This Week's Teen Flaunt: Katherine Overcame Trich

cute selfieThe first time Katherine, 18, yanked a hair from her head, she was 12 years old. "I had just recently gotten bleach blonde highlights in my long dirty-blonde hair," she writes. "Looking in the mirror to examine my bangs and highlights, I noticed one hair longer than all the others. So I nonchalantly plucked it out."

What followed was a nearly six-year struggle with Trichotillomania ("Trich" for short), a disorder—often triggered by depression or stress—that causes the strong, compulsive urge to pull out hair from the scalp, face, or arms. The condition is hard for Katherine to describe, and even more difficult for others to understand. That's why she always wavered: Should she keep this difficult secret, or share?

Last October, though, Katherine finally felt ready to come clean, and that confession infused her with the energy and strength it took to overcome Trich once and for all:

I made a post on my public Facebook page saying a bit about Trichotillomania and my journey with the condition. The response was overwhelming. I received hundreds of likes and encouraging comments from people I never thought cared about me. I believe that this support helped me stop pulling.

wig v no wig

In Katherine's full essay, which is posted on the Teen Flaunt site, you'll find valuable lessons about teaching teens the power of owning their differences. Obviously you can't force someone to share their story before they're ready, but if you watch for hints, you can be the support system and guiding force that they need. (We give major props to Katherine's middle school science teacher for doing just that!) Read Katherine's Flaunt, then be sure to check out her YouTube page, which is truly inspiring.

If you would like to have your teenager or student (age 13-18) write a “Teen Flaunt” that could potentially be published on the Teen Flaunt page, please submit the proposed essay (no longer than 700 words) to: meg [at] megzucker [dot] com.