“I won’t apologise for being bald”
The shock of being diagnosed with alopecia left Victoria Short, 25, grieving for her hair, but she has learnt to hold her head up high, she tells Christine Fieldhouse
Victoria Short had goldenbrown, glossy locks, and when she lost a patch of hair on top of her head at the age of 13, she scraped her hair up high into a ponytail to hide her bald spot. But nine years later, Victoria was running her fingers through her hair when she found another bald patch – this time on the left-hand side of her head. Soon others followed, all on the left side, but all fairly easy to conceal.
Victoria, who works in public relations, was concerned enough to go and see her doctor, who said the hair might grow back, but if it didn’t there wasn’t much he could do. He diagnosed Victoria with alopecia, the medical term for hair loss, and six weeks later, by the time Victoria saw a dermatologist she had three or four more patches, all the size of a small coin. She then saw a trichologist – a hair and scalp specialist – but no one managed to halt her hair loss.
“Soon the patches were starting to join together. I left the trichologist feeling bereft and traumatised. I was starting to struggle to cover my hair loss up,” says Victoria, who lives in Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, UK.
“It took nine months for the hair to fall out of my head, and seven months for the rest of my body. It was a tough time. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t. I took each day as it came.
“But I soon realised I was lucky. Some of the women with alopecia that I’ve met have told me they went to bed with hair at night, and by morning it had fallen out. Those nine months gave me the chance to adjust rather than having baldness dumped on me in one go.”
Far from feeling sorry for herself, Victoria, now 25, has stayed as positive as possible. “I’ve always been phenomenally confident in my own skin and that helped me adjust, but I did go through a stage of grieving. The emotion that was the hardest to deal with was guilt. I felt guilty about being upset over something as trivial as losing my hair.
“But when I was feeling rubbish, I played the silver lining game. I told myself I didn’t have to buy shampoo, rush home to wash my hair, or spend hours styling it.”
The turning point came when Victoria discovered a wig business set up by a fellow alopecia sufferer. “I got 12 wigs in the end, including a long one, like my old hair, a long curly one, and a pixie cut.
“Each day I wear a different one, or some days I don’t wear one at all. My clients know I might turn up bald and they’re fine about that! Going bald has taken some getting used to, but I decided I wasn’t going to apologise for who I was. Some