Thursday, 10 September 2015

A #100HairFreeDays recap for the lovely @Chelt52 followers

As part of my week on @Chelt52 and my drive for Alopecia Awareness, I am sharing some things that have gone before that I feel help provide an insight. Here's a recap of my #100HairFreeDays project...

Inspired by the #100HappyDays trend, in February I put a little bald spin on the game and took part in my very own #100HairFreeDays challenge, or as I’d like to call it – ‘The Silver-Lining Game’. For 100 days straight, I posted one benefit of losing my hair (which was more than a little difficult!). Initially, I wasn’t sure I’d manage to find 100, but with the help of some of my fellow baldies, I actually realised that there are so many advantages to having no hair!

Here are my personal favourites:

Losing my hair for the first time was devastating and I felt so alone as I didn’t know anyone who had been through it. I struggled to cope with the emotional and psychological impacts of hairloss because let’s face it, how do you handle losing something which seems so much a part of your identity? For me, the Silver Lining Game was just one technique that got me back on track and was a huge part of ‘accepting’ my condition.

You can check out my #100hairfreedays on my Twitter which is @PrettyBald or search ‘#100hairfreedays’ on my blog as I did a quick round up each week and also collated them in one safe place.

Victoria x Twitter: @PrettyBald

E is for... A-Z of hairloss

Continuing on from D, because apparently this letter comes after that(!), we welcome E to the A-Z of hairloss... As always, don’t hesitate to let me know if I’ve forgotten anything!

E is for...

Eggheads – Last month, I got onto a 6-hour train all the way to Glasgow with the Alopecia team for the filming of Eggheads! The whole idea was to raise awareness for Alopecia sufferers as we would be on the show completely bald. It was a fabulous experience and you can read all about it in detail here...

Endurance – Trying to come to terms with my condition was extremely difficult; not only physically, learning wig maintenance, getting to grips with my bodily changes, but also mentally. It took drained all the mental endurance I had as I would often get angry not only at myself but other people.

Explanation – As there is no definite cause or trigger for Alopecia, it’s kind of hard to accept. I wanted an explanation as to why it was happening to me and no one else; I had no one to turn to for advice. That’s when I found Alopecia UK and all the wonderful men and women with the same condition as me and I felt relieved... united. I grew to just accept it and if they do discover a treatment for it, I don’t think I’m ready to get my hair back yet!

Entertainment – To see a bald woman walk down the street isn’t all too common these days, so I did become the punch line of some people’s jokes. Sometimes they were hurtful, other times it was just annoying but I just kept thinking... bald is beautiful, and I got through it.

Engaged – One morning, my boyfriend of four years surprised me in bed after waking up by turning over and asking “Oh, will you marry me?” and my initial reaction was “Are you serious?!” There’s always a stigmatism around people with no hair that they’re not being as beautiful as those with hair and I thought that I wouldn’t get that same level of romance - but I was wrong! My boyfriend, now fiancĂ©, is absolutely lovely and I couldn’t imagine my life without him and same goes for my hair (or lack of!). He loves me for me and I’m so thankful...

Victoria x Twitter: @PrettyBald

D is for... A-Z of hairloss

Continuing on from C, here is the A-Z of hairloss for the letter D!

Don’t forget to let me know if I missed something out!

D is for...

Devastating – Understandably, losing your hair can come as a devastating endeavour for any man or women as it pretty much defines who we are and what we look like. As for me, I got very angry and often took out my own confusion with my condition as anger on other people, which was not good I tell you!

Damn right embarrassing –When I first lost my hair, I was terrified of going out without covering up my bonce and there were negative thoughts constantly swirling through my head such as “What will that person think of me?” Of course, I did manage to pluck up the courage to freely walk outside wigless and I have to say, it’s oddly liberating!

Dogs – If you don’t know by now, I’m a massive dog-lover and have two very loyal doggies myself called Ceefer and Zotti. They are very clever, and when I would get upset they would just cheer me right up.

Disbelief – As of today, there still isn’t a definite cause of Alopecia. Of course there are contributing factors to other types of hairloss such as genetic disorders, drugs and chemotherapy, but it came to quite a shock to me when I started losing chunks of my hair and I thought “What have I done?” I was perfectly healthy, albeit I did like my bags of crisps, so why has this started? Over time I have learned to accept my baldness and I’ve realised that I shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks!

Dismorphia – When you lose all of your hair you do begin to see yourself differently. You start to question the standards of beauty and how your hair actually defines a lot of people and how they are perceived. However, even though it took me some time, I managed to accept my balness and I love it now! Bald is beautiful!

Victoria x Twitter: @PrettyBald

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Hairloss perks when being a bridesmaid...

This Saturday I have the privilege of being a bridesmaid for my 'Godsister' Megan and to say I’m excited is an understatement! With things being a little hectic recently due to my engagement, this wedding, Chelt 52 and work, I cannot wait for a time where I can unwind (at least a little).

Thanks to my hairloss, I'll have a perk that none of the other bridesmaids can claim; I don’t have to spend hours choosing what to do with my hair. I can have a lie-in* whilst everyone else attending the wedding is frantically trying to do a sophisticated up-do or have perfect curls. Then I can ‘casually’ saunter over to meet the other bridesmaids after having chosen what wig I want to wear. I could have long hair, short hair, curly or straight hair! It just depends on what mood I’m in on the day.

