What Color is My Hair? by Audrey Ratzlaff :: Timbrel Autumn 2015

by Audrey Ratzlaff Audrey Ratzlaff lives near Peabody, Kansas, with her husband, Aaron, and daughter, Nadia. She graduated from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in 2007 with a Master of Divinity degree; served as pastor in Donnellson, Iowa for three years; then returned to her home state of Kansas. She is an active member of the leadership circle at New Creation Fellowship Church in Newton, Kansas. Audrey can be reached here: aaratzlaff@yahoo.com

Once, I led a Children’s Time during worship, asking the youngsters to share everything they knew about me: what they’d been told and what they could gather with their own senses. These were the most polite children—none wanted to mention my baldness. Finally I asked directly, “What color is my hair?” The hesitant and uncertain response: “Clear?”

At other times and places, I have appreciated the approach of young children: “What happened to your hair?” they ask with no assumptions or prejudices. I tell them that my hair was sick and fell out and got into everything (like my clothes, my food, my mouth).

I have alopecia areata. This means my immune system attacks my hair follicles and damages the growing hairs; the cause is unknown. The condition can be limited to the scalp, but sometimes spreads to other parts of the body in an unpredictable cycle of loss and regrowth. In my case, most of the hair on my head has fallen out in patches over the past 14 years, and I have lost most of my eyebrows and some of my eyelashes. Some patches have regrown in varying colors and textures, but if I would allow it to grow, there would still be damaged hair falling out, and the patchwork of color and texture is, to me, not manageable or attractive, so I have chosen to shave my head. Yes, I tried wigs and found them physically uncomfortable. I also felt that I would be more self-consciousness worrying that people could tell it was fake. Continue reading