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Topic: Self-conscious about short hair

Forum: Sex & Relationship Matters —

A safe place to talk candidly about how your romantic relationships and/or your sex life has changed following your diagnosis and treatment.

Posted on: Jan 11, 2020 01:56AM - edited Jan 11, 2020 01:56AM by nurseandrea

nurseandrea wrote:

Hi all,

I am 22 years old and I finished chemotherapy in August. I had very long hair before chemo and it was something I liked about myself, and a lot of my partners (all men) liked as well. I'm starting to grow my hair back but it's still very short. I really want to get back into dating but I'm so self conscious about my hair. I keep thinking I'm less beautiful than other women because of it and it would be easy for a boyfriend to leave me for another woman. It's holding me back from dating entirely.

I have a lot of other redeeming qualities. I'm smart, I have a great job and a nice body (lol), but I can't seem to care enough about those things. I can't get over how short my hair is. I'm really depressed about it. A guy from work actually asked me out for coffee a few days ago, but I turned him down (he's 9 years older than me)

Not that it matters, but I had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, not breast cancer. I just thought these forums might have someone who understands how I feel. Can anyone relate? How did you get through this? Do you have any advice?

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Jan 11, 2020 03:59AM - edited Jan 11, 2020 04:02AM by blah333

I'm sure you'll get some people to chime in here.

The idea of losing my hair bothers me too. I have not had to have chemo but have had recurrence-scares where I imagine going down that road. A friend of mine is in treatment and shaved her head prior and it suits her in a way, somehow she looks cute (she used to shave it back in the 80s too). But I would not feel like myself if I had to alter my hair to a style not of my choosing and don't think it would suit me as it grows back in. I found myself wondering how long it would take to grow back in the interim (years, it's down to my upper/middle back). I don't like the idea of having to look like a lesbian for 2 years or whatever.... my minimal style would not be compatible with that look. I will say - some men like short hair! Though my current partner broke up with someone recently who chopped all of her hair off very cropped and short, he told me once to never cut my hair off... lol well I guess I'll be alone if I ever have to lose my hair and probably not have sex for a few years :(. I'd expect to have to be alone during cancer treatment, not having a husband.

Anyway - your lymphoma is behind you right? Now all that's holding you back is your hair length? You're only 22! It will be back before you know it, still with plenty of years left for dating. If you have to rely on your hair to be beautiful you might not be as beautiful as you thought you were. Beauty is in the face! And in personality, how you carry yourself, your personal character. Your current state is temporary. If you are worried about someone leaving you, try focusing on developing friendships with someone first. Your age can also be terrible - most guys are trying to have casual sex and rack up numbers so even if you had your long hair still you might have someone leave you or diss you or be shitty. It happens to the most beautiful women too. Just take it slowly. No harm in socializing. Be patient about developing something serious and perhaps protect yourself slightly until you feel less vulnerable or sensitive.

Age 35 at diagnosis Dx 9/2017, DCIS, Left, 6cm+, Stage 0, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+ Surgery 12/1/2017 Mastectomy: Left, Right
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Jan 11, 2020 08:19AM keepthefaith wrote:

NA, I have always prided myself in my hair also and get compliments on it ...still at 64 yrs. old. Very full, thick and wavy. My hair was long enough to donate, before chemo. I did my best to embrace the bald/short look and when it came back it was very curly. I loved it. I bought a wig that resembled my hair, after the initial cut, prior to chemo. I took photos of my hair-growing process to try to come to terms with it and see the progress... I am not in the dating world, but there are men that really don't care about hair and if they do, who wants them anyway? If they have never met you, they don't know the difference seeing you with short hair.. You may be self-conscious about it now, but take advantage of it and wear some beautiful ear-rings, show off your face and beautiful smile. This is your chance to be free of the care and maintenance that long hair brings. Find some fashionable caps/hats, check out some cute short styles and have fun with it! Biotene shampoo/supplement may help restore it faster, but not certain. Best wishes!

