People making comments about your hair can be difficult. Sometimes, people can say unkind things by accident. They might not mean to hurt your feelings, but they don’t know any better. Sometimes, people can be deliberately mean, rude, or unkind.
So if someone says something about your alopecia, how can you handle it?
It can be really helpful to think about how you would like to respond to comments in advance. Your family could discuss together what kinds of comments you might hear, and how you would like to deal with them. You can practice saying your responses in a firm voice.
You could say “It isn’t nice to say things about how someone looks.”
Or “I have Alopecia Areata. If you have a question, just ask, but don’t be rude.”
Maybe saying “I don’t think you’d like it if someone said that about you.” would be best for you.
You can also practice how to respond if you don’t want to talk. Try practising these:
- crossing your arms and ignoring them
- looking at them to let them know you’ve heard, and frowning to show you’re not happy
- looking at them and shaking your head
If someone is rude or unkind, sometimes walking away responding can be the best thing to do. It shows that you aren’t going to pay attention to their bad behaviour.
Find someone to talk to
After walking away, you can find someone you like or trust, and tell them about how you’re feeling. A teacher, a friend or family member is great place to start.
It’s normal to feel upset, or even angry, when someone said something rude or unkind. But being mad or sad just brings you down, and sometimes if we act on these feelings, we can get ourselves in trouble. There are lots of ways you can calm yourself down after feeling upset. Once you are away from the person, try one of these:
- Slowly counting to ten, focusing on nothing but the counting
- Take some deep breaths
- Close your eyes and listen. List 10 things you can hear or smell around you.
- Writing down your feelings
Remember that you are more than your hair. Try thinking some reassuring phrases (or if you like, practice saying them out loud)
“Unkind people aren’t worth getting upset about”
“It’s their problem, not mine.”
“Alopecia Areata is not my fault”
“I’m a great person, with or without my hair”
Think about whether the person really meant to upset you
There may be times that people say things deliberately to upset you or make you feel bad. But sometimes people might just be asking a question, and they upset you by accident. If they knew more about Alopecia Areata, maybe it wouldn’t happen again.
If it was an accident, could you talk to them about your alopecia when you’re feeling better? Explain why their comment upset you, and how you would prefer to talk about your hair in future. There are lots of ways you can help those around you to learn more about Alopecia Areata. You could hold a Crazy Hair Day or write a letter to your classmates. People are less likely to comment about it if they know what it is. For help spreading alopecia awareness in your school or community, visit aaaf.org.au
If the comment was deliberately hurtful, or has happened many times after being asked to stop, it may be bullying. You should always tell a trusted adult, like your parents or teacher, about bullying. They can help address the problem.
Remember that you’re not alone
Thousands of kids live with Alopecia Areata in Australia. AAAF has support groups and events around the country. Getting to know other kids with Alopecia Areata can be really helpful. There are many ways to get involved – visit our website for more.
We hope these tips are a helpful starting place when handling comments. AAAF have more resources for helping young people with Alopecia Areata and their families on our website. We’d love to hear what’s worked for you, what tips you’d give others, and what you wish you’d known when you were younger. Let us know in the comments!