Dealing With Negative Reactions to Hair Loss
When you're going through the distressing process of losing your hair, it would be nice to think that people around you would be supportive. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Learning how to cope with negative reactions is an important aspect of living with your Hair Loss problem. Denying you feelings about them can lead to long-term stress and can prevent you from recovering your poise and enjoying the good things in your life.
Loss of PrivilegeThere are may types of privilege that give some people in our society advantages over others. Men, for instance, often enjoy privileges that women don't have access to, and white people in the UK are privileged in that they're rarely on the receiving end of the sorts of prejudice experienced by other groups. Having healthy hair also provides privilege, though you may not realise it until it's gone.
Lacking privilege means that you can be a target for nasty remarks, prejudice and even discrimination in a variety of contexts. It can be tough to deal with, especially if it's a problem you're encountering for the first time. The important thing to remember is that lots of people deal with similar problems every day. There are people who will stand up for you and help you cope once you have identified the problem.
Negative Reactions at WorkOne of the most difficult areas to encounter negative reactions is at work, for the simple reason that you can't get away from them. The same can apply to educational institutions. Often this consists of jokes and silly remarks which people may not realise are hurtful. You may be told that you have no sense of humour. Remind people that it's much easier to find things funny when you're not continually the butt of the joke.
Although bosses can sometimes be part of the problem, your boss or HR person should still be your first point of contact when a problem like this develops. Request a meeting and explain how stressful you are finding it. Make sure to identify it as workplace bullying, which most companies will not tolerate, and explain that you are concerned it could affect your performance. Most bosses are ready to step in and help in this kind of situation.
Occasionally, prejudice about hair loss can lead to people being turned away from job interviews or failing to get promotions because they are not considered to have the right image. This is a particular problem in the media and in jobs that involve dealing with the public. It is difficult to bring a successful legal challenge in this case, but you should try to avoid taking it personally, and don't be shy of telling others what happened to you.
Negative Reactions in the FamilyIt's particularly hard to cope with negative reactions from those we love. This is one of the reasons why it's good to discuss hair loss issues with your family in the early stages, letting them know how you feel about things and what sort of support you need. Remember that teenage children may experience embarrassment which they express as hostility; it doesn't mean they have no sympathy, just that they too are finding the process challenging.
Because it can result in drastic changes in appearance, hair loss can, unfortunately, lead to a loss of attraction in intimate relationships. Again, talking can help, as it can help you to find ways of working around the problem or making things exciting in different ways. The most important thing to remember is that loss of attraction does not equate to loss of love, and it isn't about you as a person. Couples counselling can help if you need support to make things work.
Internalised NegativityNegative reactions have the most power to hurt when they impact on our own existing negative feelings. If people belittle your appearance it's easy to start believing them, and then a vicious circle can develop. To prevent this, when a negative remark is made, ask yourself why it hurts and if it really should. For instance, someone may call you ugly because of your hair loss, but does it really matter what they think? Do you think they're ugly? Why is your appearance their business?
Bullying people about their appearance is a form of social control. Once you realise that, and realise how nonsensical most related remarks are, you'll find it much easier to be confident despite them. Don't let people take advantage of your insecurity - show them that you're worth just as much as you always were. After all, being bald is much better than being a bully.