The other day I mentioned to a friend that my hair was starting to fall out a little bit (a side effect of the chemo drug I’m taking for my RA). With well-meaning cheerfulness, she quickly responded, “Well, you have enough of it!”. Yeah. I know. That’s kind of the point.
Like many women, I spent a long time admiring other women’s hair. Always wishing for either straighter or curlier, and bemoaning what I considered limp lifeless waves. And then a funny thing happened: I was staying over Vin’s house in Brighton (where he lived with several of his guy friends at the time), and while we were getting ready to go out my hairdryer died. Doing my best to avoid a meltdown, I rummaged through the bathroom before settling on some cheap hair gel. I “scrunched” it in my hair the way I watched my sister, Lexi do so many times and headed downstairs. One by one the guys remarked “Did you do something different with your hair? I like it”.
Over time I stopped fighting what my hair wanted to do naturally and learned to embrace the waves with gels, mousses, and hairsprays until eventually, I found the right combo of products. Before long one of my little cousins even told me that I had “mermaid hair”.
Now my hair is almost always wavy. Effortless, beachy mermaid waves. It’s healthier than it’s ever been and I get a lot of compliments on it. Even, Vin, who rarely comments on anything specific, says ” I love your big crazy hair”.
So losing even a few clumps of it feels like I’m losing part of who I am. Part of me that I love, and part of the way I define my own femininity and beauty. So to have someone brush it off so casually, even if well intentioned, dismisses and diminishes that loss.
Thankfully I have people in my life who get what that loss means to me. A few days after learning that I was going back on Methotrexate, my friend Katherine picked me up for a drive. We drove aimlessly with our iced coffees while I freaked out “I don’t want to lose my hair like last time. I don’t want to go through the exercise of cutting it shorter and shorter to make it look fuller”. Her response? “Girl, you’re not cutting anything. We’ll get you a really good weave!”.