How Losing My Hair Forced Me To Finally Love Myself

Gabrielle Lutze

We all have things we like about ourselves, some of which can be pretty weird.

You might adore your eyes, or you might like your boobs, but only when you're wearing that certain top.

It's not vain, and it's not being cocky. It's natural and important to have something you actually like about yourself, especially when you secretly hate everything else. It creates a nice balance.

Yeah, of course I'd love to be that lucky person, who looks in the mirror and glows with delight at what they see. Unfortunately, establishing that kind of confidence takes time, so for now, I'll happily love one thing about my appearance to make up for hating the rest.

Personally, I loved my hair. My locks, just shy of jet black, were my pride and joy.

My lion's mane was long and thick, and everyone would compliment me on how beautiful my hair was. Was it naturally so long? Did I curl it? Was it naturally so dark?

Obviously, I enjoyed these compliments. When someone says you're pretty, your natural reaction is probably to shout in their face, "Are you blind? Are you being sarcastic?" Well, that's my initial reaction, at least.

But when someone complimented my hair, I couldn't help but smile and agree. Yes, it looked damn good. I'd spent 20 minutes that morning doing a classic Hollywood wave, so I welcomed the admiration for my handy work.

As luck would have it, thanks to failing health and illness, my body took a huge hit. With stress added to an already stressful situation, my hair fell out.

Every morning, my stomach would drop as I brushed through it and watched clumps fall into my lap. I avoided washing it for as long as possible, as wet bunches of hair would circle my feet in the shower, making me want to cry. I stopped using any heat on it. I was trying my best to save anything I could, but nothing worked.

Within the span of three months, my hair went from thick, luscious locks that curled around my hip to straw-like strands, sticking out in broken, uneven lengths and barely touching my shoulder.

With my hair went my self-esteem. It was heartbreaking.

I didn't want to leave the house, and I didn't want to see anyone. No amount of hair conditioning or vitamins was helping my hair grow or return to its healthy state again.

I didn't look or feel like me anymore. My favorite outfits didn't look the same, old pictures made me sad and getting ready in the morning was no longer fun or exciting. Instead, it was full of dread, and it usually ended with me giving up and crying on the floor.

And of course, people commented on my hair. Why had I cut it? What had I done? I had such lovely hair.

I didn't have the heart to tell them it wasn't done on purpose. It was unavoidable, and thanks to my failure of a body, I'd probably never have nice hair again.

It took me almost two years to finally accept the state of my hair. And in those two years, it never grew any longer or got any healthier.

I experimented with different cuts or styles to try and feel better, but eventually, I resorted to extensions to make me feel more like myself.

It's sad to think I had attached so much of my self-worth to something as mediocre as hair. Losing it forced me to realize I had more to offer the world than beach waves and loose curls. It made me reevaluate myself and recognize how lucky I was. My health could have been much worse, and my hair could have been the least of my problems.

I felt shallow and ashamed that I stopped living my life because of the length of my stupid hair. I'll never have natural, long locks ever again, and I've finally accepted that.

I've learned to try hard to love myself how I am. It isn't always easy, and the world is a tough place when you can't stand what you see in the mirror. But I'm taking baby steps to get there.

Who knows? Maybe some day, I'll ditch the extensions for good and finally feel comfortable in my own skin.