Alopecia Through a Child’s Eyes

Life Lessons from Little Ones

Lady Alopecia with baby

Alopecia’s typically a serious subject. We can come up with hair-related puns, make light of our lighter heads etc…but at some point, we have to ‘fess up to the fact that it’s hard. And that even though we have days when we rock the bald, other days we’ll be camping out on rock bottom.

It’s not too hard to explain this to people with a sense of logic, whose cognitive brains have developed – i.e. to adults. But what about those important people in your life who still believe in fairies and monsters, with those incredible imaginations, who may believe you when you say you lost your hair on the bus and maybe the nice driver will return it tomorrow?!

I’m talking about kids, of course. And how you might explain your rapidly diminishing hair without a) lying to them or b) scaring them.

Lady Alopecia

Emma’s ‘not a doctor’ disclaimer
Hi there, I’m an alopecian, I’m not a doctor! Any advice I give is based on my own research and personal experiences. This site is however reader-supported. When you buy through external links, I may earn a tiny affiliate commission. Learn more here.

I’ve faced the questions before.

A little boy in a supermarket, tugging at his mum’s sleeve in unabashed horror. “Muuuum, what happened to her head?!” as the mother politely, apologetically, smiles and drags him away towards the safety of the sweets aisle. Having heard Gail Porter’s “bus response” before, I’m tempted to use it – and sometimes do – but I’ve found the best tactic is just to say the truth.

“It fell out.”
“I don’t know, really. A little came out, then more later.”
“But WHHHYY?!”
“I don’t know. Maybe it’ll come back another day. Do you think it will?”

A tentative nod, or a vigorous headshake, depending on the child’s sense of optimism for me and my bald head.

Lady Alopecia explaining-hairloss-to-children

Sometimes the encounters have been a little trickier, like with my nieces and nephews – people I definitely can’t lie to about my hair, as I’ll be seeing them again soon! During a recent trip home to Ireland, for instance, I was reunited with some of the teeny people in my life after 3 years away (thanks, COVID!). They weren’t so teeny anymore…and they had plenty of questions to ask about my head.

“Auntie Emma, why do you wear a hat?” (meaning my headscarf)
“Because I don’t want my head to get sunburned.”
“Because I don’t have any hair to cover it.”
“Wait, WHAT?! Why not?! Can I see?”

I obligingly let them pull off my scarf. Cue gasps of horror, giggles and the proclamation by my nephew that I looked like a “weirdo”. His sister was a lot more sympathetic: “I’m sorry!” she gasped. “Oh no!”

It was an interesting exercise: in not letting others’ reactions get to me.

The kids meant zero harm by their words; they were just expressing shock and surprise over seeing something so different to what they were used to. And it was refreshing, in a way: all too often I’ve encountered adults with not-so-subtle stares as I pass by, the whispers and giggles they think I can’t hear.

I wish they’d just ask me about my hair loss to my face (well, most of the time…if you read about this particular experience, you’ll know that I’d prefer some people to keep their thoughts to themselves!)

And of course, there are many times when I’m happy to pretend there’s nothing amiss, too. Just to hide under my headscarf and get on with my day. But there was no getting anything past these little detectives. Instead, I rallied together to come up with an answer they deserved: the truth.

So when my niece asked me, with her big brown eyes, whether I was sad about my hair and if I missed it, I told her I was and that I did. “Maybe it’ll grow back”, I said. “But before it does, I get to wear a different colour hat every day!”

“YEAH!” she jumped in excitedly. “And now you’re wearing a yellow one. Because you love yellow!”
“Exactly! And do you know why Auntie Emma loves yellow?”
“Because it’s the colour of happy!”

Final Thoughts: Kids can be so wise

They have a lot to teach us – like 30 seconds after this conversation, they’d moved onto something else. Not ruminating over my different hairstyle, or letting this difference affect a glorious July afternoon in the sunshine. Surely I could do the same.

When my daughter Sunny is old enough to say more words than in her current vocabulary of “bye bye” and “mama”, she may ask me about my hair, too. How can I tell her what’s going on, while preparing her for the fact that she may go through it, too?

All I can offer is the truth: Tell her it’s not easy, but it’s not everything, and that sharing with other people makes it so much easier. That’s how I’ll explain alopecia to my kid – and maybe use these words to remind myself how to handle hair loss, in case I forget.

There is more to life than hair.
There is more than ME than hair.
When I’m feeling low…Just. Wear. Yellow.

Love & hugs,

Lady Alopecia Signature

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Lady Alopecia

Alopecian. Yoga Teacher. Copywriter. Here to share information, offer support and show people the adventures that can lie in hair loss. I’m proud to have alopecia and I want to help others embrace their baldness, too!

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