Photo by Teymi Townsend on Unsplash

My sister sent me a video of me from four years ago. I’m a senior in college now, and I was a senior in high school in the video. That video left me feeling both happy and sad, good and bad.

My hair was a lot thicker and longer than it is now. My curls were bouncy and voluminous. They were shiny in the dim light of the video, and my strands were dyed a golden-brown color, furthering adding to the luminescence of its aesthetics. My hair was different from what it looks like today. It was more beautiful.

I want it back.

My self-esteem can’t help but plummet when I think about the comparison in my appearance four years apart. Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have female pattern baldness, a genetic condition. I used to have thick, silky hair throughout my childhood and started to notice significant hair loss in middle school. After several dermatologist appointments, I was told that there isn’t a known cure for this. Since high school, I’ve been using Rogaine to supplement my hair growth.

But it’s not enough.

As I look in the mirror now, I feel confident about many things regarding my appearance. I like my smile and my straight, white teeth. I like the deep coffee color of my eyes and I love the earthly shade of my skin. I love the natural arch of my brows. I love the clearness and smoothness of my face. And I love the curliness of my hair and I like that I have a widow’s peak.

But I hate the emptiness of masses of curls that should be on my head.

Although it’s a point of insecurity for me, the thinness of my hair doesn’t weight on me too often. I know that my hair loss and lack of hair isn’t usually noticeable as of now. But it’s painful for me to see how I look now and how I could have looked if I had a “normal” condition with my hair.

I regret that I can’t feel as physically beautiful as I could have with my missing locks of hair. I hate that I can’t leave my hair down as often like I used to be able to do everyday; I used to love how pretty my long curls and thick-looking hair used to make me feel. It made me feel much more physically attractive and thus much more confident. I didn’t just feel attractive– I felt freaking beautiful.

And now I feel like most of that beauty is all gone.

I’ve been feeling insecure lately about wearing my hair down in public (of course I’m quarantining right now and don’t get out as much, but that shame from my insecurities still remain even in the mere presence of myself). I usually keep it up into a bun at the top of my head. I feel like leaving it down makes the badness and thinness even more noticeable.

I can’t help but keep comparing current physical appearance to my physical appearance from later high school/the beginning of college. And I can’t help but want it back. It’s hard to keep the self-degrading thoughts away.

And I know that my physical appearance shouldn’t be prioritized over my inner beauty and my character. I prioritize the latter. But that doesn’t mean that my physical beauty isn’t important.

Taking care of one’s physical beauty is part of one’s self-care. It’s an act of kindness toward yourself. Maintaining your physical appearance isn’t done exclusively for the sake of other people and for having a certain social status. Of course there are certain ways you’d want to dress at home that you may not want to be seen like in public. But at its very core, maintaining your physical appearance is done or at least should be done for yourself.

I don’t want to feel pretty and physically beautiful only for when I’m at a party, on campus, walking in the city, or on a date. I want to feel pretty and beautiful always. I want to feel that way when I’m at home by myself.

I want to feel pretty for me.

Desi girls are supposedly blessed with thick, dark hair. In fact, they’re often blessed with so much of it that they wish their hair was a little thinner, or they’ll ask the barber to thin their hair out for them. While I’m missing that thickness from my head, my face wasn’t exempt from it resulting in several wax and threading sessions at the salon. If I had hair emptiness on my head, why couldn’t my face have it, too?!

Anyway,those fellow desi girls are so beautiful (masha Allah) I don’t have I wish I was blessed with the kind of beauty they were blessed with regarding hair and hair thickness. The thickness and texture of someone’s hair can go a long way in adding to their physical intrigue and confidence.

And I’m aware that my hair loss problems aren’t the end of the world, and that there are worse problems out there. But I’m not neglecting the brevity of those problems, and I’m not saying that what I’m going through regarding my hair is worse than these other problems. But a problem is a problem, and pain is pain, no matter how big or small. And while pain of greater extent may hurt more than pain of a smaller extent, both pains are still significant and serious.

I’m also aware that I’m not alone in this insecurity of hair loss. Of course men go through male pattern baldness, and I imagine that must be a lot for them to go through, too. Being a woman and experiencing baldness is even less acceptable by society; at the same time, I know that I am not the only woman who deal with hair loss.

I truly admire women who are experiencing what I’m going through or worse and are able to tackle life better than I can. I applaud the women who go bald completely and proudly show off their dis-conformation from society. I applaud anyone who remains confident about themselves against societal disapproval.

While I’m worse off than a lot of women regarding my hair insecurities, I’m also better off than others regrading my confidence and satisfaction with other facets of me. So I’m thankful for that. Being grateful and sad aren’t mutually exclusive.

As for now, I’m going to continue using Rogaine and try to find new ways of taking care of my hair shine. I’ve heard a lot about castor oil helping with hair growth, so I’m definitely going to look into trying that.


  1. Helen

    The honesty and openness of your writing is beautiful. I hope you reach a place where you feel comfortable in your situation.

    It’s not the same but I put on tonnes of weight in my final year of university, and I know exactly that feeling of looking back on photos of yourself and wishing you were still there. My weight has fluctuated up and down since then, but I’m reaching an age and a stage where I’m starting to prioritise what my body can do, and how it makes me feel, and thinking less about what it just looks like. Not always an easy process, but I think one that’s leaving me happier over all.


    1. Samantha Shamim

      Hi Helen! Thank you for your kind words. It definitely is a challenge to accept ourselves, but I’m happy your getting to a happier place. I’m currently trying to get myself into a similar mindset. I feel like so many societal pressures have conditioned us to think that certain looks are “right” and others are “wrong.” Like what you said, prioritizing more than just the looks of our bodies is really important. Hopefully it guides us to finding beauty in the physical parts of us. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my struggle regarding body image. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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