Society defines people by their hair?

Just like being thin, society puts too much emphasis on hair and hairstyles, especially the younger you are. As you age, it is considered natural to begin losing hair (just strictly from Androgenic Alopecia let alone other forms). Nevertheless, hair is way overrated. Unfortunately, Hollywood and advertising has effectively set the societal norm that having hair is what defines beauty, youth and/or masculinity. This is not true. The reality is, having hair or not makes no difference whether on the head or body. It's simply strands of excess protein that really is of no use to the body, that's why it's sent out of the pores. And honestly, hair is mostly the reason for skin breakouts. Humans have just taken to cultivating the look of the hair much like we've done with manicuring the grass in our yards. The reality is, it's not the hair that matters, it's the person and what's inside that counts. The hair just comes along for the ride.

Unfortunately, most people are so attached to their hair and the identity that they have built around their hair that when they begin losing it, it's a shock. But, the primary reason it's such an emotional shock is that it's an unexpected (and unwanted) change combined with societal expectations. However, losing hair isn't the end. It may take some time for you to come to terms with your new less hairy identity, but in time you will. Personally, I prefer to get to know the person, not the hair.

Worse, cancer treatments have shed an unflattering light on those affected by alopecia. It's not really the cancer that's the problem either, it's the chemotherapy and drugs. These drugs are extremely harsh on the body in an attempt to kill off the cancer. Cancer treatments are effectively like trying to kill a microbe with a sledgehammer. So, it's no wonder all of the hair falls out from those harsh treatments. It's unfortunate too that those with alopecia get painted with that same brush even when it has no relation.

As I have aged, hair has become less and less important to me. In fact, for me it's become more of a nuisance than a blessing for my skin, due to issues with the natural fallout/regrowth cycles. While I do suffer from some Androgenic Alopecia, I am not affected by AA or AU. Yet, I have still chosen to shave my head (and other parts where my skin is problematic). I have also found that shaving it off tends to help with my skin's problems.

For children, though, having alopecia is tough. Peer pressure is very real in school. It's too bad schools don't have some way yet to combat peer pressure as children can be very harsh on someone who's even slightly different. For children with alopecia, it can be heartbreaking as these children are the same as all of the other children, just without hair.

Unfortunately, as long as society continues to define beauty by hair and hairstyles, we will continue to have the stigma attached to losing hair. It's unfortunate too because I find both men and women can be not just attractive, but funny, confident, kind, helpful and intelligent with or without hair. If you are in the process of losing your hair to AA or AU, societal standards (yet another form of adult peer pressure) are what is making you feel insecure. Just tell yourself there's no reason for this insecurity. It's not the hair that makes you, you. It's your actions, confidence, style and personality that drive who you are. The hair is just another accessory that you can ultimately do without.

Views: 48

Comment by Marie on July 29, 2011 at 12:32pm
Nice post. You make an excellent point. However, I believe that this can just as easly be applied to many aspects of beauty as defined by our culture. For example, I'm having a very difficult time watching my face and body change with age. I look in the mirror feeling 35 but looking 55. Ouch! Anyone my age knows what happens when you turn 50: it seems like overnight you have a poochy belly, that strange roll across your back (you KNOW what I'm talking about!), jowls, marionette lines, sagging boobs...the list goes on! Society dictates that somehow we are not supposed to tolerate the natural effects of getting older, musch less embrace or feel good about them. I think society may be closer to accepting Alopecia than it is to accepting normal aging. What does this say about us? More personally, what does my great dismay over looking old say about me?
Comment by R0BB on July 29, 2011 at 3:26pm
If indeed " Society defines people by their hair " then I beg the question

" Who the hell is society "

Is it the chronically problematic mainstream do nothing celeb - in and out of rehab and prison ?

The well known politician , screwing his house maid ? ( and having offspring in the back porch)

The actor/actress that cant seem to get off the crack pipe

The overpaid athlete on the Wheaties Box - taking illegal meds to excel at his job ?

The public school teacher ( male or female ) - having extra credit sessions with a student ?


When I was younger - going back like 20 yrs ... society , the media , the government , and most public servants acted like adults.

Seems like these days - everyone's acting like a spoiled 13 yr old that hasnt gotten their way.

Until Society becomes competant again , its all one big cartoon to me.

Great Post and Reply to both of you !!


Comment by Angie on August 1, 2011 at 1:28am
WOW RoBB always telling it like it is.
Hey B. Wright. Knowledge is power, if we educate the children about alopecia, they will be fine. One young lady did just that. She was a H.S student, she did a presentation on Alopecia, her life change for the better. When some people don't understand something, they act like jackasses. I like your thinking, I wish for the single ladies, I could clone you a few times. :-) Thanks for the posting.
Comment by Cheryl, Co-founder on December 6, 2011 at 9:41pm

The only comment I have is that EVERYTHING is ever changing. What is "in" today is "out" tomorrow. I remember when Oprah turned 50, somewhere it was stated that 50 is the new 40! Probably when she turn 60, it will be redefined for her again. My view is that I am really trying not to be influenced by what society thinks. It like we are waiting for society to accept us and then we will be ok. My mind is being ok period.

Marie, I hate the anti-aging campaigns too. Especially because it is REALLY not possible to win. It just drives us crazy chasing after it for as long as we can... and then we "give in" as if defeated. I love seeing women like Helen Mirren, rocking her age. Who would make any celebrity 1/2 her age, shrink in comparison.


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