Woman with bald patches says wig-loving celebs have helped confidence

Woman, 27, with a large bald patch who’s been pulling her hair out since the age of eight reveals how wearing a wig has given her the confidence to finally overcome the habit

  • Hattie Gilford, 27, from Surrey, has been hair-pulling since the age of eight 
  • She suffers from a rare impulse control disorder known as trichotillomania
  • But celebrities’ love of wigs have helped Hattie embrace her patchy locks

A woman left with devastating bald patches after suffering from a rare hair-pulling disorder has revealed how wig-loving celebrities like Kylie Jenner have helped her feel confident again.

Hattie Gilford, 27, from Surrey, has been hair-pulling since the age of eight and has since been left with a large bald patch on the top of her head.

The account manager suffers from trichotillomania, also known as trich, which is an impulse control disorder that causes sufferers to recurrently, impulsively pull out their hair at the root.

Despite trying various techniques to stop her compulsion, Hattie says that finally embracing her baldness, plus her love of wigs on Instagram, has helped her overcome her habit.


Hattie Gilford (pictured), 27, from Surrey, has been hair-pulling since the age of eight and has since been left with a large bald patch on the top of her head

The account manager (pictured when her condition first started as a young child) suffers from trichotillomania, also known as trich, which is an impulse control disorder that causes sufferers to recurrently, impulsively pull out their hair at the root


Hattie (pictured in various wig styles) says it’s finally embracing her baldness plus her love of wigs on Instagram that has helped her overcome her habit

She said: ‘Creating my Instagram account helped me discover that there is an amazing world of alternate hair.

‘This allows you to literally change your hair up with a click of your finger. Before this, I hadn’t really ever considered wearing a wig or a hairpiece. I guess I naively thought that wearing a wig was for women who were completely bald.

‘As much as I hate to say it, celebrities such as Kylie Jenner (who boasts a love for wigs) have really helped to normalise wig wearing and I think it’s become very accepted today. 

‘People started to realise you didn’t even need to have a hair loss condition to wear wigs, they’re for everyone.’

Since joining an Instagram campaign which encourages trich sufferers to stop pulling their hair, Hattie hasn’t plucked any locks since October 27, 2019.


Since joining an Instagram campaign which encourages trich sufferers to stop pulling their hair, Hattie hasn’t plucked any locks since October 27, 2019. Pictured: Hattie’s bald patch

Hattie said interacting with other people who have the disorder, as well as posting on her Instagram account – @my_trich_journey, has helped her become more aware and accountable of her actions

She said interacting with other people who have the disorder, as well as posting on her Instagram account – @my_trich_journey, has helped her become more aware and accountable of her actions.

Hattie also has a star chart to keep track of her progress and always carries Play-Doh  dough with her so that when she feels the urge to pull, she can fidget with that instead.

Explaining her decision to start using wigs, Hattie said: ‘I spent two months researching what I wanted to buy and purchased a hair topper. Buying it has been the best thing I’ve done for my confidence. 

‘I literally clip it on in under thirty seconds and it conceals my bald patch completely. Giving me the opportunity to wear hairstyles I’ve never been able to and giving me a parting back that I haven’t had since I was eight-years-old. 

‘There’s nothing vain about wanting to look and feel good. I’m extremely proud of myself and the motivation and determination I have that I didn’t realise was in me.

Explaining her decision to start using wigs, Hattie, see above, said: ‘I spent two months researching what I wanted to buy and purchased a hair topper. Buying it has been the best thing I’ve done for my confidence’

She continued: ‘Before I wore wigs and toppers I had a very set routine. I had hair extensions to make my hair longer,

‘I would spray my bald patch with brown hair shampoo so you couldn’t see my shiny white scalp and I’d backcomb the front of my hairline and then wear it in a top knot and spray it with a lot of hairspray to keep it in place.’ 

Hattie’s compulsion began nearly two decades ago when she swapped her nail-biting habit for hair-pulling.  

