Skip to main content

It starts from the top...

Vol. 4.1 - It's My Body, Hair

Body image! How a woman feels about herself affects her sexuality. Feeling beautiful and have self-confidence leads to better sex.
I am unable to address all body image topics in one post. There are so many issues that women face due to breast cancer. I mean, our bodies go through a lot of changes.

Body Image: Hair

One of the first questions people ask is, "Are you going to loose your hair?" The bald head is difficult for some women. And it is easy to understand why... just watch TV long enough and you will see ladies with their long luscious hair. Flipping it one way and then another.

We have had outside sources telling us for years that hair helps define the perception of a beautiful woman.

We all can say (and deep-down know) that beauty is way more than hair. BUT there is an actual feeling of loss as the your locks hit the floor. It is scary. It is empowering. It is loss. Sure you tell yourself: you don't have to pay for products or even shaving supplies for that matter... and showers are really quick. Yet, losing your hair is hard.

Women spend years and a lot of money on hair. We spend hours prepping and primping trying to look our best. Hair cuts. Hair color. Hair products. Hair accessories. We have worked hard to figure out what we think makes us attractive. Not just for our partners, but for ourselves.

With cancer, everything changes. We have to redefine our sense of beauty... and realize we have a new aesthetic... a new beauty.

Of course, we know beauty comes from the inside. We hear that as children. We say that to our kids. Beauty comes from within. However, that does not help when you stand in the mirror and just don't feel beautiful!

Approach: Knowing what bothers you

There is no one way to cope. However, one option is to control what you can.

Whether it is choosing to wear a wig or hat - or showing your baldness off - it is a decision unique to each women. We need to support whatever decision a woman makes. For me, wigs were itchy, hot, and work. Essentially, I'm too lazy to wear a wig. I opted to own my bald look (see my hair loss process here) and wear hats when I had a cold head!

However, I must admit looking at wigs was fun. Take some time to go wig shopping, bring a friend, laugh... even if you do not buy one it can fun. Now is the time to try the color or cut you never would have tried before. Why not? Have fun with it!

But the hair on your head isn't all... I never looked sick until I lost my eyebrows. Seriously, those tiny hairs made a huge difference in my look. Even now, people only comment that I look well when I use eyebrow pencils. So, sometimes we have to use what we have... meaning a bit of make-up. Of course, this isn't a cure... it's a fix!

If you are feeling unattractive then take a little time to draw on your face, grab your favorite hair or hat (or shine your head), and get yourself in your favorite outfit to help you feel attractive. Heck, make a date night out of it since you are looking so good!

Sometimes you just have to feel beautiful, especially if you're not feeling beautiful. We have to find a way to own our new self! You may be surprised how owing your look makes you feel sexually attractive. And feeling attractive will help with your desire.

Approach: Positive Self-Talk

Treatment changes the way you look. It is inevitable. It is important to tell yourself you look good. You especially need to tell yourself how beautiful you are when you feel unattractive.

Our attitude will enforce our mindset. If we are looking at our face in the mirror - examining every change, every flaw - we will tell ourselves how ugly we are. We all do it! I know I did it before, during, and after treatment. However, I know I have to re-tell myself that I am beautiful while I look in the mirror constantly.

Some days it is harder to listen to myself. I literally will have an internal dialogue... where I am over-talking my negative thoughts. I have to remind myself that I am unique. I may not be attractive to you or others, but I am uniquely me. You're uniquely you - and it is beautiful.

The thing is, our self-perception is important to our sexual health. We can inhibit our own desire by feeling unattractive. It is our self-esteem, how we see ourselves, which can either improve or lessen our sexual pleasure.

Approach: Talk about It

Body image affects sexual satisfaction! However, addressing how you look can be hard... especially, if you are naturally sensitive about it right now.

This can be a touchy subject. Your partner can sense how you feel about yourself... and they do not know what to say. They may be afraid that whatever they say will be misunderstood. And maybe, they have said the wrong thing... or you heard it the wrong way. Either way, miscommunication can create you or them to stop talking completely.

