The Advantages of Being Bald

Now that the hair on my head has been gone for a few days, I’ve discovered several advantages to being bald. First and foremost: no bad hair days. My hair is baby fine and wispy, so it was always very difficult to get it to look good day after day. And I’m all thumbs when it comes to styling my hair. I finally gave up and went for cuts that I could just throw in some gel, scrunch, and go. My hair never looked the same two days in a row no matter what I did.

Another plus, I was always having to use a hairband to keep hair off my face when using a facial scrub or a masque, otherwise half of the gunk ended up in my hair and I would have to wash it again.

It doesn’t take as long to shower in the morning because I don’t have to shampoo and condition my hair. And I don’t have to spend time messing with it after I’m dressed.

I can change the hat/scarf/wig I’m wearing on any day to match my mood and/or my outfit.

I’m saving money on shampoo and conditioner and gel. All I need is a quick wipe over with the washcloth and I’m done.

No hair to clog the drains.

No hair all over my pillow to get up my nose and wrapped in my eyelashes.

No stray hairs getting stuck in my glasses and driving me nuts waving in front of my eyes.

I’m sure there are more advantages, but these are ones I thought of this morning.

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Fatigue

Chemo went well today, although there was a moment of panic when no blood was being pulled out of the port; that’s never a good thing. But fortunately it worked on the 2nd try. The site is still tender and poking it more than once with a needle isn’t fun! So the infusions went well and only took about 4 hours.

The main side effect I seem to be having is bone-crushing fatigue. Consequently, my treatment team strongly suggested that I not go to work for the rest of this year and they will re-evaluate in early January. I was only putting in a couple of hours a day at most, because that’s all I could handle. But they are concerned that those hours will deplete my strength even more, and I need my strength to fight off this dreadful disease. (I would much rather be at work than having to fight cancer! But I don’t have a choice.) So I’m hoping my disability policy I’ve been paying on for a year and a half will pay out like they’re supposed to. And of course now I wish I had paid a little more and bought the cancer policy – but hindsight is always 20-20 isn’t it?

So I’m spending my days reading, writing, napping, and playing on the computer. And when I feel up to it, venturing outside the house to the store or to take pictures. Being out in nature is rejuvenating, so I try to at least sit on the back patio for a little while each day for fresh air and sunshine.

My hair is continuing to thin but isn’t falling out in chunks yet – I’ve been told it will. Oh, joy! But I’m prepared, at least physically with hats and scarves and a possible wig. Mentally, I’m not sure one can be prepared for that sort of thing. I admire those women who can go out with bald heads uncovered, and who knows, maybe I will reach that point, too. Because we all know that ‘bald is beautiful’, right?

Body Image

We women have bodies in every size and shape. The range of hair color is amazing. Eye color, too. So why are we never satisfied with what we have, with the way our bodies look? We are short and tall, thin and not-so-thin, have hair that is blonde, brunette, black, red; that’s wavy, curly, or straight. Our eyes are brown, blue, hazel, green, violet, black. Whatever we have we want something different. If we’re short, we wish we were tall; if we have straight hair, we wish it was curly; if we have curly hair, we wish it was straight. Some of these things we can change; colored contact lenses, perms, straighteners, hair dyes. But our bodies are something different. We can’t be what we are not, even though there are those out there who tell us we can.

And I’m not totally blameless here, either. I’m short and wished I were taller. I’ve never, ever, had a perfectly flat belly. I’ve fought my weight since puberty. Then somewhere around the age of 50, I began to truly understand that I would never have the body I thought I wanted. My body is determined to stay the shape it is and nothing I can do will change that.

I came of age in the 60s, when Twiggy was the latest thing in fashion. Her boyish body made all of us feel fat, even if we weren’t. Fashion model figures are unobtainable for almost all of us, so why do we still try? The few top fashion models are fortunate that they have the body shape and bone structure to look the way they do. And they have to work hard at maintaining that famined look. I was happy to see there is an 80 something fashion model who is still working; that there are more models out there with curves instead of sharp angles; and there are now plus-sized models who are well-known.

Change comes slowly to society, and it has to be demanded by the majority, and it has to be sold as absolutely necessary. I often ponder some of the things we women are expected to do and be. Who decided that hair on women’s legs and underarms was a bad thing and should be removed? Who decided that women wearing dresses or skirts had to wear stockings or pantyhose, or tights? And who decided that women’s breasts had to be confined and constrained in corsets and bras? Who came up with the idea that women had to wear makeup to look good? Many of us have bought into these ideas and now can’t imagine not doing some of these things. We were raised to think these were good; not doing them was bad. I admire the women with enough courage to break the mold. They are the women we should appreciate as good role models.

I have learned to love my body. It is the only one I will have in this life and still works wonderfully well considering how old it is. It isn’t perfect by society’s standards, but it’s perfect for me, and that’s what’s important. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never have a model’s body; that I will never be tall; that clothes never fit quite right. But I can also alter clothes so they do fit well; I can carry myself with good posture and grace; I can continue to eat healthy foods and exercise with the goal of being fit. I have this one body, this one life, and feel blessed to have it.