Hi all,

I am between jobs at the moment and this is the first job search I'll be doing as a bald woman. To other bald ladies out there, have you experienced discrimination when being interviewed because of your appearance related to gender, meaning that if you'd have been a bald man in the same situation you might have been treated differently? I am worried I won't get hired because of the way I look. 

Many times going out in public, I choose not to cover my head. When I do cover it, it is because of weather, feeling like accessorizing with a pretty scarf or hat, or sometimes just having a tough day (it's still really new for me and it gets emotional). I have never worn wigs because they seem expensive and possibly uncomfortable (although if I had lots of money and found that I liked wearing them I'd have a fun assortment to have different hair every day). I don't want to decrease my chances of hire but I don't want to spend upwards of $200 on something that hides who I am. (note: to me this is NOT the same as buying professional clothing because anyone has to do that, not just someone that has alopecia and XX-chromosomes). 

So my main question is this: if I am dressed just a professionally as the bald dude sitting next to me, applying for the same job, is it probably safe or unsafe for me to go into the interview without a head covering of any kind? If not, can I get away with a scarf or do I have to bite the bullet and buy a stupid wig? (Not that wigs are stupid, I'm just not sure they're for me).

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WOW! This is a tough one. I commend you that you are comfortable enough in life to go bald.  I think the decision comes down to answering the question do they want my skills or my hair? Do I need this job bad enough to pretend I am someone that I may not be?

To me, you may be discriminated against but if the criteria for the job is how you look rather than how qualified you are, maybe this is not the right job...On the other hand, standing up and saying "This is me!" is very empowering. If you do not think wigs are right for you, then you should not have to wear one.

This question is not easily answered because it can really depend on various factors.

- Who is interviewing you

- What the position is for

- Does it require you to interact with clients or the public

- How you react to your Alopecia

   The last one may seem weird, but employers want employees that are comfortable with who they are. Even if you have something they can't spell, they want to know it's not going to be a problem for "you".

  I have been on both sides of the interviewing process and as a candidate, I found employers don't feel comfortable asking about it, but are curious. So I found ways to bring it up where they did not feel uneasy. It's better to control the conversation. Employers can see it as a sign of strength when you embrace who you are. 

  Having interviewed people for positions, I find that although we have visible deficiencies, all people have something they feel less for. Some are less confident in their logistical approach, some have no clue what they want to do, some barely understand what they need to say in an interview.

   I once had a friend talk himself out of a job I got for him because he could not be quiet. He literally scared the person doing the interview because he never let her speak.

  It is natural for you to feel an automatic slight when you don't get the job, but it's likely some other reason than Alopecia. Just be you, and rock the interview. If you don't get it, they are missing out! :0)

I don't like it when people "have to go along to get along", but as one who has had alopecia areata for 30 years, and was criticized in the workplace for it (no one wanted to educate themselves on the condition, so that didn't work for me), I am advising you to start wearing wigs, if you want to be able to support yourself.  I had a 25 year career where "appearance was everything" (almost secondary to actual ability), and I know, because I was told, that if I hadn't worn wigs, I wouldn't have been there.  Did that go against my grain??  Well of COURSE it did....but was I willing to blow off the chance to retire with a pension and lifetime medical benefits....NO!   A friend and former coworker in this same arena (political) was battling cancer, and she was bald, also, from chemotherapy.  Imagine my surprise when she, too, was pressured to wear a wig, as though hair was the greatest of her concerns at the time.  Thankfully, both of us are retired with pensions and medical benefits, and we can do what we want without fear of retribution from an employer.

I guess for me it just seems really unfair that they would feel uncomfortable with the way I look, and I don't think I'd feel comfortable working in a place that thinks of me that way. Even if I'm on the front line interacting with customers or something, my natural appearance shouldn't be treated as if I have tattoos (or leprosy) all over my face. Am I going to scare them away or something?

