Health 01 June 2019
Growing up, I had anxiety—and as a result I started pulling out my hair. It began around the age of 11. I have learning disabilities so school was always a challenge for me. I went to a very competitive private school in New York and was surrounded by students who had exceptional grades.
With my learning disabilities, I felt like an outcast. My grades never reflected the amount of hard work I put in and all that work would just stress me out. The times I'd pull my hair were the times I was the most anxious about it. I thought I just had a tic, like nail-biting. I didn't know it was a behavioral disorder with a name: trichotillomania. The danger in it is that constant pulling over time can cause permanent hair loss because the follicle becomes smaller and smaller until it no longer grows hair at all.
By the time I was in middle school, I started getting bald spots and patches on the top of my head. I was mortified. I couldn't bring myself to go to a salon because I'd always get questioned about why I was missing so much hair. My hair grew long but the top was thin and patchy. It was humiliating. At school we weren't allowed us to wear hats indoors but any other time I could wear one, I would. Otherwise I'd put a headband on or try to part my hair differently so the patches didn't show. I even tried using root spray to cover up the paleness of the bald spots, so if you were looking at me from a distance it wouldn't be glaringly obvious.
My hair problems deeply affected my self-esteem. I would always sit in the back of the classroom—not because I wanted to be far away from the teacher—because I didn't want people to see the back of my head. It was the same in church; I would make my mother sit in the very back pew with me. Always worrying about this in public settings was draining. And to look in the mirror and see the damage I was doing to myself really tore me up inside.
My senior year of high school, with all the pressure of applying to college, I was having a very, very hard time managing my pulling. But I never sought help or therapy. I was trying to handle it all on my own. But by that point, I knew I had to do something. My mom and I began doing research and we discovered Unique Hair Concepts. I called Flora for a consultation and have been with her team ever since. She has saved me in ways that she'll never know.
The first thing they did was create a small clip-in piece for the top of my head. It was such an emotional moment: I cried, my mom cried and I think even the stylist cried. I felt so much better, immediately. Not only did it hide my bald spot, but it also kept it covered so I couldn't pull. After a few months, the hair in that area started growing back. It made me realize that, wow, I can really turn this around.
While that helped take care of the cosmetic issue, I still had to address the psychological ones. I started seeing a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in body-focused repetitive disorders and who actually had a background in treating trichotillomania. In the beginning, we talked about what my triggers are, the things that make me really want to pull. We did Reiki healing and hypnosis; she also introduced me to the use of essential oils. I would put oil on the hand I used to pull with so that when that I would go to pull, I would smell the oil and feel calmer. She also introduced me to fidget toys to keep my hands occupied, which helped so much that I ended up getting my own set.
These days, I still see the healer from time to time and I wear custom-made CNC-XT hair prosthetics (which stay on for 4-5 weeks even through exercise, showering and styling) over the areas that need them. And I keep fidget toys in my bag all the time. It feels so good to have the support to manage it both cosmetically and therapeutically. I've been so inspired by the help I received that I am now studying to be a therapist myself.
The one thing I would tell other people suffering with trich is this: you are not alone. There's no need to suffer in silence or try to manage it by yourself. There's no need to be embarrassed about it. It's not your fault; it's a medical condition. And more than anything else, help is available. I've found a way to live with it and, believe me, you can too.
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I think we can all agree that we are living in unprecedented times, and many of us are experiencing challenges in both our personal and professional lives. But it is important to remember that often, challenging moments present opportunities for change. Right now, companies and individuals are using this time to rethink how they conduct their business, the resources critical to their success, and how they go about their daily activities. And what we are seeing is that more and more people, especially women, are taking control of their lives by starting their own businesses.
While it is estimated that the number of women-owned businesses is one-quarter to one-third of all enterprises worldwide, there are still many women who aspire to make entrepreneurship a reality. A new Herbalife Nutrition survey conducted by OnePoll of 9,000 women across 15 countries, including 2,000 women in the U.S., found that globally, 72% of women want to open their own business. Of those, 50% don't yet have a business and 22% have one but would like to open another.
Women want to have more control over their future, but they are committed to helping future generations by being a role model for younger women; 80% believe this is a strong motivating factor.
The second annual survey, which explores women and entrepreneurship globally, revealed the overwhelming challenges women experience in the traditional workplace compared to their male colleagues. In fact, more than 60% of women said they would like to start a business due to unfair treatment in previous job roles. Of the women surveyed, 7 in 10 believe that women must work harder to have the same opportunities as men in the workforce. Results also revealed that 43% of women have delayed having children because they thought it would negatively affect their career, and 25% said they had faced pregnancy discrimination. 42% believe they've been unfairly overlooked for a raise or promotion because of their gender — and of those, the average respondents had it happen three separate times. These are a few of the challenges that have been a catalyst for the surge in entrepreneurship among women.
The irony is that startups founded and cofounded by women performed better than their men counterparts: on average women-owned firms generated 10% higher cumulative revenue over five years, compared with men.
With the barriers and negative experiences women cited in the workforce, it is not surprising that across the globe, the top motivation for starting a business is to run it themselves (61%). Women want to have more control over their future, but they are committed to helping future generations by being a role model for younger women; 80% believe this is a strong motivating factor.
But the women surveyed don't expect entrepreneurship to be smooth sailing: one-third of women with plans for entrepreneurship are "very worried" about their business — or future business — failing in the next five years. The top three challenges when starting a business center around finances — earning enough money to offset costs, having enough budget to grow, and financing their business. And when it comes to financing, women face stark disparities in the capital they often need to fund their business. Boston Consulting Group found that women entrepreneurs averaged $935,000 in investments, which is less than half the average of $2.1 million invested in companies founded by men entrepreneurs. The irony is that startups founded and cofounded by women performed better than their men counterparts: on average women-owned firms generated 10% higher cumulative revenue over five years, compared with men.
Women entrepreneurs create a source of income for themselves and their families. They are a vital part of our world's economic engine that society needs to support with flexible opportunities, mentorship, and access to capital. Herbalife Nutrition is proud that more than half of our independent distributors worldwide are women who set up their businesses and decide when and where they work and do so on their terms. We need to invest in women entrepreneurs, not only to help one generation, but to offer role models for the next.