Sunday, April 14, 2024

Surviving Hair Loss.

January 31, 2020 by  
Filed under Health & Wellness, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( My grandmother used to say a woman’s hair is her glory. Most of the little girls in my neighborhood wanted long hair down their back. Some of us wanted long flowing straight hair while others didn’t mind it being natural, but it had to be long. The girls that ruled the school had the longest plaits. As I got older this need for hair validation became more of a reality. When you have done everything you could think of to care for, and pamper, your hair nothing could prepare you for an existence whereby your hair is not what you worked for. Everyone knows someone effected by cancer and/or different serious illnesses. We have encouraged women that have lost their hair due to illness, and we openly admire their strength. It is important that we let them know their beauty and worth is not defined by their hair. We want them to continue standing; we want them to continue to see the beauty of life in themselves. However, even after sowing positivity in the next woman we don’t see ourselves in her shoes…until we are.

I remember being told that I was about to being taking medication that could cause hair loss. There was a part of me that did not believe what I was told, and I paid that particular detail no attention. I told myself everyone doesn’t get every side effect. I’ve lost a lot due to my health, and I question my appearance everyday…I know I’m not about to lose my hair. My brain could not handle what that would mean. Hair in my family was a sign of being blessed and beautiful. All the women in my family have hair down their backs as if God touched it themselves. No one relaxed we just continued a method of caring for our hair pasted down from generations. The idea of being cut off from that was more than I could handle so I thought to wish it away. There was no need making myself sick mentally dealing with something that might never occur. That logic worked for a bit…until I began to see my hair come out in my hands.

Over several months my hair would shed, and I would cut it a little shorter as it was thinning. During this time, I didn’t want to be seen; ugly and cursed where the only thoughts I had of myself. I thought about getting a wig to cover the shame I was feeling, but as I looked for one I found myself breaking down in the beauty supply store. I felt if this illness didn’t kill me shame of hair loss would. Praise God for the black women that are elders in our communities, and the brothers that see past the superficial. I sat in my bathroom cutting my hair, and then shaving my head, as I cried uncontrollably. In the moment this was not a case of “it’ll grow back” because the medication was long term.

As I searched for scarves an elder sistah stopped me and volunteered her testimony regarding hair loss. She came from the same kind of family where hair was life and there was plenty of it. However, she forced me to consider what is self-worth and beauty. She took my number, yes this complete stranger, and became a part of my support system along with a some of my elders. I would see brothers on the street that would call me beautiful in my scarf, and in my yard as I swept. I can admit that I still miss my hair. However, I am surviving and finding a new understanding of living. “I am not my hair” actually has meaning to me personally. I couldn’t see the rest of me for that one area…now I’m looking at a more complete person.

Staff Writer; Chelle’ St James

May also connect with this sister via Twitter; ChelleStJames.

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