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The bald truth (03/21/2012)
By Frances Edstrom

I didnít think Spring would come so soon. As you might have read, I am going through chemo and as a result my hair ďthinnedĒ (as health care personnel like to say euphemistically). It thinned so much you could see large patches of my scalp. A comb-over wasnít in the cards, because every time I put a comb in my hair it brought the hair out with it. My daughter shaved most of my hair off, but left a little to peek out of the knit caps my sister made for me. This all worked out beautifully when it was cold out.

Now, it is warm out. My knit caps are too hot. Last Sunday, I asked my sister to shave off the little wisps of remaining hair, so now Iím bald, bald as in no hair at all. If only this were a fashion statement for women as it is for men, ala Bruce Willis. But no, I am just a woman missing hair.

My wig looks pretty good, but requires constant vigilance in windy conditions. And it isnít as comfortable as pulling on one of my sisterís hand knit caps. I save it for special occasions. Instead, I wear a yellow baseball cap most of the time. So now I look like a bald lady in a baseball cap.

Being bald has big advantages. I never have a bad hair day, my morning routine is shortened considerably, I never get ďhat hair,Ē and I donít have to decide whether to tuck my hair behind my ears or let it hang over my face. And of course there is no gray hair, so I donít have to color it.

But there is a down side. For one, itís hard to know where to put foundation make-up. Where do you stop? Do you smear it on your entire head? And then thereís the comfort factor. Hair is an insulator. Bald heads, even in baseball caps, really feel the breeze. Bald heads sunburn. What about washing a bald head ó body soap or shampoo? (I did find among Johnís things a bottle of billiard ball cleaner, but I donít want my head to shine.)

We havenít even discussed the looks you get, and the people who want to look under the cap you are wearing to cover your head ó why? Like theyíve never seen a bald head? If they want to see a bald head, there are plenty of guys with proudly bald heads to look at, including my husband.

When Morgan first shaved off all my hair, Peyton, 5, laughed and said I looked like a boy. When I shaved off Johnís hair, Andie, who is just 3, told her babysitter that John ďlooks like a boy now.Ē Apparently she has absolutely no idea of accepted gender roles and that sort of thing, and misunderstood her sisterís reference. But John kind of liked it, because he is choosing to think that Andie means he looks a lot younger.

Now I wait for hair to grow back. Hair apparently grows about half an inch a month. Although as we age, hair growth slows down to about a tenth of an inch a month. Iím wondering what age they are talking about. So I have at least a year to grow my hair to as long as it was before I shaved my head. Until then I look nothing like the photo that accompanies this column. And Iím still mulling whether growing hair is worth it at all. 


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