Rebecca Brown’s video Shaving My Hair Off trended on Facebook and Twitter, and was widely reported by mainstream media.
Rebecca suffers from trichotillomania, a disorder where a person feels compelled to pull their hair out. It is thought that around one percent of the UK population suffer from the condition. Rebecca is a prominent speaker about this disorder, using her videos to raise awareness.
In the video, she explained that shaving is a last resort, and does not stop the disorder, merely offering her scalp a chance to recover. “I’m fed up of being triggered and tortured by the hair on my head,” she said, explaining that tearing out her hair has left her with a lot of permanent damage, and “it’s either shave my hair or lose my hair”.
It is the seventh time she has shaved her head, but the first time she has posted a shaving video. She explained that it was filmed for documentation purposes.
“I try to depict the whole truth about my disorder,” she tells TenEighty. “I document sad and good times, for if I only shared the good moments, people wouldn’t understand the depths of what trichotillomania is.”
Rebecca has received mixed responses in real life and online, including disconnection, shaming, and attempts to diagnose and instruct her. “After a decade of being on YouTube, I’ve learned not to take the hurtful comments too seriously!” she says. “Much of the time, their reaction is due to misunderstanding or having a lack of knowledge of the disorder, so I try to remember that when I see their comments. There are times where I address the negativity and stigma head-on, and that results in more content that people can connect to and share to help in their own lives.”
Asked how she reacted to the video’s virality, she says: “When I post my videos, I don’t create them with an aim of achieving viral content. This time round, I knew this video would have an impact of some kind, so I did worry! It’s been a few years since I’ve had to go through full-on baldness and I didn’t know how people would react”.
She has expressed her gratitude for the support she has received in follow-up video Reflecting On Responses, and tells TenEighty that “people have been showing support for others with trichotillomania too, which is touching to see. It’s created another wave of awareness, so that in itself is a fantastic outcome for trichotillomania”.
More information on trichotillomania is available from the NHS Choices website.
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