I’ve had Alopecia for over twenty years now. And let me tell you, its been quite a journey. While it is the easiest of the auto immune diseases out there, one can’t dismiss the emotional distress that comes along with it. For quite some time I wore a wig. It was awful, to put it lightly. Over ten years ago I decided to ditch the wig. I realized it would be a battle because everyone has their own ideas of what a woman should look like. At one point in my career a customer asked me “do you stand up or sit down when you take a piss?” Some thought I was a lesbian. Others thought I was in a cult. I didn’t realize how many stereotypes existed for bald women!!
For a long time I had to keep explaining to people what Alopecia was because they thought I might have cancer. I cannot tell you the amount of people have stopped me on the street, interrupt my dinner at a restaurant or ask me at work about cancer. It is so difficult to sit and listen to a woman tell you about her battle (and triumph) over it and knowing you have to tell her you don’t have cancer. The reaction is the same, utter mortification or sincerest apologies.
Years ago I bit my tongue and tried to stay polite, and not interrupt these people from telling me their stories because I know they were doing it out of the goodness of their heart OR they really felt the need to express their feelings about cancer. And I am still very polite to people like this. But over the years I’ve thought about it and wondered how I would feel if I did have cancer, and had to listen to these people. Maybe I would be out to dinner trying NOT to think about cancer and then they would come by and remind me about it.
It is amazing to me how many people are so unafraid to approach a complete stranger and talk to them about such personal things. I could never do it! It’s one thing if you like my glasses, but its another to make an assumption about my health, based on my looks and then approach with questions or a statement.
‘Tis a crazy world!