That’s all I’ve got for you so far folks, I’ll let you know how the wedding goes soon!

Victoria x

*Please note, I do not honestly believe I will have ANY time for a lie-in; no doubt there will be lots to do and I'll simply be grateful for the extra few minutes I can save by wearing a wig ;-) Twitter: @PrettyBald

Monday, 7 September 2015

Who is Pretty Bald...?

For my regular followers, I apologise for this blog post as it may seem like I am teaching granny to suck eggs... BUT, this week, I have taken over the @Chelt52 Twitter Account and will be sharing my story with more than 10,000 twitter followers.

When planning my week on @Chelt52, it seemed that the best place to start is at the very beginning (cue Julie Andrews here), and tell the @Chelt52 followers about who we are and what we do...

My name is Victoria Petkovic-Short and I have alopecia; an auto-immune condition where my own immune system attacks my healthy skin, hair and nail cells. There is no known cause of the condition (although many Doctors irritatingly ticked the 'stressed' box) and definitely no known cure. There are things which can help, but as they are either topical steroids or immunosuppressants, pursuit of flowing locks can often result in some nasty, terrifying and in many cases life-threatening side-effects! No thanks!

Losing your hair is often plonked in the 'who cares' box; people don't mean to sound harsh, but as I am so often told 'it's only hair'. While to an extent that is true - it is only hair and doesn't have a specific biological function - at the same time psychologically, this condition is debilitating, humiliating and all manner of other 'ting' words. In today's society, hair is inextricably linked to your femininity and masculinity and is given so much importance to who we are and what we do, that roughly 1 in 4 adverts on TV are for shampoo and 1 in 2 are for haircare products in general. In fact, haircare adverts outstrip make-up adverts by roughly 50%! Add to that the fact that one brand who shall remain nameless tells us we are 'worth it' when we have glossy, flowing locks and another tells us 'Greys, what greys' and suddenly that 'just hair' doesn't seem so trivial any more.

Losing my hair was difficult - in fact that is a huge understatement - and the whole time I was torn between feeling devastated and berating myself for getting so upset. It is the same (and yet so personal and different) for everyone, and is not to be underestimated, even though many of us are grateful to be alive and generally fairly healthy!

For me, one of the biggest challenges we face is a lack of awareness and even more so, a lack of money. Alopecia isn't 'fashionable' and couple that with the fact it is not life-threatening, and people give barely any money, if at all. In fact, what charities like Alopecia UK achieve on the relatively little they earn is phenomenal and something that they should be exceptionally proud of!

Pretty Bald was therefore an initiative that I set up to change perceptions of hairloss, fundraise for charity, build body-confidence and give something back. It may be a national rather than local initiative, but it is one that I am proud of and want to share with others in the community where I live!

I hope you enjoy my week and truly are not bored rigid!

Victoria x Twitter: @PrettyBald

Sunday, 6 September 2015

My plans for @Chelt52...

So as you may have spotted, we're appearing on the @Chelt52 Twitter Handle this week! @Chelt52 is pitched as a 'rotation curation' social media account, with a different Twitter user taking the reins each week and giving an insight into those who live and work in Gloucestershire. Some keep it local and some share more topic-specific stuff, but every single week is different! It's great!

Although I am local (based in Cheltenham), much of what I do, follow and care about has a national footing! Hopefully, the organisers (and you gorgeous @Chelt52 followers) will let me off for giving things a subject / national twist along the way...!

Pretty Bald was launched to raise awareness of Alopecia, change society perceptions of hairloss and importantly, fundraise for charity including Alopecia UK and the Little Princess Trust.

This week, I'll be working to give @Chelt52 followers an insight into what it's like to be a girl without hair, how you can help, what needs to change and importantly what we want to happen. We'll also throw in a sprinkling of the things I love locally and of course other accounts I love to follow!

I hope you enjoy! I'm certainly going to!

Victoria x Twitter: @PrettyBald

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

BBC Radio Gloucestershire... A week of fabulous stories!

Last week, I answered the BBC Radio Gloucestershire #PhoneWithNoHome and spoke with the lovely Mark Cummings, telling him a bit about myself, my hairloss and my ambitions. To my delight (and without any bribery on my part), Mark asked me to come back on the show and even better, he selected the 1st September breakfast show to coincide with the start of Alopecia Awareness Month.

After a ridiculously early start yesterday, I hesitantly strolled into the studio and awaited my turn in front of a mildly daunting microphone. Mark was a delight and asked me intelligent questions about life in the bald lane, giving me plenty of air time to talk Alopecia, Alopecia UK and Alopecia Awareness month.

Even better, my story started the ball rolling and the rest of this week will feature more people who have overcome adversity and made something of themselves! Listening to the trailers for the shows, I must say I'm once again humbled and feel truly lucky to be dealing with hairloss rather than a life-threatening condition, and really hope that this local feature will help remind others just how lucky we all are!

Thank you very much to Mark Cummings and BBC Radio Gloucestershire for having me on the show and for those of you who would like to listen, you can do so here...

(I'm at about 1hr21 and again at 1hr43)

Victoria x Twitter: @PrettyBald

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

It's the first of September and that can only mean...

...that's it's time to flip over the page of your Pretty Bald Calendar! Unfortunately, the weather hasn't been that great this year to enjoy many firepits and marshmallows, but one can still dream!

Victoria Twitter: @PrettyBald