The hidden toll of thinning hair 23



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When Hollywood starlet Helena Bonham Carter popped out the shops recently, the paparazzi went mad trying to capture her shocking look. Never mind the crazy clothes – was the kooky actress going bald?

Bonham Carter, who is typically seen with voluminous hairdos, may just have been having a bad hair day, but it raised the question of how society treats female hair loss, something that affects as many as 40 per cent of women by the time they reach middle age.

For most people, it’s one of those facts of life: as the hormones are turned down, the hair starts thinning out.

But while this happens to men without too much fuss, for women, losing our hair can be devastating for our self-image and emotional wellbeing. And many women are forced to suffer in silence, with doctors unlikely to provide much help, solace or – for that matter – understanding.

A typical response from a health professional would be “there’s nothing we can do about that” or “you’ll just have to learn to live with it”.

The problem is, hair loss is not life threatening and doesn’t cause any actual physical harm. But it can change your life.

Sarah Vine, writing in the Daily Mail, suffers female pattern hair loss, which is caused by a combination of stress, hormonal imbalances and a hereditary predisposition.

She says, “Our hair is inextricably linked to our sense of self. Which is why losing it is so traumatic.”

Since “coming out” about her hair loss, she has spoken to hundreds of women who have experienced thinning or bald patches and reports, “All speak of the same feeling of embarrassment and low self-esteem, of feeling inferior to ‘normal’ women, of humiliation and panic attacks.

“Some isolate themselves from society, afraid to go out in public; others, like me, are more bullish. If someone were to comment unfavourably on my hair now, they’d better be quick on their feet.”

What doctors and society fails to understand is that losing our hair – be it a thinning out or the growth of a bald patch – can take an emotional toll that can affect our wellbeing, our happiness and, in some cases, our health.

While no one wants to be judged on their looks, particularly as we get older, but if Bonham Carter is indeed losing her hair, she has our sympathies.

For thinning hair is no laughing matter; it can be an important factor in the wellbeing of an older woman, and should be treated with due respect and support.

Have you experienced thinning hair or hair loss? How does it impact your health and happiness, or the way you feel about yourself?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I had 6 months of chemo and although I didn’t go bald my hair was very thin and fine. It has taken some February for it to really start to thicken but I don’t think it will ever be the same. Since that happened to me I’ve noticed how many ladies have very thin hair, I feel so sorry for them now knowing how they feel. It’s acceptable for men but not for women

  2. Yes – at 63 my scalp has been thinning slowly in the last 15 years – I guess since menopause. I hate and loathe it, I have a wig but it gets hot so I have to put up with it. I stress about it but I guess it makes it worse. No win situation.

  3. My hair has thinned as I have gotten older to, seems nature thinks we don’t need a warm head as we age 🙂

  4. I got my hair cut short and the hairdresser had to thin the top, she said it was to thick. But I know it is not as thick as when I was younger, I used to snap the handles of hair brushes when I brushed it

  5. I noticed my hair started thinning when I was 64. I curse it because it is not as easy to manage as it used to be, but there could be much worse things that could happen, so I don’t dwell on it.

  6. My hair fell thinned badly before I was diagnosed with diabetes. It took months to thicken up again. I have fine naturally curly hair that looks thicker than it is.

    1 REPLY
    • Sigh! I empathise with you when, at age 47 I was diagnosed a Type 1 diabetic and it has gradually become thinner over the last 20 years and I fret turning even one year older lest I’m able to actually count the remaining hairs!

  7. Yep…decided to be a teen again n wanted longer hair….drastic outcome…..limp lifeless etc….short again and actually thrilled to be using a couple of hair products that help me look respectable….never thought I would be this vain at over 60!!!!

  8. Love ure comment David James….my husband sleeps every night of the year with a beanie….tell the grandies I sleep with a burglar!

  9. It is definitely one of the nasties of growing older. Have had to tweak the hairstyle to deal with it. Especially bad as I have naturally fine hair. However, things could be worse!!! At least I am old enough to have the problem 😉

  10. I am glad I went into menopause with an extremely thick head of hair. My hair has thinned but is still thick.

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