So yesterday, I posted an update on Christoph Soeder's photography project "Faces Unfading" and as well as taking part myself, I also got the loveliest email from a lady called Sally, who also participated in the project!
Sally is leader of the Alopecia UK Bath, Bristol and Wiltshire support group. She started off by saying "I bought this years calendar and was stunned by the bravery of the women who took part. It encouraged me to have my photo taken without my wig or scarf for the first time as part of Christoph Soeder's degree project". So she did it! As well as being chuffed that our calendar project inspired Sally to become a #BaldHeadedBeauty, I'm even more chuffed that she's asked to share her story through the Pretty Bald blog. Here goes...
My journey from hair to bald
As a child growing up I had a love hate relationship with my hair. I loved that it was long and thick, I loved my mum brushing it until it shone or plaiting it overnight, so it fell in soft curls when undone in the morning; but I hated that it was so heavy it wouldn't stay curly or stay in a ponytail or bun. I hated that my nicknames were carrot or ginger because of its colour.
In my teens the colour softened to a rich coppery gold; it became my crowning glory.
In my 20s I abused it the way that all young women do, perms, colours, 80s weird haircuts.
In my 30s I loved it again, styled in bouncy bob cuts that shone with natural highlights in the summer.
In my 40s I started to lose it – just a small patch about the size of a 10p coin which grew back; then another, then a bigger patch. The doctor and hairdresser said not to worry, worrying makes it worse. For 15 years I spent a fortune on creams, shampoos and pills to make it grow – but nothing worked for long and when it did grow back it was pure white. So hair dye became my best friend. Life became a constant struggle to hide the bald bits. I felt at war with my hair.
In my 50s my body hair started to go and I knew I was starting the slide into total hair loss. I felt my body had betrayed me, I felt like a freak. When I lost my pubic hair, I no longer felt like a woman. I was an alien, something not quite human. My self-confidence was shattered, but outside, to others I seemed strong and in control. I put a brave face on things, bought my first wig and fought back. Everyone said how strong I was, but inside I cried every day.
Now my wig is my armour, my route to normality. Taking it off is now the challenge. I take small steps. First at home, then in front of my closest friends, next in the privacy of a beauty salon, wearing a head scarf to do yoga, a swimming cap at the beach, the first photo wearing a scarf, the first photo bare headed.
Only one step left now – out in public. I know I will do it one day when I am ready. I plan to be with friends and other hairless women who will understand exactly what I feel.
What a touchingly honest story and one I know most of us can relate to! At the moment, we don't have a #BaldHeadedBeauty picture to share of Sally, but we're hoping that once Christoph's project has been exhibited, we'll be allowed to share one! In the meantime, here's Sally looking gorgeous in her wig...