Dx 9/17/2013, IDC, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/17/2013 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel Chemotherapy 12/2/2013 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Chemotherapy 12/25/2013 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Chemotherapy 1/15/2014 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Chemotherapy 2/10/2014 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 3/31/2014 Breast Hormonal Therapy 5/22/2014
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Jan 11, 2020 09:56AM MelissaDallas wrote:

nurseandrea, I will tell you, from a different perspective, that I always had short hair, often very short, in my teens and twenties (and now) and I can assure you that men,LOTS of them, found me very sexy and were beating the door down. I understand that long hair is part of your narrative in your head about who you are and how you see yourself, but any guy who passes you over because of how long your hair is doesn’t give a damn about you or who you are.

LCIS, extensive sclerosing adenosis, TAH/BSO & partial omentectomy for mucinous borderline ovarian tumor.
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Jan 11, 2020 04:36PM MinusTwo wrote:

Well said Melissa & Keep the Faith. While lots of men say they like long hair, just as many like short & perky - and really it's not who you are inside. But it is a self image issue.

I too always had long hair and I really miss it. I'm waaaaaay past the dating age, or really even giving a rats a$$ about what anyone else thinks, but every time I look in the mirror, it's not me. I can't wear earrings because my ear lobes are no longer at the same level. (I know - probably no one but me notices) And my neck and ears are cold all the time. I've tried growing it back but can't get past that unkempt, shaggy, stage - so 6 years later, I still have short hair. And IT'S NOT ME. So I try to avoid mirrors.

2/15/11 BMX-DCIS 2SNB clear-TEs; 9/15/11-410gummies; 3/20/13 recurrance-5.5cm,mets to lymphs, Stage IIIB IDC ER/PRneg,HER2+; TCH/Perjeta/Neulasta x6; ALND 9/24/13 1/18 nodes 4.5cm; AC chemo 10/30/13 x3; herceptin again; Rads Feb2014
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Jan 11, 2020 05:47PM nurseandrea wrote:

I do feel like i look like a lesbian with short hair. Especially since I never wear makeup and I wear a lot of black and menswear. It's not that looking like a lesbian is a bad thing at all, it doesn't bother me if people think that about me, it's just that it isn't who I am. It hurts to have people look at you and see something you aren't.

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Jan 11, 2020 05:50PM nopink2019 wrote:

Our self image is hugely affected by how we perceive how our hair looks. Not rational maybe, but just a fact. But, that perception could be wrong. Maybe your long hair said "I've not got enough self confidence to grow up and get a real hair style". How do you feel about 60 year old women who keep their 1990's hairstyles? Time to update, right? I hate my hair loss and wig too (second time around). I've got several months before I can get my hair shaped and ditch the wig, but I've already been looking at "best hairstyles for short hair". But all you can do is find a great hairstylist who respects individuality and get a short cut and highlights. Tip those short ends something fabulous. Buy beautiful earrings. Show off your lovely neck. Have coffee with the guy.

Dx 2008, IDC, Stage IA, Grade 3, ER+/PR-, HER2- Dx 2019, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/liver/lungs, ER+/PR-, HER2- Hormonal Therapy Faslodex (fulvestrant) Targeted Therapy Kisqali
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Jan 11, 2020 05:51PM nurseandrea wrote:

Melissa- what you said about the narrative really makes sense to me. I don't want to waste my time with guys who don't really care about who I am, I've never been the type for one-night stands and all that stuff. I barely even identify as a cancer survivor because of how much I don't want to bring my short hair into my narrative, so to speak. I'm working to get over that.

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Jan 11, 2020 06:02PM MountainMia wrote:

Yep, go for coffee with him, unless you wouldn't under better circumstances.

My hair is very short, too, and weird and wavy, instead of long, smooth, and straight like it used to be. It's fine, whatever. Objectively I know it looks fine, maybe even good. Mostly I just wish it wasn't a constant reminder of cancer and cancer treatment. What you said about people seeing something you aren't -- that's hard regardless of what your sense of what you ARE is. I think of myself as someone who is healthy, sturdy, muscular, strong, and with long, smooth hair. But I'm NOT. And I hate that. So maybe... maybe it's because *I* see something I'm not that hurts most. It's sure a big conflict with my prior self-image.

I wish you all the best, nurseandrea. It's a hard road. Safe travels.

