August is National Hair Loss Awareness Month. If you’ve noticed changes in your hair, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Hair loss is more common than most people realize.
The American Hair Loss Association estimates that “by the age of thirty-five two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss, and by the age of fifty approximately 85% of men have significantly thinning hair.”
And while hair loss among men may be more talked about, most women deal with hair loss too. In fact, The American Academy of Dermatology reports that “30 million women in the United States suffer from hereditary hair loss” And other causes drive the numbers up higher such that more than half of women face noticeable hair loss.
National Hair Loss Awareness Month is dedicated to improving the physical and emotional lives of anyone struggling with any degree of hair loss for any reason.
“Why is Hair Loss Awareness Month Important?”
People experience hair loss for many reasons. For many of us, hair loss is connected to genetic predisposition and aging. It’s common for both women and men to notice changes in their hair’s thickness and to see more scalp starting in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. However, aging is hardly the only contributor. Hair growth can be impacted by illnesses, hormonal changes, medication, nutrition, stress, and even environmental factors.
We fear hair loss because we fear change.
Hair Loss Awareness Month is valuable because it creates opportunities for people to push past their understandable fear of change and discuss health and hair loss honestly.
Why don’t people talk about hair loss?
There are lots of reasons that hair loss can be hard to talk about and they are different for different people.
To start with, beyond what’s specifically happening in the biology of our scalps, men and women face different social challenges when it comes to hair loss.
Women are, from a young age, presented with millions of images that create a link between thick hair and beauty. As a result, many women feel shame or grief as they experience hair loss.
In contrast, many men are raised to believe that putting effort into their appearance, wellbeing, and even mental health is unmasculine. Men are less likely to seek out help or solutions if they believe that a “grin and bear it” mentality signals strength. Because of this social stigma, some men live with many types of pain – including the pain of hair loss, even though there are opportunities for relief.
For other people, hair loss is a reminder of illness or trauma – both of which are often accompanied by sudden hair loss.
So hair loss can be a sensitive subject. We are hesitant to discuss it because doing so requires vulnerability! However, when we begin to be open and express our concerns about the changes in our bodies, we begin a process of acceptance, which opens the door to empowerment.
Empowerment Through Embracing Change
Contrary to popular belief, National Hair Loss Awareness Month is not about regrowing hair. Hair Loss Awareness Month aims to reduce the shame and stigma associated with hair loss. Spreading awareness and increasing access to knowledge and resources enables people to make informed, shame-free, choices regarding their hair.
Ultimately we believe that National Hair Loss Awareness Month is about embracing change. Some people experience hair loss and don’t feel a need or desire to turn back the clock and regrow their hair. They find empowerment in embracing the changes they are experiencing in their bodies and hair. And other people feel empowered by seeking solutions to reverse their hair loss, embracing the change that comes with developing the self-care habits that lead to hair regrowth.
Both options are courageous! They mean you are embracing change despite the fact that it’s kind of scary!
And both options are easier to take on when you talk about it.
By reading this blog, you’ve started the conversation— at least with yourself. And everything begins with a first step.