This I Believe

Melissa - Los Angeles, California
Entered on September 10, 2007

I believe that of all the things in life that matter most, hair is not among them.

This summer, for some inexplicable reason, my hair started falling out like crazy. I first noticed when I looked in the mirror and saw a bare patch of skin on the top of my head. I covered it by parting my hair a different way. In the days that followed, I noticed that every time I took a shower, big hanks of hair came out. The floor of our apartment was constantly covered in hair. I left a trail of hair wherever I went, a pile of hair wherever I sat.

Last month, I finally saw a dermatologist. He said it was some sort of autoimmune reaction in which the body attacks the hair follicles. He said these sorts of things can’t necessarily be stopped with medication—sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. He said that the best-case scenario is that it all falls out and then grows back, and the worst-case scenario is that it all falls out and never grows back. You just have to wait and see.

I figured, if it’s all going to fall out anyway, at least I’d save myself the trouble of cleaning up all that hair. The next day I had my husband buzz it all off.

How do I look? Like me with a swim cap, just without the swim cap. Also, I look like a Buddhist nun. I find I’m always rubbing my hand over my head. It feels nice. I also find that I take really fast showers, and that drying off is a piece of cake. I have a Muslim friend who lent me a headscarf, which I wear three mornings a week when I teach Chinese history at a local university. The rest of the time I’m bald.

I have a pretty good feeling that this is just a bald phase, not a bald future. However, I’ve thought about it a lot, and I think that even if my hair never grows back, there are a lot worse things to be than bald. My mom recently survived a bout of cancer, and going through the diagnosis and treatment with her has adjusted my perspective on health and happiness. My body is totally healthy; it’s just that my immune system hates my hair.

Plus, I don’t have to seduce anyone. I’m Mormon, and Mormons believe that family ties are eternal. I’ve already snagged my husband and he’s stuck with me forever. He’s a wonderful person and my best friend. We have a lively and adorable son. We have a place to live and food to eat. Who could ask for anything more?

My husband and my son were going to shave their heads at the same time I did, in solidarity–but my husband has job interviews coming up, and I told him to wait until after he gets an offer.