The rain comes and the rain goes, but the mountain remains. I am the mountain.
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Jan 11, 2020 08:02PM hapa wrote:

I had long hair my whole life practically before breast cancer. I never would have cut my hair shorter than shoulder length, but of course it fell out during chemo. When it grew back enough to ditch the beanies, I got tons of people telling me how cute my pixie cut was. Even strangers would comment on how much they liked my short hair. And most of these strangers were men. Anyway, I kept growing it out and it got to about shoulder length. I was talking to a coworker one day and he mentioned how much my hair had grown, and how everyone had gotten together and talked about it and decided they liked it when it was really short. He was half joking, but I think they really did talk about it and thought it looked better short. Even some of the operators on the floor, like, curmudgeony 60 year old men, would tell me that when I had the pixie cut it was "so cuuuuute!" I got it cut again two days ago, I'm back to the pixie cut. I took a picture of Twiggy in to my hairstylist (she's too young to know who that is, lol) and I'm rocking the pixie again!

If you have a nice body, short hair will look good on you, it's a fact. Being young doesn't hurt either.

Dx 3/20/2018, IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIIA, 3/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Targeted Therapy 3/28/2018 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 3/28/2018 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Chemotherapy 3/28/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 8/22/2018 Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant Radiation Therapy 10/22/2018 Whole-breast: Lymph nodes, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy 12/21/2018 Arimidex (anastrozole), Zoladex (goserelin) Targeted Therapy Nerlynx
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Jan 11, 2020 08:54PM mitziandbubba wrote:

I did not have chemo but my hair is very short by choice. I second what MelissaDallas has said - a good guy is not going to care if your hair is short or long. I have dated plenty of guys who said that they are not attracted to women with short hair but they still asked me out anyway. I even shaved my head a few times by choice when I was a teen and again in my 30s.

My mom, who also always had very short hair and no issues getting male attention told me men do not know what they like, you need to show them! My own husband did not like short hair when we met, and I guess b/c he loves me he LOVES it. He always wants me to go shorter and if I went shorter I'd have to shave my head. Go figure!

I have basically always had short hair since I was a teenager and I'm 49 soon - and I have always gotten plenty of attention from men. One thing I love about having short hair (and mine is VERY short) is that you can wear very sexy clothing and it sort of balances it out. In fact, I always think of that as my style philosophy - I have a boyish haircut so I can wear red lips, sexy clothes etc and it isn't too much. Especially if you are curvy, I think it looks great. And big earrings!

One suggestion is to look online at celebs with short hair and maybe someone catches your eye and will give you ideas for your own look? I am a huge fan of Charlize Theron for example!

Surgery 5/9/2019 Lumpectomy: Left Surgery 5/29/2019 Lymph node removal: Sentinel Dx IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Jan 11, 2020 09:59PM MelissaDallas wrote:

Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor...all devastatingly sexy with short hair

LCIS, extensive sclerosing adenosis, TAH/BSO & partial omentectomy for mucinous borderline ovarian tumor.
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Jan 11, 2020 10:50PM DebraC wrote:

Nurseandrea, I too don’t feel like myself with this short wavy curly hair. I’ve never had long hair but a straight highlighted bob style. Maybe by next year, I’ll have it again. Lots of people compliment me on it being cute too. (I think I and hear I look just like my mom. 😏)
Aside from hair, have coffee with the guy. My husband and I are 11 years apart. Just had our 30th anniversary. I was 25 when he was 36 when we started dating. I decided I wanted a man versus a boy. You never know how it will go.

Debbie - Dx age 55 Oncotype 63 Dx 1/9/2019, DCIS/IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 1/23/2019 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel Surgery 3/6/2019 Lumpectomy Chemotherapy 4/2/2019 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 6/26/2019 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 8/1/2019 Arimidex (anastrozole)
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Jan 12, 2020 06:02PM - edited Jan 12, 2020 06:02PM by edwards750

You are way too young to be dealing with chemo/hair loss but here you are. Because you are so young you have a lifetime to grow your hair back.

