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.

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