An Open Letter About Staring, Part 1
We’ve all done it. We see someone who looks “different” and we stare a little longer than we’d like to admit. While not unique to people with trichotillomania, if you asked the majority of people with trich (or any visible hair loss) they would tell you they’ve been on the other end of those stares more times than they can count.
For the next two weeks, I’ll be talking about those stares in the form of two open letters. This week’s letter is addressed to my fellow trichsters, or anyone who has been on the receiving end of an uncomfortable glance. Next week’s letter is for anyone who has been concerned that they’ve let their eyes linger.
Dear Fellow Trichsters,
I know your greatest fear, because it was my greatest fear for years. No, I’m not talking about my fear of animals with skinny tails, extreme heights, or insects that you don’t realize can fly until they’re flying. I was terrified of someone figuring out I had trichotillomania.
Every time I talked to someone I would track their eyes. Did they notice I don’t have any eyelashes? Are they looking at the gap in my eyebrows from where I pulled last night? Did I cover up all my bald spots? Have they figured out I’m wearing a wig?
I thought everyone knew I was partially bald. Their eyes would linger on my hairline or my eyelashes, and I would sigh internally. I thought they’d finally figured it out; they’d finally seen “my flaws.”
I was obsessed - obsessed with making sure that people saw my hair as “normal.” I would avoid eye contact so they didn’t have any opportunity to see my eyelashes. I would avoid swimming and rollercoasters, so my bald spots wouldn’t accidentally show. I would miss classes in college if I felt like my hair wasn’t “right” that day.
It took many, many years (like decades), but I’m over my fear.
Whenever you walk into a room, meet someone new, or just go about your day-to-day affairs, it’s not your trichotillomania doing all those things - it’s you. People don’t meet your trichotillomania, they meet you. So what if they see your bald spots, stare at you, or even figure out you have trichotillomania? Your trichotillomania is not you, it’s one small part of who you are. When you and your trichotillomania get another stare again, let the totality of who you are shine bright, because you are more than your trichotillomania.