Years ago, my normally thick, lush hair began to thin in the front. I noticed it one night in the bathroom of a French English private school where I was taking a beginning French class. When I looked in the mirror as I washed my hands the fluorescent lights backlit my hairline revealing hair so thin that I could see through to my scalp about 6 inches back.
I felt sick, my stomach twisted into knots. “Welp, my worst nightmare is coming true.” I said to myself. “I’m going bald at 29.”
I walked back to class paranoid that the fluorescent lights were acting as a spotlight on my bald patch. I learned no French that night and just counted the minutes until the bell rang and I could run home and study my scalp in my own dimly lit bathroom mirror, hoping I could convince myself that it was just weird lighting that was the problem.
Back home I checked in my bathroom mirror. Nope…I was going bald. How though???? I started researching why I would be losing my hair when no one, men or women, have hair loss in my family. The internet told me that it could be a few different things. The first one was tight braiding. I had been doing intricate french braids for years. “That could definitely be it.” I said to myself.
Then there was stress. I was waitressing and bartending and doing my plant business and trying to dig myself out of debt and bad relationships. “Maybe it was just stress.” I thought.
The stress wasn’t going anywhere for a few more years but I could at least stop braiding. I kept my hair down or in very loose ponytails from then on and obsessively studied my hairline for improvement. After a few months it did seem like it was improving and that baby hairs were starting to fill in my scalp. When I entered intense overhead fluorescent light environments the light no longer permeated my hair and reflected off my scalp. I started to breathe a big sigh of relief. It wasn’t genetic.
I started to that although not braiding did help, my hair growth and loss went in weird patterns. Like it would start growing for a few months and then the front would thin out again. After my first ear surgery, when I had to stop surfing for a few months, I noticed that my hair was coming in really thick and healthy again, but why?
Then it dawned on me. Holy cow, my late twenties was when I started surfing with a hooded wetsuit! The inconsistent growth patterns were in sync with when I wasn’t surfing from either an injury or because the surf was bad for a long period of time. My hood was rubbing right at the front of my hair line, buffering off a small patch of my hair!
So I had to make the painful decision to quit…worrying about my stupid hairline! I’m not going to stop wearing a hooded wetsuit and then freeze, get head colds or have to get another ear surgery from exposure to cold water. I guess I’ll just have to go have an awesome surf session and throw a beanie on right after. Fuck it, amirite?