Sunday, 19 April 2015

Sarah Vine and a BBC Radio Five Live interview...

You may or may not know that famous British journalist Sarah Vine (also married to Michael Gove), suffers from thinning hair and has had since she was 14. Well yesterday, she shared an in-depth insight into her own experiences, in her Daily Mail column; from covering it up, to destroyed self-esteem and even a few treatments she tried along the way!

Whilst she and I have differing hairloss conditions - for Sarah it's female pattern baldness AND telogen, for me it's Alopecia Universalis - it seems our own experiences have seen many similarities along the way.

For example, Sarah says "I stopped exercising, not just because I was embarrassed about the way the thinning strands would separate and cling unflatteringly to my scalp when I sweated, but also because there didn't seem much point when my ugliness was on the top of my head for all to see." Whilst my hairloss was slow and wasn't an all-over shedding, when my alopecia was in the initial stages, I remember tipping myself upside down in a yoga class, giving myself a head rush as I straightened suddenly, realising that the patches would be on show for all to see if they opted to look through the window. In a crowded gym, where many attend to 'show off', I remember feeling like a fraud for being there when I was somehow less than perfect! Needless to say I cancelled my gym membership and have failed to rejoin since!

Reading on in her column, this also made me nod vigorously to myself "It fundamentally damaged my sense of self as a female, too. So much of the culture of beauty revolves around having long, thick, glossy locks that I felt I could never match up. I was so pathetically grateful for any male attention I made some seriously unwise choices in that department." Whilst I can't concur in the men department, I do remember struggling with the social 'ideal' that is oft foisted upon us. As my friends posted facebook pics of their new cuts, colours and styles, I was carefully scraping and securing strands of hair over ever-enlarging patches in a hope I'd get away with it a little longer and cringing at the sight of my odd head shape in a bad wig. In fact, sentences like these simply serve to remind me of the survey results from Dove US which highlighted 44% of women stated they were 'defined' by their hair - not just that they liked it, but that it was intrinsic to who they are as people! Sad but true!

One final point that I really related to was this: " the end of the day, it’s true: hair loss may be demoralising, undermining, upsetting and even embarrassing. But it is not fatal." Whilst the phrase "Its just hair" was one of the ones I frequently heard AND hated, at the end of the day it is just hair and I am grateful I'm not sick! Don't forget, search #100HairFreeDays above to check out all the positives of hairloss I've identified.

I'm seriously impressed with how open and honest Sarah Vine's column is on this subject and how brave she is to share the pictures, and I think she makes some very true and valid points! I only hope it serves to help those that read it, hairloss sufferer or not, and at the end of it all will somehow improve and diminish the stigma that many of us feel within society. The only difference (well actually there are many) between mine and Sarah's experience is that she's found comfort in a weave to cover it up, and I've embraced regular wig wearing, and more often than not you'll find me bald-headed too!

Following her fabulous column, which you can read here, BBC Radio Five Live interviewed Denise Hayes on the challenges she faced getting a job with a similar hairloss condition, highlighting just how appearance can contribute. Following the two, I am very proud to announce that in just over an hour, at approximately 10.35pm, I will be talking live on BBC Radio Five Live and you'll be free to listen in here. I'll be part of a much larger feature on hairloss in general and will follow an interview with Sarah Vine! Wish me luck! If I can, I'll share a link tomorrow and don't forget if you miss it you'll be able to listen again on BBC iPlayer!

Victoria x Twitter: @PrettyBald

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