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Haircuts Are Hard and These 21 Mighties Agree

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When you live with a health condition, hygiene can become an uphill battle. Teeth go unbrushed, showers may be forsaken, and for a lot of people, hair becomes a challenge. Sure, to some people, hair is just hair. For others, it’s not that simple.

Physical and mental health conditions can severely impact not only how we treat our hair, but also the styles and maintenance of it all. Like any relationship, it’s completely fair and valid to have a complicated relationship with your hair due to life with a health condition, and that’s why a lot of people end up trimming, cutting, or even chopping their hair off.

We reached out to The Mighty’s community to see what their relationship was with not only their hair but also hair cuts.

Here’s what they had to say:

Getting my hair cut is how I practice self-care:

“Getting my hair done really helps with my major depressive disorder (MDD). It’s also an escape from the brain fog and pain from my fibromyalgia. For those few hours, I can feel normal again.”

“I wear a bold haircut that is colored in the front and top. It’s my statement to the world. You can knock me down but I’m getting back up. Just a little bit of ‘F you’ to those that like to hurt me. So I face the anxiety of the drive to the salon and find that once I’m done, I’m very relieved.”

I cut it myself so I can accommodate my needs or sensitivities better:

“I cut my own hair and have been lucky to keep it short and manageable. I miss the thought of having your hair done for pleasure, though – as it’s always dependent on how much energy I’ve got versus how I can manage. To explain having a hairdresser cause pain and relapse is so alien to people, they can’t truly understand. Same as having a bath!”

“‘I started cutting my own hair with help from my daughter at the start of the pandemic. I’m immunocompromised so I stay away from public spaces. I have a short bob because muscle weakness makes my arms too tired to comb long hair. At this point, I’ve figured out how to cut a cute bob! Plus, I don’t go anywhere but doctors’ offices so it’s not like it matters if I mess up.”

“I started cutting my own hair because my neck instability can’t take the aggressive combing and pulling stuff. With long hair, I cut it twice a year and I usually split it in two days.”

“I’ve had a super shaggy layered cut for years that I can cut a bit off at a time, never makes me too tired, and I can ignore it as long as I need to. I add random color streaks every now and then for fun. Because I’m immunocompromised, I’m scared to go out for anything other than emergencies. Finding ways to be shaggy from home has helped me stay safer.”

I keep it simple:

“As a Black woman, I simply stop relaxing, coloring it. I just cut it down to a very short, very cute little afro. Wash and go. I only go to the shop to keep my hair shaped into my tiny little afro.”

“I hate sitting in a chair too long, my neck and shoulders hurt. I wear my hair long: easy to put up, and less salon time.”

“I have no hair due to chemotherapy. No need for haircuts or shaving, either! One of the silver linings in the cloud of cancer.”

I never have the energy to get it cut so I let it grow:

“I struggle with leaving the house and keeping appointments when I make them. I used to take great pride in my hair, regularly having it done, but now I’m lucky to visit my hairstylist about once or twice a year.”

“I tend to let my hair go rogue. If I have a fibro flare, forget the hair cut – everything hurts so don’t touch me.”

“It takes me days to talk myself into going. Afterward, I want to be an ostrich and hide my head.”

“I never have the energy, nor can I plan ahead and know if I’ll be well enough in a week’s time. My hair is down past my waist and is horrible to wash and dry but I can’t think of a way around it.”

My mental health makes it tough:

Social anxiety and depression makes me put it off for ages, despite knowing how much a haircut helps my mental health and how needing it cut really makes me feel bad about myself. Now, with COVID-19 and restrictions lifting, I’m putting it off more than ever.”

“Going to the salon usually makes me anxious. The stylist usually tries to make small talk and there’s only so much you can talk about the weather or your job, what you’re doing over the weekend, etc. I find small talk to be incredibly awkward and uncomfortable.”

“Visiting a hairdresser has always been an emotionally draining experience for me due to body dysmorphic disorder. Being forced to sit with my own reflection for any period of time is extremely challenging and has often resulted in panic attacks and suicidal ideation. In recent years, I’ve asked my hairdresser to cover the mirror with something, explaining that I have severe body image issues. This has worked out OK for me up until now, but it’s always a dreadful experience and one that carries with it so much shame for me.”

My physical health makes it tough:

“I have trigeminal neuralgia (which involves severe facial pain) that is set off by the slightest touch. Having someone hovering around my head is very stressful. I tense up waiting and watching for my stylist to accidentally brush against the side of my face. Even when she doesn’t, the anticipation and resulting tension bring on other symptoms. It’s a shame because it used to be such a pleasure to have beauty treatments. Now, instead of making me feel good, I dread it.”

It takes a team of people to manage my hair cuts:

“My mum usually cuts my hair. I keep it shorter than I used to because it’s easier to brush, wash and look after in general.”

Finding creative solutions make it easier:

“The people at my hair salon know that I come in with my hair prewashed (I get dizzy when I lean back into [the sink]) and they know by now that I like to be in and out as fast as possible. I always call ahead to see when a good time is for a walk-in to make sure there isn’t a wait.”

“I have multiple chemical sensitivities, including fragrance. So I’m letting it grow out, and I’m actually enjoying having it long! I try to wash it no more than twice a week, and I rarely heat style my hair anymore. I’m noticing a lot less breakage and fewer split ends. It’s much less maintenance. I get my sister to trim and color it a couple of times a year.”

“I do it myself, or with a helper, to get the cut that I really want. I started doing it because I couldn’t afford to pay for haircuts that made me feel bad about myself. But I’m also letting it grow out! I keep the sides and back buzzed and let the top grow long. It’s the style I want, but couldn’t seem to get from a hairdresser, even when I asked specifically.”

Getty image by redshorts

Originally published: February 28, 2022
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