For the past three years, I’ve helped with a camp for girls ages 12-18. Saturday, we had a pre-camp meeting to prepare for this year’s camp with the girls. I am the assistant Youth Leader Leader. What does that mean? Simply that I have the best job in all of camp. I get to work with the responsible 17-18 year old girls, who already know everything about how to camp and now get to teach the younger girls. Better yet, I’m the assistant, so I don’t have to be the responsible one.
Can you tell I’m from the south. I tend to take you down several winding roads before we get there. At the meeting Saturday, I asked the girls to draw a picture of their best camp memory. I drew a simple stick figure (my husband is the artist, not me) of me with my scarf on my head, and then another of me bald and holding the scarf in my hand. Everyone guessed it right off. They had shared in that deeply emotional and life changing moment.
Two years ago, I was asked to share with the girls how prayer had helped me overcome a difficult time. Becoming bald and being bald are two very different things. We become bald because of genetics, auto-immune, thyroid, etc. We don’g really have a choice. But if we keep taking the little steps to self acceptance, we can be bald, and that is a choice. Let me explain.
When I first really understood there was no “cure” to my alopecia, I dug my heels in kicking and screaming. I never really thought of myself as vain. But when I lost my hair, I was vain. I lamented my copper penny locks. Ironically, I spent most of my haired life hating it for one reason or another: the teasing in school for being a “red lobster”, the frizz, the split ends, the thinness, etc. When a friend offered to buy me a wig, I called the shop and requested a private fitting. I didn’t want anyone in there with me. I went just before closing, lurked around until all the other customers were gone and finally insisted on the one that looked the most like my hair style. It was a little brighter, but no one suspected at work. They just complimented me on my new hair cut. This “dirty little secret” went on for a few years.
I had quit wearing wigs and resorted to scarves three years ago when my then one year old plucked my wig from my head and slammed it to the floor shouting, “Ucky hair” right in the middle of church. I won’t even attempt to describe how I felt, but I knew I wasn’t going to put it back on. I slipped out to the van and dug around for a bandanna to replace the wig.
A year after that, I stood in front of all those young ladies and shared how little by little I had learned to accept myself and how prayer had helped. Then, for the first time outside of my home, I took my bandanna off. I still wear scarves and bandannas, but only for temperature control, or because I want to. I am bald. And feels amazing to be “good with that.”