For me, this is "normal" (well it is new normal at least). Problem is, jobs are scarce and because this is my first time dealing with this problem, if I am rejected or told to modify how I look, beyond what other people have to do that is still a matter of choice (again, using the tattoo example) and not for reasons that are completely out of their hands (ya know...like your f*ckin hair falling out), it's not exactly a boost for my confidence. It just reinforces the message that I am not enough, and I am ugly and weird and freaky. It shakes everything and not only am I pissed that if I was male I wouldn't have to deal with this sh*t, but I feel like I might as well go live under a rock because the world tells me if I look different then I am nothing. 

The whole being bald thing is still very new to me as well. I had gone on a job interview a few months ago and didn't want to wear a wig because I knew I wouldn't wear it if I were hired. It was for a serving position at a restaurant. I had actually come on here looking for advice on how to introduce the fact that I'm not dying, just hairless. I ended up not speaking about it in the interview because it didn't seem to come up. Regardless, I am happy that I was prepared with something to say in regards to my alopecia. I was hired on the spot. I don't feel like I was treated differently in any way. I did turn down the position ultimately but I will say that I currently do work in a very public position, I serve food in a hotel and pool and I have never had any problems.

At first I was very angry that God brought me to be an Alopecian but you know after my job at XM radio and I wore a hat then a hairpiece employee friends at XM told me to "Take that hairpiece off and show your true colors of a good honest Catholic man"  I did and was "wearing bald" ever since and when I invited artists like Tony Levin (Bass for Peter Gabriel) and other bald (self shaved) artists I felt better about myself and even my friends and girlfriends told me that I look cool and a little different and no Sarah I do not shave my eyebrows for effect. I love life and have worked in broadcasting for the past 37 years with and without hair. No it is permanently without hair.2 Do I mind being bald? At first YES scary but now at the age of 58 I am glad I am alive, a father of three boys and a Japanese wife (Hair Stylist). We have been married for 27 years married (with hair) in 1988 and she saw the alopecia universalis take affect.  God bless us all. The best for me is daily mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.  Do I feel or think ugly?  Why should I if God loves me I love all of you and us!

I do respect and appreciate your viewpoint but you must understand that it is different for women.... sadly...

I agree it is totally different for women. 

My current employer is perfectly fine with me being bald. I am in a visible position.  I am ready to explore opportunities outside of my company and a little reluctant because I do not want to think about the whole interviewing process again. 

 

Pippinsgirl, go to the interview as you are.  Confidence is critical and focus on your skills/abilities and how it ties in to the companies goals/objectives. 

 

Keep us posted.  I would love to know how you make out.

 

I'm so glad we have this forum. When my hair first fell out (AU), I was working at the Wall Street Journal in Toronto. I wore wigs since I was devastated and horrified at what had happened to me. Then I moved on to another job - a national church newspaper. I gradually became more comfortable with myself and also had my eyebrows tattooed, which made a big difference in my attitude, actually. 

I decided to go without a wig, so I sent an email around saying that usually I feel medical issues are private, but in this case, there could be misunderstandings. I explained that "the hair you've seen me with is store-bought," that I have an autoimmune condition (I don't like "disease") called alopecia, I don't have cancer and my health is just fine. The reaction was very good. I also appeared on television panel discussions representing my employer and nobody said boo. 

Then I applied for and interviewed for a job in New York, also a national church newspaper. People in that world had gotten to know me without hair and in a professional capacity. I wear makeup, pretty earrings, nice clothes so I try to be as attractive as possible. I got the job. 

Now, these are religious non-profits and maybe more flexible, so all I can offer you is my own experience. However, I have discovered it is possible. For a new employer, I'd want to assure them voluntarily in the interview that my health is fine, i.e., I am not having chemotherapy for cancer. I'd also not want to make a big deal about it, just move on and discuss the job, the company, the industry, whatever. 

Attitude to your baldness and the need to wear a wig depends on what kind of work you want to get. In some professions, appearance really means a lot and you will be selected precisely by the criterion of appearance. But if this is not such a job, it will be much easier for you both in getting a job and in the job itself. But better kill them with your resume (I oredered mibe from zipjob) and your skills, so your appearance won't matter.

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