I don’t fit in and I am proud!

Mr C attended the annual breakfast run by The Reach Foundation today.  For those of you that don’t know Reach is an amazing organisation that works with youth to help them get the most out of life, to feel less like a fish out of water and more like they have a valuable contribution to make.  They do amazing work.

Mr C phoned me after the breakfast, as he does every year, to enthusiastically let me know what it was like.  Our son has benefitted from this organisation’s work, so it very much has a place in our heart.

This year, they spoke about how children are put into boxes, and once they are put into those boxes, how these children are expected to act according to that labelled box.  An example given was of trangender – children who are born as one sex, but actually desperately align themselves with the other sex.  Mr C told me that there were two transgendered youth that spoke today – both of whom were born females, but are transitioning to males.  They spoke of how the largest barrier for them, was the inability of their families, driven by society, to accept where they fit into the world with some devastating consequences.

40% of children who identify as homosexual or end up self harming.  A whopping 40%!!  It is suspected that this figure is even higher for transgendered youth.

This morning, I read this amazing post by Carly Findlay.  In it she speaks of how people offer her unsolicited advice about her condition, how people will walk up to her and say that they couldn’t live with what she has, how they make comments about her appearance without even thinking.  Then, when she points out the insensitivity of these people, she is accused of asking for it because she is a blogger, and that because she looks differently she should just accept that people will make comments.

I, myself, am bald.  I have female pattern balding, otherwise known as Androgenetic Alopecia.  This means that I don’t have a completely bald head, but that I lose my hair in the same way a man usually loses his hair (on the top and around the sides).  It got so bad that I chose to shave what little hair I have in order to wear a vacuum wig.  Part of the reason to take this route was because of the constant stares and unsolicited advice that I kept getting.  People would stop me in the street to tell me about a hair loss remedy they “knew for a fact works”.  I even once had the owner of a nail salon, whilst getting my nails done by one of her employees, walk up behind me, run her fingers through the thinnest part of my hair, shake her head and say “What an awful thing to have happen to you.  How do you live with it?”

Androgenentic Alopecia
This is me just before I got my new wig.
Completely bald, yep, that's me with no hair.  I shave my head every two days to keep it smooth so the wig can suction on and I feel secure.
Completely bald, yep, that’s me with no hair. I shave my head every two days to keep it smooth so the wig can suction on and I feel secure.
This is me with my wig.  I love it.  But I love it more when I can take it off at the end of the day, kind of like removing your bra - that same feeling of relief.
This is me with my wig. I love it. But I love it more when I can take it off at the end of the day, kind of like removing your bra – that same feeling of relief.
This is me with an 'up do"
This is me with an ‘up do”

I have even had one person, who has Alopecia Universalis (total balding all over the body), tell me that I shouldn’t complain because “at least I have some hair.”  Because balding is a competitive sport apparently.

There is something gravely wrong with our culture.

Increasingly we seem to think it is okay to blurt out or do whatever comes into our head.  There is this narcissistic thread that runs through society that says that we are special little people entitled to our opinions, dammit, and as such we can say and do whatever we like without thinking about the consequences of our actions.

Well, actually, no.

There are 7 billion (and increasing every day) on this planet.  We are ALL DIFFERENT.  Not one single one of us is the same as someone else.

The media have sold us a lie.  And if you think for one second you are not influenced by the images you see on a daily basis you are deluded.

At the breakfast that Mr C attended, they showed a small clip of popular culture that our youth are subjected to numerous times a day, in particular music videos and adverts that pop up online all the time (think you tube videos and the like).  In all of them, women were portrayed as sex objects wearing skimpy clothing exposing their crotches and bum cheeks gyrating as suggestively as possible, not looking productive or intelligent at all, and men were portrayed as ripped, bad boys who were in total control.  Is it hardly a wonder we have a burgeoning domestic violence issue?  Is it hardly a wonder some freak thought it would be a good idea to start a school on how to pick up women and use them for nothing other than as sex objects, and that men pay thousands of dollars to attend said school?

But I digress.

This is about difference, and embracing it, rather than shunning it.  We all like to think we are different, yet we rush to let someone else know that they just don’t fit in.

I don’t fit in.  I am overweight, I have balding hair and I have an accent that means I don’t have a home country either.  I am an outcast in my own existence.

Why is this?  Why is it that the youth of today are being pressured to fit in, to be and act a certain way?  Why is it that middle aged men and women, rather than embracing their mature-aged wisdom, are clinging to some image of what they might have been had they only been prettier, thinner, more fit, more career minded?  Why is it that the mental health issue across the world is bursting at the seams?

Because it sells.  Marketers have discovered our propensity for patterns and tribes and have created a culture in which we fight to fit in for fear of missing out.  There’s even an acronym for it – FOMO.  Everything, no matter what, is up for sale.  Even families on TV who do nothing other than appear before the camera in a tell-all scenario are held up to us like some beacon of what we should aspire to be.

