I had a haircut today.
And sitting in that chair, as my hair dresser exclaims, “You’ve got so much hair!” I remember the long journey that has brought me here.
You see, during my anorexia, my hair fell out. I mean, literally all of it. Not just like, “Oh my hair’s thinning!” No. We’re talking…I lost about 90% of my hair, and was left with about two inches of peach fuzz.
It’s no secret that anorexia ravages the body, mind, and spirit. Muscles deteriorate, the reproductive system shuts down, digestion and metabolism slows to a halt as the body enters starvation mode, the circulatory system limps along – making the body as cold as ice. But when you’re so dangerously malnourished and depleted, everything that’s non-essential gets left behind as your body literally does everything it can to keep your heart beating. Everything it can to keep you alive.
So, I lost my hair.
Now you’ve got to understand, my hair has always been my trademark. I’m just going to be honest here — a little #RealTalk: — I’ve always had a great head of hair. It’s always been thick, long, and really curly — big flowing ringlets. Not to sound like I’m bragging — but it’s distinctive — memorable. And it’s kind of a parallel of who I am: it matches my goofy, crazy, spontaneous personality. 🙂
So needless to say, it was devastating to lose my hair.
There’s nothing more feminine or more attractive than female hair. It shows grace and gentleness. It’s touchable, making a woman inviting and alluring. In a word: it is beautiful.
So in losing my hair, ED made me believe that I deserved to be hideous. I felt that my outside finally matched my insides. That it was fitting that I look so ghastly and without hair, because my insides were black with ugliness of soul and spirit.
To be completely honest, I had never felt so low in my life. And it took a long time to grow out. Probably about 5-6 months when it was all said and done.
So what did I learn from it? What did I learn from that incredibly humbling and devastating experience?
I learned where my beauty came from.
You see, my hair fell out during my relapse. It had thinned dramatically during the onset of my anorexia, but managed to “hang on” for dear life. It was when I relapsed that it truly all fell out.
So during the “peach fuzz” — or, growing out phase — I was at home, where I would truly recover once and for all. So during the emotionally painful time where I was mourning the loss of what I thought was my most feminine, beautiful possession, I was surrounded by a tremendous support system: my family.
And it was during this time that I really truly clung to Jesus, and chose life.
You see, losing my hair was really the nail in the coffin. I had already thought I lost everything: my friends, my college plans, the trust of my loved ones, my relationship with God, my body, my health, my confidence, my personality. But my hair was the final straw. Standing in front of the mirror — gaunt, lifeless, without passion, and without hair — I truly had nothing left. I had actually found the bottom of rock bottom.
And so I had nowhere to turn but to Jesus.
And so I clung to Him. I clung to His word. I clung to the Truth, and that’s what began to heal my heart and my spirit – which led to the healing of my body. It was nothing that I did or didn’t do. It was Jesus doing the work for me. I just had to let Him. I just had to allow Him to love me and accept it.
But back to the hair.
I’m not going to lie: believing what I’m about to tell you didn’t happen overnight. I’m not going to tell you that 3 days after losing my hair and having to chop it off at the ears, I was gung ho in believing these things. No. It took time. And persistence. And finally, surrendering.
So without further ado:
I learned that my beauty comes from Jesus.
My beauty comes from the fact that Jesus is living inside of my heart and shines out through me.
Now, that could sound incredibly conceited, if it wasn’t for the fact that I don’t deserve for Him to live inside of me. Seriously. I mean, I have F’d up so many times in my life, that Jesus should be running the other way in sheer horror. But He doesn’t. He’s not afraid of what I’ve done. He still loves me. And He still loves you.
And the fact that you and I are so incredibly loved and are so incredibly precious to Him, is what makes us beautiful. It’s not the clothes that we wear. It’s not the way we wear our make up or paint our nails. It’s not dependent upon the numbers on the scale, our BMI or a thigh gap. It’s not even dependent upon our hair. Our beauty comes from Christ.
When I allowed Jesus into my heart, He began to change things. He began to change me. I forgave myself of all the horrible things I did and said and lied about during my disease. He began to help me adopt full recovery. He began to feed the spirit that was dead inside of me. And in doing so, His light began to shine through me.
I mean, we’ve heard it 1000 times: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…” I mean, that song is up there with the Oompa Loompa song in level of annoyingness. But it’s been repeated because it is the truth.
I learned that my beauty and my value does not come from my hair. When it’s gone, folks, it’s gone. And I had to figure out a way to go on. So Jesus helped me. Everyday. He would whisper the Truth to me: That I am Loved. That I am precious because I am His daughter. That He died for me because He is so crazy in love with me. And I am beautiful because I am His. And guess what: that truth that Jesus was telling me was the exact contradiction to all the lies and bullshit that ED tries to feed me. And so by listening to Jesus’ Truth, there was no room in my head for ED’s lies. And that’s when the true healing — the real recovery — took place.
Jesus said in John 15:4, “Remain in me and I will remain in you.”
Every day – every moment – I have to stay focused on Jesus and His truth. I have to remain in Him. And in doing so, He remains in me. He dwells in my heart. And that’s where my beauty and my worth comes from.
So I guess, at the end of the day, I’m kinda glad my hair fell out. Because it was only when I had actually lost everything — hair included — that I finally said to myself, “OK, I guess there really is only one place to go from here.” And that was into Jesus’ arms.
