Photo: Meg O'Donnell
Our bodies have their own unique ways of telling us when something isn’t right, and Hair is one of their many methods of communication. While split ends are simply a way of telling you to be kinder to your strands, and a few rogue chin hairs are no cause for concern, other signs might indicate that something more serious is happening with your Health.
My husband actually showed me how to safely shave my chin and it's hilarious because we sometimes stand in the tub shaving together.
Jess was officially diagnosed with PCOS at 29 but had to start shaving as young as nine years old; she tells Refinery29 that one of her biggest fears was that she’d never get married. “My thought was, 'I'm hairy and therefore ugly.' I'd wax or shave or do whatever I could to hide that I was hairy, but my husband and I lived together very early on so it became more difficult to hide what I was doing. It was mainly my facial hair that made my life miserable — the rest I could deal with — but having hairs on my chin and cheeks was too much!”
After years of waxing, shaving, and laser hair removal, Jess says she stopped allowing PCOS to affect her body image as well as her relationship. “My husband actually showed me how to safely shave my chin, and it's hilarious because we sometimes stand in the tub shaving, and then I realize how awfully lucky I am to have found him.”
Although it’s the most common, PCOS isn’t the only condition that can lead to excess body and facial hair. Hormonal changes are a massive trigger of facial hair, which means pregnant or menopausal women are more likely to experience growth, but Dr. Bhargava tells Refinery29 that hirsutism is also often a side-effect of medications such as danazol, used for endometriosis, or fluoxetine, the antidepressant sold as Prozac. “Obesity can also result in increased androgen production, [and] anorexia, or other disorders resulting in malnutrition, can cause generalized excess hair growth over the whole body.”
The fact that I’m running away from it means I’m running away from myself. If I want to have a solid relationship with myself I have to also build a relationship with the parts of myself that I don’t necessarily like.
There are so many potential triggers for hair loss that pinpointing the exact reason why yours is falling out becomes tricky, but Kingsley explains that most hair loss is reactive, triggered by an internal imbalance. “The most common causes are vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Crash dieting, lack of dietary protein, a period of being unwell, stress, pregnancy and thyroid imbalances can also be triggers,” she says.
“I decided that I was just tired of trying to hide something that isn’t going to go away. The fact that I’m running away from it means I’m running away from myself. If I want to have a solid relationship with myself, I have to also build a relationship with the parts of myself that I don’t necessarily like.”
Considering how many health conditions affect not only the appearance but sheer existence of hair, surely it's time to shake off the taboos surrounding baldness and hirsutism. “The emphasis on our physical appearances exists because we’ve been taught to attach our value to our appearance, so we hyper-critizise our bodies,” says the Slumflower, “but we also have a soul and energy, as well.” Dr. Diller agrees, saying that self-esteem shouldn’t rely exclusively on our appearance: “Feeling confident in who you are goes a long way in portraying real beauty.”