Continuing through my teen and college years was my long, curly brown hair. It was one of my most noticeable features. I call these years my ‘Nicole Kidman’ years. Once, when I was home from college, I was watching my mother in the mirror and became aware of what was going to happen to me. On some level though, and perhaps this is youth and optimism, I just kept going. I just moved on.
I graduated from college with a degree in Sociology and started my career in the non-profit sector with long hair and a determination to not let hair loss “happen” to me. After a few years, though, I switched careers - ironically - and became a hairstylist. I opened my own salon, probably because I loved working with other people’s hair. I know how to listen and empathize and it was an escape from my own reality.
When I noticed the front of my hair thinning, in my30s, I started researching ALL the causes of hair loss in women. I looked for anything pertaining to preventative methods or treatments. The reality was that my hair was quickly thinning and other people started to notice too. People were looking at my scalp instead of my eyes when they were talking to me.
I immediately turned to well-marketed products.
I tried over-the counter hair treatment and medications and couldn’t see a real difference, plus I wasn’t willing to commit to the lifelong expense. I consulted with dermatologists, herbalists, holistic practitioners and colleagues in the hair industry. I invested in hair follicle stimulation treatment, which was a $6000 out–of-pocket expense, but I did see positive results. I have tried every hairstyle in the book and spent a fortune on hair products to thicken, "volumize" and produce thick, flowing hair.
I also searched for other people who were experiencing the same thing. I needed a community.
And I started to wonder and fear:
“How I could live my life if my hair was thinning or if I became bald. What would I do?
What should I be doing? Who would I be without hair and who would love me?”
During my first pregnancy I experienced the closest I came as an adult to thick, flowing hair. It was pure bliss! After my second pregnancy, however, my hair really started to fall out. The combination of female pattern baldness and hormonal hair loss were wreaking havoc on my "It's NOT going to happen to me" plan. I was starting to accept my condition and I wanted to know what I could do without going bankrupt that made me feel good about myself.
A BIG REALIZATION
As a woman, having thinning hair or going bald has never been in fashion. Today, there are no celebrities or supermodels showing off their thinning or balding heads. It can make you feel as if your womanhood is somehow compromised and you are invisible ... or should be.
Now, believe me, I know that’s absolutely ridiculous and I am a completely powerful, amazing woman, but nothing can bring me to my knees quicker than hair insecurity. I’ve had the therapy, tried the products and talked to anyone and everyone who will talk to me about it. Women with female pattern hair loss are everywhere. Once I started talking to other women about it, we couldn’t stop talking. Everyone is hungry for information, support and solutions.
That’s why I am here.
I’ve read the Cosmo and Vogue quizzes where they ask men, “What are you really attracted to in a woman?” Year after year, issue after issue, they consistently say, “Her hair.” Obviously, I bought into that “truth” too. I was conditioned and socialized to believe that hair was a big part in defining the beauty and life success of women. This is CRAZY TALK!
While searching for someone to hold my hand, I found in my research a lot of depressed, sad posts and forums, mostly around cancer patients and alopecia. Still others focused on hair loss as simply a condition due to stress or unhealthy lifestyle choices.
What I didn’t see was much attention paid to women going through the experience of female pattern baldness. This is a different kind of condition: a permanent and gradually more devastating one. Like other women in my shoes, I am completely healthy, youthful, smart and engaged in the world. I do not have a thyroid issue or too much stress. My hair loss is genetic. The only sites or people addressing it were vendors who wanted to sell me a product, not engage me in something up-lifting.
Despite the physical self-awareness, the psychological impact on women is less than positive to say the least. Lots of otherwise powerful women admit to feelings of isolation, embarrassment and shame about their hair loss.
A secondary wrinkle (read: irritation) was that as I told my story to women who would listen, and rather than believed me, some wanted to help, diagnose or FIX me. They would consistently tell me to take supplements or get my thyroid checked. These were not solutions for me, but they were trying to help. I gave them a wide birth, because they meant well, but inside I would shake my head. There is NO WAY they would ever say these things to a man.
And so here we are. This is how and why BIG LIFE THIN HAIR was born. It’s the natural and, let’s face it, WILLFUL result of personal struggle, searching, a love of hair, a love of my fellow womankind and A LOVE OF LIFE. It’s born of a need to have an answer to the noise of “hair = beauty.”
My answer is LIFE IS BIGGER.
I know personally how deeply it can affect you. At the same time, I am more than my hair style and I want other women to come together to help support each other, create a new context for the conversation and to elevate education and awareness about products, treatments and lifestyle changes to empower women with this condition.
If you’re a woman losing your hair, what do you do? BIG LIFE THIN HAIR is here to help you answer that question while rejecting the idea that a woman’s beauty is dependent on her hair. I can confidently say, from my own experience, that life goes on and it can be great; BIG. There are options available and you’re not alone.
This site is about being transparent in order to be bigger. It's about putting LIFE before HAIR. I want to see growth in myself and in you, a dialogue that is about sharing, not shaming, and most importantly a conversation about finding a way to feel supported by being supportive.
I love you all already.