(This blog is by guest contributor John Allsopp).
As a man, I didn't think I was going to like Breaking the Silence on Women's Hair LossMen are from Mars, Women are from Venus: How to Get What You Want in Your Relationships
, so I'm comfortable being uncomfortable when the book jacket talks about "women who struggle with hair loss and its accompanying emotional toll and shame". The third sentence in chapter one is "Fairy tales, myths and legends abound with hair central to the story".
It turns out, though, that Hoffmann herself, a 'seasoned medical journalist and editor' also seems uncomfortable with that and soon gets into her stride talking about what causes hair loss and what you can do about it. Journalists aren't flowery by nature, they like to report the facts as they see them. That's their job. I love it.
So, I think what's happened is the flowery stuff has been forced there by the publisher in order to satisfy their model of what sells the books to women. That's fine, just don't get the impression the book deals only with the emotional and social side of hair loss. There's a load of great information in here that I haven't seen elsewhere.
I've taken a step back. And that's very slightly annoying
Hoffmann gets serious with hair loss, providing, for example, the biggest list I've seen anywhere of reasons to see your doctor first, from Lupus to statin drugs and SSRIs like Prozac with hair loss as a possible side effect.
There's advice on who to talk to and how to build a 'hair loss team' around you. The largest chapter is probably the one covering a wide range of hair loss treatments. Then it's hair nutrients, wigs and finally she reaches the book's basic conclusion which feels like: you may improve your hair but you probably won't get back your teenage years. You need confidence in you, and your hair isn't you. The major battle isn't your hair, it's you and your attitude towards it.
It's in the treatments part of the book, however, that I think it falls down. Basically, I've read the book and I learned a whole lot about hair loss causes and treatments. But I still don't know what to do.
If I have hair loss, why should I have to learn about it?
What I really wanted was for Hoffmann to write a book titled "John's hair loss, what it is and what he should do next". I've spent maybe four or five hours reading the book and I know more about hair loss, I'm better equipped, I have a more rounded appreciation. But I'm nowhere nearer making a decision about getting my hair back. In fact, whereas before I was looking for a hair loss solution, now I've reverted to wondering whether I should just accept me for who I am. I've taken a step back. And that's very slightly annoying.
But isn't that how life is now? We're suffering under a weight of choice. Want broadband? You've got to understand it before you can buy it. Want a mobile phone? May your God help you. Want something to calm your nerves? First, you have to deal with more information than you can shake a stick at, and nowadays the first place people turn is the Internet. Anyone, even stupid people, can write articles on the Internet.
I have a different view. I think there will be a backlash against the herd, against stupid people you don't know or trust making stupid online comments. Against DIY. Against information overload. I think the pendulum will swing back towards the expert.
If I have hair loss, why should I have to learn about it? Surely I just want to turn up to an expert, get it treated, walk out and get on with what I want to do.
Our life is just the hours we get given. We shouldn't waste them. Do what you want with your life. Learn about hair loss if that's what you really want to do. Otherwise, consult a hair loss expert, get it sorted to the best of their ability (and let them worry about that), then get on with your life. Hair loss can't stop you.
(Pic courtesy Dawn Ashley on Flickr, some rights reserved)
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