So now, as my hair dresser complains about how cutting my hair takes twice as long as her other clients due to the volume and sheer amount of hair I have, I just smile and think about how it has come full circle.
My hair is a sign of victory. A sign of victory over the bodily devastation from anorexia, yes. But even more so than that, it’s a victory in learning where my beauty comes from. Where my worth comes from. A victory in knowing who I am in Christ.
My hair is not my most prized possession: it’s my heart.
18 responses to “What I Learned from Losing My Hair”
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I lost my hair to chemotherapy, but I felt the same level of devastation you did. Now as it grows back (ever so slowly) I am learning the truth of where my real beauty comes from too. Thanks for putting my thoughts into words.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. Yes, your beauty glows from within 🙂 I feel for you, friend. I hope your growing process is speedy 🙂 hugs xx
‘the bottom of rock bottom”
Some may not understand what this means or where it is, but I know exactly where it was for me and how it felt to be there. I also remember the self-loathing, the pain, and the hopelessness that accompanied my arrival there, and I am forever humbly grateful to God for loving me more than I was ever capable of loving myself.
I am glad you survived your arrival there as well, and while it is obvious that you remember that arrival with what must be painful, if not sorrowful, clarity, you provide a stunning example of how God’s mercy and grace toward you, and His love FOR you, all combine to give you the strength, courage, wisdom, and desire to recount your journey to help light a path for others.
Thanks Tony it saddens me that we have this to connect with but wow praise God for his deliverance🙌🙌 have a great afternoon friend 😊
‘I am Loved… I am precious because I am His daughter… He died for me because He is so crazy in love with me.’ How beautifully put! This love is the root and the heart of our relationship with Jesus and our Father. The great sadness is that we take so long to learn this and suffer so much along the way. We are His lovely children and can only be truly happy when we return His love. Today I saw a mother with her little daughter walking hand in hand, laughing and stopping for a kiss. The loveliest thing is that the hand the little girl held was very disfigured, without fingers, yet neither of them cared at all. Neither, I am sure, would they have if it was the other way around. I can’t say any more. Thank you for this post.
Hi Anthony! Thank you so much for this beautiful response. Wow, what a powerful exchange you witnessed. Thanks for sharing that. You’re right: there is so much power in and with His love for us. Thanks for reading xox
Hi I’m currently going through something similar. My hair is the only attractive thing about me and it’s the only thing I’ve ever been even a little bit confident about. And now it’s falling out in HANDFULS and has been for a few months. Before I’d break hair bands trying to tie my curls up and now you can see my scalp. . I’m so worried it’s all going to go and know I need to just accept that this is my body’s reaction to me starving myself for 3 months or so. May I ask how long it took for your hair to grow back to initial thickness? Well done by the way, congratulations on beating anorexia! Inspiration to us all.
Hi friend, I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. I can definitely sympathize. For me, my hair started growing back once I was getting consistent and adequate nutrition. But it took a few months. When you initially start restoration, the nutrition goes to rebuilding the vital organs first, and unfortunately the hair is kinda the last thing to come back. But hang in there. Keep nourishing your body and giving it the energy and nutrition it so desperately needs. Know I am cheering you on in your recovery! Hugs and love xox
I see and feel the symbolism of this. I don’t know if you intended to use the phrase, “hit the nail on the coffin,” but I feel like Jesus spoke to you during the hair loss. I recall your art project. A coffin with confetti on the inside. Being stripped away of everything. Jesus allowing your hair to be gone was a last thread you could hold to, He WANTED YOU! And you did turn to Him.
And wow…that’s powerful. <3 I'm so glad you now are tossing confetti out of your hand to others, and sharing the love, and encouragement.
Gosh thank you. Yeah, that was so hard to lose my hair. As a young woman, I just felt so worthless without it. But it was all part His refining process and I will Rest in His goodness. Thanks again xox
I have a fear of balding.
It runs through my mom’s side of the family. I have always had wonderful hair (we can relate to each other), so the idea of balding is frighteningly dreadful for me. So I fully understand how it must have been to have your hair start falling out and having that be the final straw. Granted, I will never claim that I went through such a process as you do, but I admire your strength and perseverance to overcome all that.
Your hair is quite fantastic.
Thank you for sharing! I’m currently in this situation too. The hair loss (or me noticing that it had got so significant) due to my recent relapse is the final straw for me too. It gave me the kick in the butt that I needed to go all in and stop abusing the body God gave me.
May I know if you did any thing (supplements etc) to regrow the hair, or was it just down to eating enough consistently for a few months? I’m very worried and would do anything for the hair loss to stop and for my hair to grow back.
thanks Beverly for sharing your story. i am sorry that this hits so close to home. you can beat this, i believe in you and am cheering for you!! honestly, it was truly just adequately and consistently nourishing my body which regrew my hair. i’m sure that hair supplements would help, but that’s putting a bandaid on and not getting to the core issue: nutrition. you got this!!!!! Hugs and love xox
Thank you very much for replying Carolyn! It really means a lot to me. I’m just trying hard to keep my eyes on Jesus and focus on nourishing myself and not worrying about my hair. It’s really hard and feels lonely, but your story and blog gives me hope. Thank you!
Absolutely. Yes – keep your eyes on Him!! Praying for you!