likely to stretch just that little bit too far and end up on the floor! Anyway, there I am painstakingly painting a thick teal line and I notice, my head is naturally resting against the ceiling, acting as a stabiliser for me up on my new perch.

I didn't think too much about it then, but two days later I met up with a friend who has a baby, and during dinner time, I had a handful of some tomato-based purée chucked in my general direction, much of it landing around my face and head. I laughed and so did she and then I casually wiped the concoction off my cranium. At this point, my friend looked at me with a SLIGHT glint of envy and said "God that's so easy. You're like the perfect human - baby-proof and wipe-clean without the hassle of a shower and shampoo". I have to say I could not stop laughing! The idea that my head has a better baby-proof 'design' than a normal one, simply because I'm hair and hassle-free! Perhaps if you look at the bottom of my foot or on one bum cheek, I'll have a little tiny label which says "Wipe-clean and machine-washable; do not tumbledry".

I know this is random, but since then, I've been seeing this as an advantage here, there and everywhere - from a lack of paint in my hair to my natural baby-proofing, there are also advantages at a mud-run, in the rain, out gardening and I'm sure many others too! I wanted to share this post with you not because it is in any way serious, but because it tickled me and I hope it will tickle you too!

I'd love your suggestions on your 'wipe-clean' situations, so please feel free to share them with me!

Victoria x

Monday, 13 July 2015

Fingers crossed for Glasgow...

Other than a holiday, I never thought I'd get the opportunity to go to Glasgow! Oh I'm sure I'd get there at some point, but with Norway, Iceland, Scicily and Croatia just a few on my travel wish list, it was unlikely to happen anytime soon!

That is, until I got an email from the talented Author Sue Hampton, passionate activist and campaigner for Alopecia awareness. Sue is also a trustee for Alopecia UK and you'll often see her sporting zany trousers and huge earrings at one of their events!

Now at the moment, the contents of the email and the reason for a potential trip to Glasgow must remain Top Secret! Needless to say though, if it comes off, it will be great nationwide awareness for Alopecia and there'll be a fundraising opportunity for Alopecia UK to boot too!

I hate not being able to share it with you, but equally I don't want to and can't give it away, but right now, what I really need is for everyone to keep everything crossed that we'll make it to Glasgow!

In the meantime, you might enjoy this post about raising awareness and as soon as I can reveal all, I promise I will! 

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Handling a hen party...

First, I need to thank you for your patience and apologise for being so absent! I've had some lovely emails while I've been away and have enjoyed what people have shared!

As you may have seen in my 'I'll be back soon' post, I've been to all four corners of the UK and have been doing all sorts of things! One of those was a hen party for a lovely lady who I dub my 'Sister' although we aren't related and who I will be a bridesmaid for later this year. As often happens when you don't live close together, I know very few (actually just two) of her friends and so I was embarking on a weekend away with lots of ladies I don't know, haven't met and won't see again until the wedding.

Like me, my friend Meg is very open and so when I appeared in Cosmopolitan, she proudly flashed it around, showing her friends and telling them about me! I was very touched, but what it did mean was that they had an expectation of me, and I had none about them. For the second time this year, I got into my car, hopped onto the M5 motorway and aimed towards Alton Towers. Alas, a car fire caused huge delays and I arrived hours after everyone else, making it even more daunting walking into the group.

Everyone was fabulously friendly and I was rocking one of my favourite wigs so my confidence was fine; I blended with the group, spent a lovely day in the park and then headed back to the 'Enchanted Woodland' house we'd rented (which are beautiful if you get the chance to try one), including a private deck and hot tub. Despite my general lack of body hair - super smooth legs for example - this was the bit I was dreading. As you know, I'm not unhappy with being bald, but what I am conscious of is making other people uncomfortable when I don't need to. For me, a wig isn't about hiding something, but it is about being considerate and not forcing myself and my situation on those who didn't ask for it! So, back to the hot tub - a decision between a wet wig and going bald in front of a group of girls I've only just met! That decided it - I won't make others feel uncomfortable, so I'm into the bikini and into the hot tub, wig and all.

Meg comes out, takes one look at me and says 'Get. It. Off'. Not that she was applying pressure - it was caring actually - but I was quick to explain I didn't want other people to be uncomfortable. Cue the silence and some odd looks as if the ladies had no idea what I was talking about or worrying about for that matter.

As you might have gathered from this blog, I'm not exactly shy, so for me, this was pretty reserved. I took one look at the faces and in that minute I knew - I was being an idiot and making it more not less uncomfortable by being so awkward! Off came the wig onto the deck and then I relaxed - a hot tub, some fabulous girls and the ability to be myself.

From that point of the evening on, I minced around the house with no wig on and they didn't blink! It was liberating and was great to know that most people couldn't care less - genuinely they don't give it a second thought. How fabulous!

Before now, my three main 'types' of experience of being bald have been:
  1. Being amongst family, friends and colleagues that know and like / love me, where a lack of hair changes nothing
  2. Being bald with other baldies, in public or in private where I'm not 'the odd one out' so it's a moot point
  3. Being bald on my own in situations where I neither know nor worry about their thoughts or feelings because frankly, I'm hardly likely to see them again!
For me, this hen party was a first - people I don't know, but also don't want to upset and most importantly will see again in the not too distant future! A potent combination where I was truly keen to do the 'right' or 'best' thing for the scenario! Stupid really and I realise that I had unfairly judged and negatively assumed wrong about this lovely group of ladies!

I guess the moral to this story is easy - we spend too much time worrying about others and actually, it makes us act differently to the way we should or really want to. At every stage, people have suprised me and actually I should know by now just to be myself!

As I reread this before posting, there is one thing that strikes me - despite my love of being bald and my confidence in my own looks, I do still care about other people and worry about what they think and how I make them feel. Something more for me to ponder at some stage - what is the right balance?!

A not too great picture of me in the hot tub!
Hope you enjoyed my first post in a while! I should stay on track now and be back filling your feeds and inboxes on a regular basis!

Big love and thank you!

Victoria x

www.prettybald.co.uk Twitter: @PrettyBald