20-year-old Rebecca Brown has become a global Internet star after publicising an online video diary discussing a rare hair loss condition that affects her. Rebecca experiences an impulse-control disorder known as trichotillomania, which sees her unable to stop the urge to pull her own hair out.
Rebecca first got the idea for publishing a diary about living with the condition after her own research revealed a lack of good quality information online about the condition. Speaking to the Daily Mail she explained, “I decided to upload my own, no-holds-barred video.”
A long-term issue
In her video diary, Rebecca explains how a fondness for playing with her hair as a young child developed into something far more serious. By the age of 12 she had graduated to pulling her hair out at the roots, leaving her almost completely bald by the age of 16.
During that period doctors incorrectly diagnosed the condition as a bad case of ‘fidgeting’. Rebecca’s classmates at school also continually taunted and teased her about her appearance. Eventually Rebecca became so disillusioned with the bald patches that she had her head shaved.
Regrowth on two fronts
To her surprise, the response to the video diary has been overwhelmingly supportive, with Rebecca even being invited to speak at a hair loss conference in the US. Her videos have received over 12 million views on YouTube and she now has to spend three hours each week responding to fan mail.
The interest in her video diary has had a marked effect on Rebecca’s self-image; she now claims to be far more self-confident. And with the return of her confidence, her hair has also begun growing back.
Trichotillomania remains relatively rare, with just 4 people in 100 affected by it. Trichotillomania is commonly thought of as a female hair loss condition, although some men also experience hair loss as a result of the condition – usually from their beards, moustaches and chest however. Trichotillomaniacs often report that pulling their hair gives some form of psychological release, helping to reduce tension and stress.