ANNA BORTNIKOVA. INNER BEAUTY

Evolutionally speaking, hair is a kind of an atavism.     

We now live in the comforts of our own houses, so hair doesn’t perform any vital function anymore, otherwise we would have been covered in fur and hair.


 

However, alopecia is still considered an illness, and in the past, you would be regarded disabled because of it. Now the condition is admitted not to influence the vital life processes, but anyway your life will never be the same after you’ve been diagnosed with alopecia, especially if you’re a woman.

I used to have beautiful thick hair in my childhood, and then suddenly the hair loss patches started to appear at the back of my head. They would come and go. In high school, however, I was diagnosed with alopecia. I would do hormonal therapy, change the diet, go the countless doctors — to no avail. I am a healthy person according to the clinical test results, still 20 years ago I shaved all my hair and started wearing a wig.

Half of my life I was hiding my state. It just seems simple — you put on a wig, and that’s it. In reality I pretended to be someone else, I lied to those surrounding me.

A woman in a wig is always on the alert, always scared to be exposed. The wig can shift, or you might decide to scratch your scalp in an inconvenient moment… Besides, a good wig is expensive, it may cost up to 50 000 rubles. You also need to change them regularly, they are wearing out.

So, for 20 years I’ve lived in a cage. And not just any cage, but the one with spikes and needles of fear that that someone will know about my condition and hurt me. I was restricting myself, was living with a foreign object on my head.

The change has started when I started telling people I had no hair. Just telling. For example, as a reply to a question of why I never have my hair done or dyed. There was nothing scary or wrong in telling this to people, they would just carry on talking to you, no one gives you a disgusted look.

Couple of years ago my family and I moved to Ekaterinburg, and I started a new life in a new city. A life without a wig.

What do I feel? Liberation. 

Every day I look in the mirror and see myself, not a stranger. 

And I get to know myself better and better every day. 

ANNA BORTNIKOVA. INNER BEAUTY

For instance, I discovered I enjoy being the centre of attention. With my state it’s quite an easy task to do. I used to be almost invisible and ordinary before I stopped wearing wigs, but now I see myself attracting attention every day.  Suddenly I stopped caring what people might think or say about me.

My husband had a hard time getting used to a new me. He is quite conservative, reserved, with a good respectable job. We love each other, and from the very start he knew about my condition and was okay with it. However, all these 20 years of marriage he was accompanied by a respectable, conventionally looking wife, and now it seems that my coming out of sorts influences him directly. My choice was to open up to the world, and I fully understood I’d get looks and questions. This is no easy decision to make, as it creates a new perspective on our partner as well, and they will have to adjust to it, which takes time. So my husband does — by and by he is getting used to this new life, because he loves me. On my birthday he told me he doesn’t remember how I looked in a wig — it made my eyes well up.

ANNA BORTNIKOVA. INNER BEAUTY

Some people don’t understand why I am showing off. They say I could still cover myself, fight for my hair and so on. People in Russia can react in a peculiar way, because we are used to being equal against our will. Don’t show off — the more standardized the better. This is not only about alopecia: if you have a problem, pretend it doesn’t exist. In fact it means that it is you who don’t exist. I don’t want to pretend. I have one life and ask to respect it.

Now I try to surround myself with “cosy” people, that’s why I don’t have to put up my defenses. Strangers typically react in a positive way: some of them think it’s a disease, some — that it’s just a part of my image or some kind of a hype. Everyone measures by their own measure.

We are pack animals. We need to belong. You’re looking for your pack until you find it, and then you settle. Now I know where I belong, and a finally can be myself. One of my friends wrote that my rock-n-roll is showing. I couldn’t agree more.

HEROES

ANNA BORTNIKOVA. INNER BEAUTY

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