While female hair loss is a topic that rarely gets talked about, the lack of understanding can lead to some awkward and potentially insensitive conversations for those going through it. But there are ways to broach the topic without causing offence. One of our campaign stars Beth Finlay tells us more ...
Women’s hair loss is not exactly an easy subject to talk about and as someone who’s suffered from Alopecia Areata for 10 years, I know this all too well. Whether you know someone going through it or you’ve experienced it yourself, expressing it to people can be difficult. When my hair started falling out at the age of 17, I was unbelievably embarrassed about it. I thought people would make fun of me, think I was weird and I also thought they would be disgusted by the fact some of my hair had fallen out. I spent years worrying if someone could see my bald patches or if they knew I was wearing a wig. Losing your hair as a woman can be soul destroying and it took me years to accept myself without hair because, let’s be honest, it just isn’t normalised in society. It’s a topic that isn’t talked about enough to enable women going through it to feel comfortable in their own skin. The thing is, studies show that fewer than 45% of women go through life with a full head of hair, so if it’s so common, why is it such a taboo subject?
We’re programmed to certain beauty standards and for women this often means having perfectly unattainable hair. From our Instagram feeds to movies and TV shows we’re constantly faced with the pressure to look a certain way. So when you lose your hair and you no longer represent what’s “feminine”, it can be hard to feel comfortable in your own skin. This can make many women (including myself) feel unattractive and unworthy. Where it’s normal and accepted for a man to have a shaved head, women with no hair are often mistaken for having a terminal illness or going through a nervous breakdown.
This social stigma surrounding women’s hair loss is part of the problem. I’ve been met with many comments about my hair (or lack of it) and often they come across as rude or uneducated on the topic. I’ve developed a thicker skin but it doesn’t mean the comments don’t hurt or upset me. Society as a whole has a lack of understanding on the topic because it’s rarely talked about, so in order to teach people about it we must open the conversation.
If you’re unsure how to talk to someone about their hair loss, I’ve outlined some ways of asking or discussing it without causing offence. Be empathetic and understanding but rather than offering up advice, take an opportunity to get educated.
Ways to ask women about their hair loss:
- I love your shaved head! What made you decide to do it?
- You really suit a shaved head, do you mind if I ask you about why you chose to do it?
- I know someone who has experienced hair loss and I just want to say you’re amazing
- Do you mind if I ask about your hair loss and how it happened?
- Could you tell me about your hair loss?
What NOT to say:
- Do you have cancer?
- Are you suffering from a terminal illness?
- What’s wrong with you?
- Are you having some sort of breakdown?
- Maybe you should try not to get so stressed?
- Are you wearing a wig…?
- I can’t think of anything worse than losing my hair
- Maybe it’s your diet...
Click here to learn more about our campaign and watch our groundbreaking film It’s Not Just Hair.