My Hair and Me

Here’s one example of how we take things for granted sometimes. When I first got diagnosed, the last thing I thought RA would affect would be my ability to take care of my hair. I mean, it’s not that difficult when you think about it: you wash it, brush it, maybe use some hairspray. It’s really not hard.

I’ve always had an interesting relationship with my hair. When I was a  Freshman in high school, I decided I was bored with my current hair style and wanted to be more daring. On a whim I cut my extremely thick, shoulder-length hair into a very short pixie. It was different, it was easy to manage, and I loved it. I kept it for the next 5 years.

Me at age 16. 2007.

Me at age 16. 2007.

Then I hit my 20s, and I realized I needed a change again. So I decided to grow my hair out. It was a pain, and it involved a lot of patience, headbands, and bobby pins, but I did it and I really loved having long hair again. The options were endless. Bun? Ponytail? Curly or straight? I could now do whatever I wanted.

But then a new problem arose. My new long and thick hair knotted quite easily. I didn’t have the strength in my arms to brush out the knots. Sometimes I couldn’t even lift my arms up above my head. That meant asking my mother to brush my hair for me every night after I showered. But then I needed to make sure that it didn’t knot again in my sleep, which meant asking my sister to braid it (when Mom and I tried, our braids were an awkward mess because of our lack of dexterity).

I was beginning to get really frustrated. I had waited two years to grow my hair out again. I was supposed to be able to use hair dryers and flat irons (nope, too heavy, at least sometimes) without issue.

I realized I had a battle on my hands: my hair versus my freedom/dignity. Maybe that sounds really dramatic, but bear with me here. For many women, hair is a symbol of beauty and confidence. And here I was, with little confidence in my ability to take care of the messy mop on my head. Which in turn toyed with my self esteem. In my head, I didn’t feel beautiful anymore because I couldn’t even do the simplest of tasks. The hair had to go, but not without one last picture:

The day of the cut.

The day of the cut.

The trip to the hair salon was a bit somber. Mom came with me, and when we pulled up to the building I seriously thought about calling it off and going home. But I knew I had to do it. I had picked out a really cool cut, so at least I had something to look forward to.

And so they chopped it all off. I was back to pixie short. While I miss the length, now I had something I could manage on my own. Plus, I wasn’t getting stiff necks anymore from all of the extra weight on my head. The only bummer was that I wished I had cut it because I really wanted to, not because of necessity. But no matter. Things were gonna be okay.

I didn’t snap a photo of that haircut, but I did take one of the cut I got this past Saturday:


The after shot.

Clearly, I went shorter this time. I mean, my head is shaved except for the top. This does require a tad more maintenance than a pixie, but it’s still so much easier than long hair. I don’t even need a brush anymore! I just slap in a little gel and some hairspray and done. The great part about this cut was that I chose to go this short. This was for style, not necessity. I think it suits me, no?


5 responses to “My Hair and Me

  • Marcia

    You do rock that short pixie cut! I am struggling with losing hair to the point that it is hard to cover up the scalp. 10 years of methotrexate gets the blame. A longer style seemed to help with that, but having to fuss with a curling iron is a hard reach for my shoulders. My fingers have been itching to call for an appointment today. I teased my husband that I was just about to the point of doing “a Brittney”. It certainly does challenge our self-esteem doesn’t it!

    • apierce

      Thank you! I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose your hair. It was so tough just having to cut it again, but at the end of the day, my ability to care for myself means more to me than what I look like. Hopefully you find a hairstyle that works!

  • Beverly

    I LOVE your short hairstyle! It really looks terrific on you. I was (am) in the same situation as far as caring for longer hair. When I got a pixie four years ago, every one of my family and friends (except for my wonderful husband) made no bones that they really disliked it or HATED it. I loved it. It’s grown out again and I pretty much keep it back in a pony tail, sometimes knots and all. I know I should ignore them and cut it, but I honestly don’t know which is worse! Best to you! Bev

    • apierce

      Thank you Bev! I’m sorry to hear that people aren’t being supportive. There are still a lot of stereotypes about women with short hair. I dealt with them initially as well, but people stopped making comments when they realized I was too stubborn to listen. I hope it all works out for you.


  • kimmstree

    I love the short hair! I wish I had the guts. I envy this lady at school all the time who has like 2 in long spiked hair and is so free and happy! I’ll get there one day- spiked non-dyed, white hair! oh yeah 🙂

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