‘A little boy in my class was the first one to say something about it: ‘Miss, you have a bald spot on your head.’ I had noticed it too, but I just thought: oh, it’ll grow back. I had thick, blonde curls - there was enough hair. As my ponytail slowly got thinner and thinner, I continued thinking it wasn’t that bad. It was only when a friend who is a doctor said something about it that I decided to go to the doctor. He knew right away: Alopecia. He referred me to a dermatologist, who gave me anti-inflammatory injections on my scalp every six weeks. There was no evidence that it worked, but in March it started to grow back. Problem solved, I thought. Little did I know: a year later, in the same month, December, I lost my hair again.
I tried to wait as long as possible, but in March, my hair was so thin that I decided I wanted a wig after all. If you want to have curls, you can only buy a synthetic wig, so that’s what I did. It was uncomfortably hot and I couldn’t even wear it in a ponytail. That’s why one time in the summer, I went to school with a cap, but the school principal didn’t like that. The kids weren’t allowed to do that, so why would I be? All my students knew that their teacher didn’t have hair anymore, I had brought it up at the PTA meeting. ‘If you want to see it, I can take take my wig off for a second’, I said. Half of the kids wanted that. Their reaction was really sweet: from ‘I think you look beautiful like this too’ to ‘you still have some hair, you know’.
In the summer holidays I ended up deciding to say goodbye to my last bit of hair. Even though I only had three strands of hair left, it still made me cry. It felt so definitive: I was now entering a phase of my life without hair. I found it scary the first time I went out in just a hat, because it was so obvious that no curls came out of it. But it started to get better soon after that. When I was on holiday in Italy, I dared to go to the beach with my bald head. ‘Just apply a lot of SPF 50, put on a bikini and off into the sea’, I told myself. It felt completely okay. When I was sitting on a terrace, a Dutch woman started talking to me. Her husband had Alopecia too, but he sat at home all day long. He didn’t even want to go to the swimming pool. I found that really sad.
After the summer, my parents gave me a beautiful wig made of real hair as a present. I didn’t mind that I couldn’t have curly hair anymore. I finally have the hairstyle I always wanted to have now. My son says I look 21 with my new hairstyle. Sometimes I forget that I look different now. I always say hello to people on the street, but they don’t always recognize me. And if they do see that it’s me, we stop for a bit, of course. Ideally, I would love to just go out bald, like in Italy, but all those questions and staring faces put me off. I’d like to talk about it, but I don’t want any ‘How terrible for you’ kind of reactions. Just say: ‘Cool, new hair!’. Done. I’m not ill and definitely not pitiful, because I still have so much. My moustache and bikini line, for example. Ironic, isn’t it? I’m very happy with my eyebrows and eyelashes, and I also wear more makeup now than I used to. Another example: I can get ready much faster in the morning.
The main thing I have to say is this: let’s not overcomplicate things. If I’m playing hockey, I only wear a cap or a sweat band, and no one is surprised about it. When I offered my wig to a teammate at a birthday party, we all laughed about it. At home, my wig is just on the table, the kids don’t even notice it anymore. My husband still calls me ‘Curly’, he still sees me as the same person. Secretly I still hope that my hair will grow back one day. I love squeezing my long hair after showering. But if this is my fate, I’m happy to be a part of it. Let this happen to me, I can handle it.