I had long hair when I was your age and loved it but it was fine too so it took some managing. Still the guys did like it. I got tired of fooling with it everyday so I had it cut short and cried for weeks. My BFF at the time didn't like short hair. It was a cute style but he didn't budge in his opinion. One of his many issues.

We can say it doesn't matter because of what's inside but you are 22 and it is a big deal. There are really cute hair styles for short hair so find one and have your hairdresser cut it that way. I've experimented with a lot of different styles over the years. My hair is straight but I've had curly hair too. Currently it's a bob that's just below my ears.

I would go with him to coffee too. Chances he didn't ask you because of your hair.


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Jan 13, 2020 01:56AM WC3 wrote:


I had long hair before chemotherapy as well. I found that I wasn't upset about having short hair afterwards but I had also lost a lot of weight and looked sickly. I remember sitting at the mall wishing I looked healthy like the women around me.

If you want my honest perspective on the hair, yes many men do tend to prefer longer hair. However I still think there are plenty of men who would love to date you and I don't think a man who would start dating you with short hair would leave you because of it.

Pathologic complete response (pCR) to chemotherapy. Dx 2018, IDC, Left, 3cm, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 6/1/2018 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 11/15/2018 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Targeted Therapy Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy Herceptin (trastuzumab) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant
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Jan 13, 2020 09:16AM claireinaz wrote:

I was terrified of losing my hair before chemo started, and terrified of having short "boy" hair as it grew in. Then I found that I loved my short hair so much (when my hair began to grow back) that I kept it super short for years. That shocked the heck out of me! I dressed a bit more "girly" and bought some really pretty earrings, so I always looked feminine. My husband said that there was no way anyone would ever mistake me for a man, or looking "mannish".

If a guy won't date a woman simply because she doesn't have long hair--well, that tells me how shallow he is, and I wouldn't want to have anything to do with him anyway.

Consider Michele Williams, Scarlett Johansson, Halle Berry--they have pixie cuts and look great. Your hair will probably grow to your shoulders in about 18 months if you want to grow it out, so you just have to be patient and get good trims while you are growing it out-it makes a difference while you are growing it out if that is the way you want to go.

Claire in AZ

9/29/11 ILC, 2 c. stage II grade 1, ER/PR+ HER2-, 6/11 nodes, lumpectomy, DDAC x 4, Taxol x 12, 33 rads, Tamoxifen/arimidex/aromasin, BMX/immed recon 7/3/13 "In the midst of winter, I found in me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus
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Jan 22, 2020 05:11PM - edited Jan 22, 2020 05:13PM by wallycat

I think it makes a difference for gals when they elect to have short hair vs. having it foisted on them from drugs/cancer. Having said that, in my 20s and early 30s, I was obsessed with my hair. Obsessed. It was gorgeously thick, dark and easily responded to curling or blowdrying straight.
I remember doing a work stint in Paris and my office mate was a woman from Guatemala (then living/relocating to Paris) who had THE shortest hair I had ever seen in my life. I envied her freedom from being "beholdin'" to US societal fixation on hair. She looked chic and energetic and strong. I remember her wanting to fix me up with a buddy of her husband's, so we all met one saturday to do the Champagne region and check out a few of those champ. houses. I almost died when I saw her husband open the car door ....OOOLALALALALALA! I dare say that moment stuck with me. It dawned on me that I was less in love with my hair and more in love with the notion that hot men respond to longer hair. Fast forward 2 or so years when I met an amazing man. During our dating, I had mentioned thinking of cutting my hair short. Color-me-surprised when he said >>>DO IT! Turns out he ADORES women with short hair. Thinks there is nothing sexier than a gal with a short cut. 26-1/2 years later, we are married, still happy and I have never looked back on cutting it short and keeping it short. The amount of money and time I have saved not "dealing" with my hair is a bonus.

Short haired gals that rock it...Halle Berry; Charlize Theron; Judi Dench, Jada Pinkett, Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johannsen, Isabella Rossellini, Mia Farrow, Winona Ryder...and on and on and on.....

Dx 4/07 1 month before turning 50; ILC 1.8cm, ER+/PR+, HER2 neg., Stage 1, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes. Onco score 20, Bilateral Mast., tamoxifen 3-1/2 years, arimidex-completed 4/20/2012

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