|Me, mugging for the camera as usual.|
Hi folks! I blog a lot here about tips, tricks and tutorials for women experiencing hair loss due to chemotherapy, alopecia (like me) or other reasons — but it's occurred to me that being the relative or friend of someone losing their hair can sometimes be tricky, too. Whether it's your daughter, your mother or your best friend, seeing someone you love going through a period of (often rapid) transition in which their appearance changes dramatically can be an awkward time, not least because you're not sure you're giving the right encouragement, or saying the right things. (Plus they probably seem angry and/or teary a lot of the time.) Well, as someone who lost their hair aged 19 and has had literally every line under the sun said to them at one point or another, I'm here to offer my personal take on what not to say to someone experiencing hair loss to help you avoid worrying about causing inadvertent upset or offence. Plus: a few things you can and definitely should say!
Please note: it is absolutely not my intention here to "pile on" to wonderful, supportive, well-meaning people who are sometimes tongue-tied or stuck for words around people experiencing hair loss. I wouldn't have had a bloody CLUE what to say to someone in this situation before I went through it myself. It's for that reason that I'm providing this list, because nobody else is going to tell you this stuff — and because the support you offer as a loved one is monumental.
PS. You can say anything to me now, by the way. I don't care. I'll be over here, eating pizza :)
What Not To Say To Someone Experiencing Hair Loss:
"I wish I could wear headscarves/wigs too!"People who say this are so well-meaning, because they're trying to offer a positive spin on the situation. Ultimately however, it's not helpful for someone who suddenly has to wear a headscarf or wig for whatever reason to hear this from someone with hair — who actually has a choice in the matter. At the very least, it comes off insincere. Just... steer clear.
"I'm jealous: it must take you no time at all to get ready in the morning!"
See above! Someone who's just lost their hair this would gladly trade in their alleged extra half-hour in the morning for their hair back, believe me. (And for most hair-free types, the reverse is actually true: if you use make-up to recreate eyebrows and eyelashes, this takes much longer than a "normal" make-up routine, at least initially.) The best you'll get here is a strained smile.
"Ugh, I'm having such a bad hair day"
This one is so easy to blurt out, and most people wouldn't bat an eyelid at you saying this — unless they've just lost their hair. The most mundane hair comments can cut surprisingly deeply for people in the midst of hair loss. At worst, they'll just yell "at least you have hair!" at you, and then it'll be awkward turtles all round. This kind of stuff is super-easy to say without thinking, so if you do utter it, the best remedy is to apologize immediately with the words "Ugh I am a total idiot, sorry" and breeze on through like it never happened.
"It'll come back though, right?"
Otherwise known as, 'the infuriating amateur diagnosis.' (Actually, the last person who said this to me was the lady at the DMV after I submitted my request to wear my cap in my drivers license photo. I jokingly replied, "that's news to me, love!" She... did not laugh.) Yes, many folks who lose their hair do get it back. Many don't. Regardless of what's going to happen in the future, if all you want in the world at that time is for your hair to come back, hearing Dr. Unqualified telling you what they "reckon" is going to happen with your medical condition can be a bit of a kick in the pants, to say the least — even it's coming from a good place, because they think that's what you want to hear.
"My friend tried X, and it worked for her!"
Trust me, the raw, vulnerable relative or friend in front of you does not want to hear about your acquaintance who tried yoga/steroids/guano masques/snake-oil. They're already being bombarded with Google Ads about that stuff. They're almost certainly in touch with a variety of medical professionals about the best route forward. Leave your contact out of it. Unless, of course, that contact is also a scientist who's literally just announced 100% success in a peer-reviewed clinical hair loss trial of 500 subjects: then you can give them their email!
"It's only hair."
Yes, it's only hair. But to a woman who's just lost theirs, it's never "only" hair. It will be soon — but not right now. Wait til they're the ones saying this line. Then it's an awesome mantra!
...and Three Things You Can Do
|Send 'em Pinspiration!|
Laugh at their hair loss jokes
Using humor — often very dark humor — can feel really good for people losing their hair (or people losing anything, for that matter.) Really try to get over any awkwardness you might feel about such jokes, and laugh along with them, even if it's shocked laughter. If you feel really awkward, just say "ohhhh... you went there!" Don't leave them hanging! (Please note: do NOT attempt to make the same jokes yourself. Trust me, it will go down like a sack of you-know-what.)
Send them this Pinterest board
I made a Pinterest board of famous (and not-so-famous) women looking absolutely incredible with no hair. We live in a culture that relentlessly associates hair with femininity (and vice versa), and positive representations of women without hair can be hard to find. So there, I did it for you. Click here to see the board and send 'em the URL!
Tell them they look beautiful
...just do it. Repeatedly.
To all the fantastic friends and relatives of folks experiencing hair loss: I hope this helps! A reminder: I may not post very regularly here (EyelineHer is intended as more of a resource bank than a day-to-day blog) BUT I read every single comment you folks post here, and will do my utmost to respond to you. So if you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me a comment right here.