It is important to share your insecurities with your partner, as well as things they can say to help you feel beautiful. Remember, they cannot read your mind. They may need to know things they can say that will support you feeling attractive. Tell them. Seriously, tell them what you need to hear. That means tell them what to say and don't think they don't mean it when they say it to you... they want you to feel beautiful too.

Something as simple as hair can affect the way we see ourselves. It can affect our sex life. It can make us retreat from feeling loved or loving ourselves.

Even now, I have hair issues to deal with. Hair regrowth is not always a positive experience. I went through months of mange... seriously... my head was covered in patches that remained hair free. I now face thinning, odd textured hair. Others may not notice the changes, but I do. I deal with it daily... every morning when I brush my hair.

And I look into a mirror and see someone unlike me. I still lack eyelashes and eyebrows... or I have just enough to notice them and just few enough to still look sick. It seems shallow and small, but it matters.

I have heard others say, "You should be happy. At least it grew back." Maybe I should be happy, but I'm not. I'm disappointed. I miss my old hair. But even with my new locks - I am coming to grips with my new self. I'm having to accept me. I am looking in mirrors and focusing on what I like and telling myself I am beautiful.

No matter if you are bald, manged, or in re-growth I hope you look at yourself and tell yourself you are beautiful! I hope you believe it!

Next time, examine another body image issue: boobs. Learn how mastectomies and lumpectomies affect self-image. Plus, learn tips to help address and like your new body!


Popular posts from this blog

giving your 16 year old scissors

New Traditions Losing my hair - it's going to happen. When I did this in 2013, I waited to cut my hair once I was further in treatment. I didn't want to do that again. I didn't want to do it while I felt sore and bad. This time, I wanted to get rid of my hair before treatment.  Since I will have now done this more than once, it can be considered a tradition: cancer haircuts by my kids . Last time I did this, the kids were 6 and 13. So, this time around my son (23) opted not to cut, but watched some.   However, my 16 year old daughter leapt at the opportunity to cut my hair. Even though 10 years have gone by, she had to adhere to a few basic rules. Basic Rules: 1. Do not cut my ears. 2. Do not cut your own hair. 3. Do not cut anyone else's hair. These rules still hold up and are the general agreement we make before I put scissors in my kid's hands to chop on my hair!  And the tradition isn't the same without going outside (weather permitting) and listening to our

happy birthday to me... almost

  Let's rewind a bit and start a few days before my birthday... I had my first cancer treatment day on October 3rd - check it out if you haven't read that blog post yet. Let's just think of it as an early birthday gift since my birthday is October 7th. Great gift, right?!? If I have to hear "Happy Early" or "Late Birthday" from another medical person, I might have to smack someone. Especially, since I have spent most of the weeks leading up to and after my birthday at a medical appointment regarding cancer. Not really loving my birthday this year. Let's just say, on my birthday, I woke up with a special chemo-side-effect-surprise at 2am. That fun surprise I will share later... Rewind a Few Days... Update But first, let's go to October 4th, the day after my grueling 8 hours of immunotherapy and two chemotherapies on the 3rd. I woke up swollen, red faced, and fevering, as well as feeling pretty crummy. I didn't have time to dwell on it since I

here i go again... on my own

  It's Time for Chemo #1 Today ended up being the longest day I've ever had in treatment... ever. I started at 8am and finished around 4-4:30pm. LONG day.  I fully support getting your port ready about 30 minutes before treatment (ignore the 5-15 min suggestion on the Lidocaine box - give yourself 30 minutes to allow for more time and more numbing). So, for me, I apply the Lidocaine over my port and put a small square of Saran Wrap over it right before leaving to go to treatment. It takes me about 30 mins to get to my treatment center, so it gives it time to work. The Lidocaine helps numb the area so the needle will not hurt as much when poked and the Saran Wrap keeps the Lidocaine on your skin and not on your clothes. When I arrive to the treatment center on chemo days, it starts with a bit of bloodwork in the lab. They have to make sure your bloodwork is good before giving you chemo. I have a port, so they just hook me up with the right type of IV needle, take my blood sample