‘I started pulling my hair out when I was eight-years-old. An avid nail biter at the time, my mum offered me £1 for every nail I stopped biting and I soon stopped,’ she explained.

‘The problem is I’m a very fidgety person and I replaced my nail-biting habit with pulling my hair out instead. Essentially swapping one body-focused repetitive disorder (BFRD) for another.’    

Hattie’s compulsion began nearly two decades ago when she swapped her nail-biting habit for hair-pulling. Pictured: Hattie embracing her baldness

Hattie (pictured with her pet dog) says discovering wigs and hair toppers has transformed her look and means that she’s able to pick styles she’s not tried since childhood

She recalled: I think the first time I did it was on a long five hour car journey where I pulled out a hair and became fascinated by the follicle, I couldn’t believe that it had come out of a tiny hole on my head. 

‘Most of the time when pulling out my hair I’m not conscious of doing so, it’s an absent-minded habit and you actually become numb to the pain.’

Despite living with the condition for more than half her life, Hattie admitted that her bald patches can sometimes make her feel self-conscious.

‘There are days where it really gets to me,’ she confessed. ‘Where I don’t feel like I can hide my bald patch well enough, or I don’t feel beautiful at all because of it and I just want to be “normal”.

Despite living with the condition for more than half her life, Hattie (pictured on holiday) admitted that her bald patches can sometimes make her feel self-conscious

Hattie (pictured wearing a wig) admitted: ‘Having a really big visible bald patch on the top my head can make me feel really ugly and down at times’

‘It’s so easy to compare yourself to women with amazing hair and just wish you had it – but I always remind myself that nobody has a perfect life; everyone has their own problems and is on their own personal journey.

‘I’ve always longed for the perfect head of hair but I’m slowly learning hair is not what makes you beautiful and that my boyfriend, family and friends don’t care what I look like and if there are people that do, they’re not worth my time.

Hattie admitted: ‘Having a really big visible bald patch on the top my head can make me feel really ugly and down at times. 

WHAT IS TRICHOTILLOMANIA?

Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder that causes sufferers to recurrently, impulsively pull out their hair at the root.

Sufferers often feel a high level of tension and a strong urge to pull, followed by pleasure or relief when it is done. 

The condition may be caused by anxiety or depression and can result in baldness.

Females are most commonly affected with the condition usually starting between the ages of nine and 13.

Treatment focuses on therapy that records what an individual’s triggers are and how to overcome them. 

Source: OCD UK

‘There have been moments where people have taken photos of me and when I’ve seen it afterwards I’ve noticed my bald patch is visible and I find that quite hard – especially when it’s a day that I thought I’d covered it well.’

But Instagram has made Hattie feel confident again, and she says her ‘relationship with her appearance has improved drastically’.

‘It’s been amazing to be able to share these images with this community on Instagram,’ she said. ‘It’s helping me view myself quite differently – with or without a hairpiece covering it up.

‘It’s helping me focus on other aspects of my appearance such as my smile which people always comment on. 

‘I used to always cover my bald patch up religiously from my boyfriend, family and friends when at home but now I can relax a bit and realise that I don’t always have to have perfect hair.’

But Instagram has made Hattie (pictured with her mother) feel confident again, and she says her ‘relationship with her appearance has improved drastically’

Hattie has a star chart, seen above, to keep track of her progress and always carries play dough with her so that when she feels the urge to pull, she can fidget with that instead

Hattie, who has started cognitive behavioural therapy sessions to help her become aware of her actions, wants to show that there is no shame in having trichotillomania. 

‘The message I want to get out there is: there is a light at the end of the tunnel, you’re not alone in this. There are thousands and thousands of people just like you with exactly the same condition trying to muddle through life too,’ she said.

‘I’m putting myself and my bald patch out there for all the women and men with trich that aren’t quite ready to share their story yet, to show them that it does get better and you shouldn’t let trich stop you from doing anything you want to do.

‘I also hope this message reaches people who don’t have trichotillomania but might one day meet someone with it so they can understand the condition a bit better.’

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