There’s only one way to describe my first reaction when I lost my hair: blind panic. The first weeks, I did my very best to avoid the truth. Had tons of fun and acted as if the problem didn’t exist - that was my survival strategy. One week after I’d started to lose my hair, I went to the bar with my friends to watch an Ajax game. Because the bald spots were already quite visible, I wore a beanie. A bit weird, considering it wasn’t that cold, but that was the only thing I could think of to mask my bald spots. Anything was better than sitting alone at home. We spent the whole afternoon yelling at the Ajax players and we had a lot of fun.
Halfway through the game, a group of guys was standing next to us, and one of them caught my eye. Afterwards, we went over to someone’s place for some drinks and I ended up sleeping at that really good-looking guy’s place. It was a really nice evening, but when I woke up next to him, I was shocked. I’d forgotten that those days, I would wake up in the morning with a huge amount of hair on my pillow. Fortunately, he went for a shower pretty quickly, which allowed me to hastily zig-zag over the bed and collect all my hair. There was no way I was going to throw my hair away there, so I put all of it in my shoe so I could throw it in the bin when I got home.
‘Your hair used to be a beautiful, voluminous, glossy friend, but it is now an enemy that makes you unhappy. Makes sense that you want to get rid of it’
The weeks after that were more or less the same. Go to the bar, have too much to drink, wake up hungover, collect my hair, shower without washing my hair (too scared to lose even more hair), go to work, collect half a wig’s worth of hair in the bin under my desk, go home, have some wine (yet again), have loads of snacks and candy, smoke like a chimney and fall into bed numb and exhausted. It didn’t work, of course, but at the time, I couldn’t think of a better idea.
A week and a half after I’d lost my first strand of hair, I decided to go to the Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam with my mom and a friend to look for caps, beanies and scarves. I was hoping those would last me a little while at least. But by the time we were supposed to go there, so much of my hair had already fallen out that we swapped the market for a wig shop. Pfff I was dreading it so much. I couldn’t deny it anymore: I was going bald. The only bald people I knew were people who were sick. And if there was one thing I didn’t want to be, it was weak or pitiful.
I was really determined to make a fun afternoon out of the appointment with the wig specialist. My natural hair was dark and straight and this was the perfect opportunity to find out what I’d look like blonde. Well, that was a NO. I looked like a pornstar, haha! After trying on and having fun with all types of colours, styles and sizes, the wig lady asked me what I wanted to do with my last bit of hair: leave it or take it off. I knew what I wanted right away: get rid of it! I was pretty surprised about the fact that after a week and a half of panicking, denying and hiding what was happening. The wig specialist was able to explain it well: ‘Your hair used to be a beautiful, voluminous, glossy friend, but it is now an enemy that is making you unhappy. Makes sense that you want to get rid of it.’
‘As I was looking at my beautiful, round head from every angle, I thought ‘lucky me, this is actually all right’
One week later, I was back at the wig salon to pick up my wig and have my last bits of hair shaved. My mom, my oldest sister and I were all quite nervous about that moment because we didn’t know how I would feel when I was completely bald. But I immediately felt relieved. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I met a new friend: my beautiful, round head. As I was looking at it from every angle, I thought ‘lucky me, this is actually all right’. The seed of acceptance was planted.