“BOTH!” SAY THOSE WHO SUFFER HAIR LOSS FROM AGE, CHEMOTHERAPY OR ALOPECIA. AND IT ISN’T PRETTY!
According to Dictionary.com, discrimination is “treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.”
Since when did hair loss become a bad thing?
There are plenty of popular bald actors like Bruce Willis, Sean Connery, Vin Diesel, Patrick Stewart and sports icons like Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’neill, and even those who are buzzing their hair so short they might as well be bald like Channing Tatum, David Beckham, Jason Statham, Tyler Perry, Jason Statham, Dwayne and ‘The Rock’ Johnson … and they’re all considered “sexy” and well-accepted, right? So why are bad guys always portrayed as bald like Lex Luther, Pin Head and Freddie Krueger (who always wore a hat)? And there are successful bald women, too, like Sinéad O’Connor who rose to fame in spite of her boldly bald head and interior designer Sheila Bridges, named “America’s Best Interior Designer” by CNN and Time Magazine, who is as bald as a bald eagle, right there on her website home page.
There is definitely a difference, though, in being totally bald or choosing a bald look as opposed to what happens when you first begin to lose your hair and bald spots appear … which can happen to both men and women. In talking to hair loss sufferers and hair replacement specialists alike, there really is a difference in the way you’re treated when your hair loss issues are noticeable. “My clients say, ‘People are always looking at the top of my head never at me!’ Even what kids say is shocking,” says Lisa Lewis, hair loss sufferer, nonsurgical hair systems specialist and owner of Wiggit II in Clovis, C.A.
So what’s the big deal about hair loss?
“I once had a client who was known for his long hair which he wore in corn rows. Then he was diagnosed with cancer which he didn’t tell anyone about at work. When he started to lose his hair while going through chemo, his coworkers made fun of the bald spot that grew in the back and top of his head, even calling him a nickname because of it. He came to me begging for a hair loss treatment that would save his dignity,” says Lewis. Steve Rashlin, in his Time Magazine article last year pointed out, “If the 2008 presidential election comes down to a choice between Hillary Clinton and front runner Rudolph Giuliani, Americans will elect a woman before they will elect a bald man. The U.S. has had more than five bald Presidents, but Americans haven’t voted one into office in 51 years.”
In Britain, they hadn’t elected a bald prime minister since the 1950’s either. And fashion also seems to be identified with having hair, as pop and rock and roll stars always have hair and lots of it, with the exception of Sinéad O’Connor and we all know where that lead her. Since lots of favorite characters on TV right now are showing up bald (Jack Bauer in 24, John Locke in Lost, Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Vic Mackey in The Shield, Keith Mars in Veronica Mars, Steven Harper in Boston Public and so many more), what’s the big deal about regular people being bald? And, does it matter if you’re bald by choice or naturally bald? It seems baldness has even segued into the legal arena. There are actually bald discrimination lawsuits every year and many states are currently deciding on the criteria for baldness and its ramifications.
When we have hair loss, we often discriminate against ourselves.
Nonetheless, hair replacement specialist, cancer survivor, and Alopecia areata sufferer herself, Lisa Lewis, decided one day to find out once and for all if there was bald discrimination. She took off her own wig and went to the store and here is what she reported: “People either stared at my head or turned away and nobody approached me when it was obvious I needed help to choose an item. I had to go ask for help and both the sales associate and the cashier wouldn’t even look me in the eye. I wanted to die of embarrassment, but inside I knew I was going to put back on my wig and go again the next day. What do you think I was greeted with then? Smiles, comments, great customer service and lots of eye contact. Facing who I really am and seeing how others reacted to who I am wasn’t pretty.”
“What it all boils down to is that if we’re not as confident or as assertive, bald or not, we discriminate against ourselves by being so insecure,” says Lewis. And what of the man with the bald spot at work? “I fixed him up with a hair system in a dreadlocks style, since he was always known for his hair, and he loved it. He felt so good in it and got such good feedback that his sales at work shot up and when his chemo was finished and his hair grew back he decided to emulate the style of his hair system!”