The one thing about menopause I did not anticipate was a bald spot. Yes. I have a small bald spot at the top of my head. Imagine a day-glow pink island surrounded by white hair. Keeping the damn thing out of sight requires finagling, and I often fail. It’s a little bigger than a nickel.
It’s as big as the continent of Asia.
If I mention this to other women my age, I don’t get the empathy I’m hoping for. They say “but you’ve got so much hair” and “only you notice it” and “wear a hat” or they just grin and shrug and sometimes there’s a smirk. Women my age can be merciless. Okay, everybody can be merciless, but women of my age are sharp sighted and willing to go for the pink spot.
I have never been beautiful. At my best I was attractive in a certain way. But I always, always had good hair. Thick to the point of driving hairdressers crazy, naturally curly/wavy. Shiny.
See this photo? Me at seven, an Italian Catholic kid on her way to First Communion. It took an hour to tame my hair so the veil would lie properly. You can see the bulk of it, and that it was doubled up.
Some women will tell you that the good part of menopause is that the hair on your legs thins down to nothing so you don’t have to shave anymore. Sure, except you need that extra time now to deal with your bald spot. Or your new mustache.
Here’s how serious I am: I’d rather have an old lady mustache to deal with than a bald spot.
Didn’t realize I was so vain, did you? In my defense: this was my one vanity. So now, a confession and a demonstration of how karma works.
When I was living in Austria I dated somebody for over a year. Tall, skinny, blond, thinning hair even then. Some years later I happened to go back for a visit just when he was getting married, and he invited me to the wedding. And I went and had a good time. He married a former student of his (yes, I know, bad juju), a very exuberant, very young woman with a beautiful complexion and gorgeous hair. Lots of hair. A lot like mine. She was proud of her hair, too, and she liked to toss it. I never tossed my hair. Honest.
A few years after that when I was back for a visit — and the former boyfriend had achieved complete balditude — I ran into her. She was pushing a baby carriage, and in it was her daughter, about a year old. A pretty baby, but bald as a boiled egg. So I said all the things you say about a healthy happy baby and then I said with an utterly straight face:
“Oh look, she’s got [her father’s] hair!”
The look on her face I will never forget. I had zeroed in on the one thing about her baby that had to be a disappointment to her and she was shocked at my temerity. She was outraged. She was stymied. She sputtered something about how her daughter’s hair would come in, and marched off.
The day I noticed the bubble-gum pink island at the crown of my head, I truly understood karma.
So please don’t comment to tell me that I look GREAT, because that will only irritate me. Don’t tell me about the hair-in-a-can product that your great aunt Georgia loves. And please don’t tell me to grow old with dignity. There is a long list of things I’m being dignified about. I reserve the right to be emotional about this one thing that has been central to my identity for all my life. Until ten years ago.
On the other hand, if you have a magical cure for what’s ailing me, first, quick, get a patent because you are going to be filthy rich. Then tell me about it.
I celebrated by 55th birthday today and although my husband is a sweet man and made the day special, I admit spending too much time thinking about all the senior discounts I am now eligible to receive. Reading your post made me giggle and realize what a great company of women I can claim, who also deal with strange hairs that appear out of no where and all the other little jokes mother nature likes to play. Thanks, and I would also say that if I could have your talent, I would take your bald spot in a hot second!
All things are relative, it seems. But you did make me smile, and that’s always good.
To me, menopause confirmed its presence when my pubic hair started to migrate to my chin but like you I would have been devastated to lose head hair. As much as we all deny the fact, some little vanities seem to always remain.
Oh wow. I’ll be laughing for a good while. Thank you. Both for the image of the migration event, and the solidarity re hair loss on the head.
Sigh. You haven’t got the dribbles yet. And I thought sanitary products were over with when menopause happened. Nope.
The dribbles: I had those when I was pregnant. All it took was a sneeze. Not looking forward to revisiting that experience.
My only consolation for my aging head of hair is that I am lucky enough to have it turn snow white which people, oddly enough, compliment me on. Like I did something to it besides just quit coloring it. But yeah, it’s not the hair that I used to swing over a table and hear it thump on the table top.
On the other hand, at least I’m alive to have thinning hair. It could be worse.
Yes, that is true. Better than the alternative. And my hair is turning white, too.