The fall out from that is that those of us that don’t fit the mould are cast out, and those that do fit the mould are sure to let us know about it.

In the last 40 years a culture of us and them has been created.  A culture of narcissism has also been created which dictates that if I want to say something, then I get to say it, regardless of the consequences.

Except it is all a lie.  Because we are all different.  Every.  Single.  One.

You don’t get to tell someone who has Ichthyosis how they should manage their own condition, you don’t get to tell a transgender person that they shouldn’t want to be a member of the opposite sex, you don’t get to tell a woman who is losing her hair that she has no right to be upset and you certainly don’t get to tell all of these different people that they don’t belong because of some image that you have bought into sold to you by a society-crushing ravaging media.  You just don’t.

So I challenge you today.  I challenge you when you see someone that is strange or different, or acts in a way that you wouldn’t, or is just simply not a member of your tribe, I challenge you to embrace them, to get to know them, the person. Resist the urge to enquire about their condition, about their appearance, about their choices.  That is all just wrapping.  Get to know them.  It may just make your day.

Go on, I dare you.

Much love,

SHW Signature

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20 thoughts on “I don’t fit in and I am proud!

  1. Here here, Sarah. I acutally think you look equally fabulous with your wig and with your shaved head (but I might be biased because I have a husband with a shaved head and am fond of shaved heads in general.) I loved the bra analogy, so I totally get how wig wearing must feel. Thank you for sharing your story. We are all different and that what makes us so special and unique. I want to live in a world where we celebrate and embrace those differences not discriminate or alienate because of them.

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  2. Another fantastic post. We were at the pool this morning and got into a conversation with disabled woman who amongst other conditions has Tourettes Syndrome (hope that is how you spell it). My two younger kids (4 & 2) were chatting with her & she shared some wonderful home truths with us. I am trying so hard to teach the kids that we are all different & we all deserve to be heard by others but in our own voice. Love your work babe! PS. I think you look wonderful with & without your hair. I wish we celebrated the term “interesting” instead of traditional beauty. xx

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  3. What a great post, I really enjoyed reading it and it made me think about how much emphasis there is on our outer selves rather than the things that really make us who we are.

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  4. I loved this piece, Sarah. For lots of reasons. For giving airplay to the social difficulties for transgender youth, for telling us about the Reach Foundation, for your support of Carly’s marvellous Appearance Diversity work, for your no-holds-barred discussion of Alopecia and how it affects you. When my Mum was wearing wigs they were pretty fab, but a vacuum wig sounds like very cool technology. An ‘up do’ is so freaking fantastic! I’m so glad good minds are always improving the wig world. Like your other readers, I too think you look beautiful with and without your wig.
    And more beautiful than all the things that make your appearance unique to you, is the person inside that gorgeous head.

    7 billion persons blows the circuits in my brain! Amazing. 7 billion beautiful people. If only there was enough love and wisdom and care to help everyone know how uniquely beautiful they are. Maybe there would be less of the bad stuff happening. I think it starts with the little ones, how much they need us to teach them what true beauty really is.

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    1. Thank you Rachel. Wigs have come a long way – in fact the people who make my wigs are in New Zealand. They developed the technology and now ship all over the world!! A vacuum wig means that in a gust of wind your hair isn’t going to fly off :-). And you are right 7 billion people (actually now 7.2 billion) is a lot of beautiful people and we need to get that message out there xx

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  5. Always, always love what your heart writes Sarah. What a boring old place this planet would be if we were all the same. My favourite people are those who ‘supposedly’ don’t fit in. For it is my experience that people like that have the most empathy, courage and wisdom. I have my own little story to tell of differences and how so many struggle to find an appropriate way to deal with it. In recent years I’ve developed a skin condition. I visited a doctor about a totally unrelated matter and he looked at me and said ‘Oh no! How awful that you have to deal with that terrible skin condition. I hope I can do something about it that will make you feel better about yourself and that you don’t have to go out in public looking like that! It must be awful for you!’ A DOCTOR told me that!! I actually hadn’t thought too much about how I looked … until then. From that point on I’ve been terribly self-conscious and a lot of the time (even in summer) cover myself up. Because he and others have made me feel so terrible about my appearance. Everyone has something to say about it. I just wish people could find better, more meaningful ways to communicate. Or better still not say anything at all. Or even better still that we could all just accept each other’s differences and treat each other the same.

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    1. Oh Deb, I am SO sorry you have been through that experience. What is the matter with people, doctors!, who think they can say these things to us. What an awful awful thing to do, on so many levels. For what it is worth, I think you are gorgeous, both inside and out and I love what you do and the joy you bring to others’ lives. Please forget what that idiot said. He is not worth it. And just believe, if you can, somehow, that what you bring to this world is an amazing ray of light. Much love xx

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