Why My Hair Is So Important to My Eating Disorder Recovery


When I was at my lowest in my battle with anorexia, my hair was long. It was almost down to my hips; it got caught in zippers and my backpack straps, but it was thin. Handfuls fell out when I showered, clogging the drains. A girl living in the same university dorm as I did straightened it for me once and kept pulling out clumps and handing them to me.

“You’re really shedding!” she said.

I did what I could to change the subject.

It took months after I began eating properly again before it stopped falling out. Around this time, I got it chopped to my shoulders. I realized in this moment that I had nothing to hide behind anymore. My hair was always bigger than me; people commented on it, it took the attention away from me. Now, you could see my face, my shoulders, my arms.

And it was thicker. It took me a while to get used to it.

I learned how to do my makeup. I learned how to style my hair in a way that made me feel pretty. I couldn’t control my body, but I could accent the features I had.

Yesterday, I got my hair dyed a balayage of pastel pink. When I sat down in the salon chair, the stylist gave my hair a once-over and said, “Your hair is so freaking healthy! It’s gorgeous!”

It is not my failing invisibility cloak anymore. It is just a part of me, just like every aspect of my body. And just like the rest of me, I am learning to love it and learning to rock it.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Lead image via contributor


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Anorexia Nervosa

this is us

The Scene From 'This Is Us' That Made Me Stop Watching as Someone With Anorexia

Dear “This Is Us” writers, directors and producers, I was excited to start watching your show at my mother’s recommendation. She profusely shared how progressive the show is and that I would enjoy it. So, we watched the first episode and all was well. I was entertained by it and we moved onto the second [...]
necklace with three rings saying friend harmony wisdom

What I've Learned Since Leaving Residential Eating Disorder Treatment

Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741. One hundred days ago, I walked out of a house in Anderson, Indiana, amidst bubbles, cheers and hugs (but no pictures cause HIPAA). I left a place [...]
beautiful woman hand drawn vector illustration

Why Weight Is Not the Only Indicator of Someone Struggling With Anorexia

Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741. “The hospital won’t take me, my weight isn’t low enough,” I say, a fake calmness in my voice. I’m staring at my mom instead of at the [...]
woman holding a cupcake with a candle

5 Truths I Want to Share on My Eating Disorder Recovery Birthday

Today is my birthday. It’s not the kind of birthday that comes with gifts and a cake ablaze with candles — it’s the bittersweet kind. It’s a day that catalyzes a deep sense of gratitude for all the people who took risks on my behalf when I was sick. It’s a day when I look [...]