Hair Dictionary | reflections

(Some context: this was the work I did for Astrid’s VC4 class where we are to create a dictionary for our potential FYP topics)

Trichotillomania is a pretty small topic but hair, woah, hair is a huge huge topic.

Love it, hate it or fear it, hair has been so prevalent in human cultures over at our span of time on earth that it is intertwined in so much of the human condition. So much complexities and ironies lie amongst a pile of dead cells growing from your scalp. It is never “oh, it is just hair”.

I separated my dictionary into two parts. The first a preface of sorts. Why do I want to do this project, why hair? It was more on a cathartic self- expression and exploration piece and while doing it, I realised how much hair had played in my struggle for approval, an identity, and self love growing up. I imagined that this preface as a documentation of me treating myself as a word, what defines me, what are my origins, what do other people define me etc.

I’ve chosen this part to be illustrated as I wanted it to be 100% me and with illustration something that I am most comfortable with, it just felt natural expressing myself through this medium.

The second part of the dictionary is a tad more straightforward, I’ve collected main words and from those main words and its definitions, I categorised events, knowledge, cultures , etc etc into those parts. At the end of the book there are a list of artists that inspire me and how they treated the medium of hair or deal with issues of anxiety, identity and trauma.

IMG_20160425_163543 (1)

As much as the first part is 100% me, this component is 100% not me, in the sense that it contains themes, ideas and culture that are not mine. While the book is clean for now, I’ve included lots of white spaces to eventually turn this book into something JJ Abrams did for his book titled S.

The additional notations, highlighting scrapbooking done in a single book all by different personas and minds is just beautiful to me. It reminds me of the past where we could write and notate on books we own. I find the process slowing allowing more of my personality and thoughts into the book, slowly digesting these information into something that could amplify my own.

I am super excited to do so to my dictionary once I get more and more information about my topic during my FYP process.

For the fun of it, to probably just start off FYP where this project ends, I’ve also included a hair-o-graphics which documents (roughly) the hairstyles that I’ve had over the years and why they are done so. It compliments the first part of the dictionary and I guess it helps in explaining Trich to most people.

Overall, this dictionary experience is as cathartic as it is rough to make, over 80 pages in and I still feel that there are still a lot that I have not discovered and read about yet. Even so, it made me understand why people treat hair with almost god like importance or why they choose to remove it completely. Our human obsession with those dead cells is never only just hair but rather it as a common medium to express the multiple facets and complexities of our emotions.

In the end, it is only just hair right?




Facebook : a one day affair that went south

When I first planned on my dictionary, I wanted to be on what people saw of me, so I went on facebook.

The status went as planned:

” Hey guys, if you don’t mind, could you comment below some words that you feel describes my personality. Spam if you want, don’t spam is also fine with me, I’mma chill yo!”

It’s simple, chirpy and casual.

The results are as shown,

blur blur

Artsy fartsy

Total commitment

Creative, talented

Water bottle and math class

Lovable, polite and laid-back And talented!!

Talented auntie!

Passionate. (When you talked about certain people while at Cambodia.)


cutie pie

Bubbly/chirpy/helpful/funny (I know I don’t know you well enough but this are what I’ve noticed haha)

You dig deeper (like how you choose to look past the lipstick and focused on his dedication towards his work)

Creative, talented

Free spirited haha

I’ve realised that in some way or another, to an outsider that knows absolutely nothing about me, some comments are not going to make sense to them.

As such I’ve separated each comment by who the person is, the role they play in my life, the memories that we share to understand what compelled them to spend time to comment on this silly facebook post.

I feel a tad mean in saying this, spare for a few select people, those who commented are people I spend less than 3 hours with in a week. Some are people who I have not talked to for years! I appreciate their kindness though.

Of course, as me, I don’t really feel the same way about myself as they feel about me. As much as I want to sustain it, the positivity in me is waning, lately it feels like I’m trying to be happy mainly for myself rather than for others.

It makes me wonder if people will still see me the same way when I’m no longer cheery.


Anxiety is a rough one to battle.

It’s not something that I’d want to profess, it’s not something I’d like to hide either.

My horrible struggles with trichotillomania is not helping either.

What the heck is trichotillomania? 

Google image this stuff and be prepared to cringe a little, or a lot, it’s all up to you.

Wikipedia it and you’ll get this:

Trichotillomania is defined as a self-induced and recurrent loss of hair. It includes the criterion of an increasing sense of tension before pulling the hair and gratification or relief when pulling the hair.

Anxiety, depression and obsessive–compulsive disorder are more frequently encountered in people with trichotillomania. Trichotillomania has a high overlap with post traumatic stress disorder, and some cases of trichotillomania may be triggered by stress.

Another school of thought emphasizes hair pulling as addictive or negatively reinforcing as it is associated with rising tension beforehand and relief afterward. A neurocognitive model — the notion that the basal ganglia plays a role in habit formation and that the frontal lobes are critical for normally suppressing or inhibiting such habits — sees trichotillomania as a habit disorder.


“Eh, so when you are not stressed you don’t pull is it?”

Yup. So you could say that it comes in stages, the baldness that comes with stress and the regrowth that comes in an low stress environment.

“so don’t pull larh!”

The thing is that it’s hard not to. It’s habitual and it’s actually comforting to some level, it’s like relieving an itch.

“will there be a point where your hair don’t regrow again”

Here is the scary part, yeah, there’s a chance! As someone who dislike deadlines and permanence, here goes something that gives me anxiety.

Now my anxiety have anxieties. heh.

“Do you still go to the hairdressers?”

I haven’t for slightly over a year and I’d like to, someday.

“Don’t stress! Don’t stress!”

I’ll try, thank you.


While researching on Van Gogh, more or less that one guy we all wished we could travel back in time to talk to and comfort, I came about this quote from him,

What moulting is to birds, the time when they change their feathers, that’s adversity or misfortune, hard times, for us human beings. One may remain in this period of moulting, one may also come out of it renewed, but it’s not to be done in public, however; it’s scarcely entertaining, it’s not cheerful, so it’s a matter of making oneself scarce.

Then I went, “huh!”
Hair, moulting, regrowth, here goes a new direction to my dictionary I guess.