For the first, oh, 10-ish years after I started growing a ladybeard, I had no desire for anyone to know about it. In fact, as I’ve talked about in other posts, I did pretty much everything possible to get rid of it. I felt completely disconnected from it and wished so hard that it would go away. “This isn’t me,” I thought. “This isn’t how I see myself, and it’s not really a part of me, and if I act like it’s not there then maybe it will disappear.”
Of course, it never did. And I decided that I didn’t want to be in denial about it anymore. Didn’t want to feel so ashamed of it. I wasn’t ready to grow it out (and am still not… though having an infant has made shaving less convenient!), but I was ready to talk about it.
The problem was that I felt scared to death of what would happen when I did. I imagine some of you might feel the same way? So this is for the folks out there who are thinking about starting to talk about your hair, but aren’t quite sure how or where to begin. Keep in mind that this is based on my experiences and might not work for you in your situation. There are so many cultural/social/personal/etc. factors that could change things.
1. Are you ready?
Are you ready to share this part of your life with others? Are you doing it for yourself and not because you feel like you should or because you think others “deserve” to know? For me, it was about getting to a point where I felt so sick of hiding it that the only logical option was to start telling people. I couldn’t keep it in anymore, and it was a purely selfish decision to talk about it. Being hirsute is such a personal thing, and your feelings about it can be so complex. Be gentle and honest with yourself. If you’re not quite ready, that’s ok!
2. Make sure it’s someone you trust.
Not everyone needs to know your business. Until you feel more comfortable talking about your hair, stick to the people in your life you can count on. Close family members, close friends, trustworthy, open-minded significant others… In other words, stick to talking about it with the people in your life who pose the least amount of risk. The ones who are almost guaranteed to react with love and support. What’s your gut instinct about the person (or people) you want to tell? How have they reacted to things you’ve told them in the past? Are they open to difference?
3. Prepare for possible outcomes.
Whenever I’ve felt afraid to do or say something throughout my life and have talked to my mom about it, she always asks, “What’s the worst possible thing that can happen?” And once I start really thinking about the WORST THING, it’s never as bad as I originally thought. Partly because I can prepare for the worst possibility ahead of time. When you think about telling someone about your hair, think about the worst thing that might happen, and then think about how realistic that is. For example, do you think a friend of yours will start screaming and run away from you, never to call you or hang out with you again? That might be the worst thing, but how realistic is that (especially if you trust that person and know generally how he/she handles things)? What are some other, likelier outcomes? Once you have an idea of how the conversation could go, you can mentally prepare.
4. Approach it in as matter-of-fact a way as possible.
People will react to your news based on how you present it to them. So if you approach with an attitude like, “This is horrible, awful news I have to tell you about myself,” then they will probably react in kind. I totally get that you might feel like it’s horrible and awful – I really do! – but try to remain as calm and matter-of-fact as you can. Give the facts about your situation. It’s completely fine to show emotion, to cry, to say how difficult it is to discuss. And at the same time, it’s not something that is going to kill you. It’s not going to get in the way of your relationships with other people (unless you let it). It is really difficult to deal with, and it’s also ok. You’re still you and will always be you, hair or no hair. Remember that.
4. Do it in a way that feels comfortable.
Can’t quite bring yourself to have a face-to-face conversation about your hair? That’s ok – do it over the phone. Can’t quite say the words out loud? I get that. Write a letter or an email. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and safe. Sometimes, when I have something sensitive to talk about and want to make sure I say everything I need to say, I will write it down and then refer to my notes while talking. Totally nerdy, but effective. This is your show. There are no rules other than to do it the way you want.
Once you talk about it with someone and they react positively, it gets so much easier to tell others. I encourage you to discuss it with as many people as you want. The more practice you have talking about it, the easier it gets. I promise!
I hope that’s helpful! I’d love to hear about your experiences if you’ve told people in your life.