“Because I’m bald…”
I find myself using this answer for a wide variety of questions.
“Why are they staring at you?”
“How’d you get that so fast?”
“Why did that guy randomly hug you?”
“Why do they think you have cancer?”
“Why do you get cold so quickly?”
And most recently, “Why did they just laugh at you?”
I suppose being made fun of is something we assume we grow out of. Something we think stops once we reach a certain age. Sadly, I don’t think it ever ends. As much positive energy that I get from people, I receive a surprising amount of negative. People can’t imagine grown women laughing at each other over something so minimal. But it happens, more than I’m willing to admit. Whenever I tell people I’ve been laughed at or made fun of, I get this immediate wave of pity. Sympathy. Two things I have worked hard to avoid for over 10 years.
When I lost my hair, the only emotion people passed on was that they felt bad for me. Horrified for some. No one could relate; they all felt sympathetic. And I hated all that energy. It made me feel like I should feel bad for myself, that there really was something wrong with me. It wasn’t passed on intentionally- it was just a side effect of losing your hair. Something so visible and so obvious, no one could help but feel the way they did. So the last thing I wanted was for people to know I was being made fun of. I already had enough pity, I didn’t need any more. So I silently dealt with those obstacles, not announcing every time something horrible happened. And I carry that with me to this day- I don’t like having to let my friends and family know that there are still mean people in this world. That there are women who feel like they’re superior to me because I don’t look like them. But there was. And there are. And there always will be.
So after giving this some thought, I have decided to share a recent experience. Maybe parents with children who have Alopecia will be saddened by this. Maybe grown women who have Alopecia can relate to this. Maybe someone who has a friend with Alopecia can learn something from this. Maybe you will learn something from my experience:
I stepped out of the sauna at my gym wearing a bikini when two ladies felt it was appropriate to laugh at me and make comments in regards to the way I look. When I say ladies, think late teens early twenties, dressed in the trendy tight leggings and crop top shirts. Ladies that, in high school I would have described as “Mean Girls.” They obviously felt superior to me based on looks, otherwise the following interaction wouldn’t have occurred:
(I step out of the sauna, bikini clad and reaching for my towel. The “Mean Girls” walk past as they enter the locker room, both staring at me as they stride with noses in the air.)
-Mean Girl 1: OHMYGAWD, I thought that was a guy in here!
–Mean Girl 2: hahahahahahahahahaha, when did they start letting tranny’s in here?!?
-Mean Girl 1: hahahaha I wondered why he was checking us out!
The rest of their conversation was had whispered between them both, all whilst looking and laughing at me. I made eye contact with Mean Girl 1, and held it for long enough to make her uncomfortable. She knew I heard her, and made no effort to hide the fact she took time out of her day to ruin someone else’s.
So there I stood, half-naked in a bikini feeling humiliated by Mean Girls.
I considered approaching them about it. I went through about fifteen scenarios where I told them right where they could shove it, and how often they could. I have replayed this scenario in front of a mirror about 50 times now with the perfect comebacks, stinging responses and threatening looks…
…I did nothing. I couldn’t do anything. I waited for them to walk out and go on with their evening as I eventually changed and left for home. They left me stripped (literally and physically) of my dignity, words and confidence. Why did this happen?
Because I’m bald.
So why do I share this heart wrenching experience? Why bring up the bad when the world needs good? There is no feel-good outcome of this story. I never got my revenge. I never saw them again. I never reported it to the gym or told anyone else about this.
I share this because, this is reality. We face the most unexpected challenges alone, abrupt and invading our safest places. Never would I think someone could shake my confidence; I’ve been working on this for 10+ years. But it takes a moment. A second. A word. A look. And all came crashing down.
I guess what I’m saying is, body confidence isn’t one-a-done. It’s a process that brings us to feeling stronger than ever before only to fracture it the very next day. Such is life.