An Italian model who suffers from a compulsive hair-pulling disorder has posed nude to inspire those living with hair loss.
Sara Meucci, 28, from Florence, lost her hair after she started to suffer with trichotillomania, when she was just 12.
Trichotillomania is an impulse-control disorder where the person is unable to stop themselves from pulling their hair, often from their head, eyelashes or eyebrows.
Sara, known as Miss Swirl on
Sara Meucci, 28, a model from Florence, lost her hair after she started to suffer with compulsive hair pulling disorder trichotillomania when she was 12 (pictured modelling with a wig)
Sara, known as Miss Swirl on Instagram, started by pulling out her eyelashes as an anxiety relief, but her urge soon spread to her eyebrows and eventually to the hair on her head- seen modelling
She now models nude to help break the taboo around bald women, as well as sometimes wearing wigs
The activity would leave Sara feeling relaxed, but she soon found herself the subject of criticism by society who didn’t accept her baldness.
When out and about on the street, people would ask her if she had cancer or alopecia, and would be shocked when they heard that Sara’s baldness was a result of her own actions.
Now Sara, who started out as a nude model, has embraced her differences and is using it to inspire others in incredible new pictures.
Having not pulled out her hair for 11 years, Sara found that after she stopped her hair didn’t grow back properly.
Deciding to accept her hair loss as part of her look, she now shaves her head every couple of days to maintain it, and has since been working to help other women affected by hair loss caused by illness or compulsive disorders.
Speaking about the condition, she said: ‘I lost my hair through my own doing.
‘Trichotillomania is the trigger, but you are the one doing it to yourself and even if you feel you can’t help it, you don’t ever blame the disorder, you always put the blame on yourself’.
In this picture, Sara has shed her wig and models nude to show her ‘true’ self and encourage other women who suffer from hair loss to feel good about themselves
‘It started small, with one eyelash or two and then it got to my eyebrows and spread to my hair,’ she added.
‘I couldn’t resist the need of pulling and I didn’t try to resist that much, but when you repeatedly rip your hair with its bulb, there’s a high chance it won’t grow back.’
Recalling the beginning of the journey, she said: ‘I started at the age of 12, I am now 28 and have very little hair left so I do a total shave every two days.
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
‘Pulling my hair made me feel extremely calm and relaxed. Like any other compulsive disorder, it is triggered by your brain and it’s something that makes you feel really good.’
Talking about people’s reaction, she added: ‘Society’s standards about hair made me feel I was wrong, especially when I was a kid.
‘People are still pretty shocked by bald women or hairless faces in general and I can understand why, it’s not something you see every day. But I think we can work on that.’
And with awareness about Trichotillomania still low, many people assume she has alopecia, a hair loss disorder.
‘Most of the people thought I had cancer and others who were aware of alopecia, asked me if I had that,’ she said.
Deciding to accept her hair loss as part of her look, she now shaves her head every couple of days to maintain it, and has since been working to help other women affected by hair loss
Having pulled out her hair for 11 years, Sara found that after she stopped her hair didn’t grow back properly and she eventually learned to embrace it
‘No one thinks hair loss can be your own doing, no one knows about trichotillomania disorder.
‘Now the situation is different though, as soon as I embraced my bald look as part of my style, the majority of people see what I want them to see.’
However, Sara realised that as soon as she started accepting her look, others started to too.
She said: ‘When I stopped feeling sick and decided that there wasn’t anything wrong with me, that I could look good anyway, everything changed. I changed and people around me did too.’
Speaking about the life-changing moment she decided to stop hiding behind false lashes, headscarves and wigs, Sara admits she felt like a weight was lifted.
‘I knew that eventually embracing myself was something I had to do in order to find stability,’ she said.
‘One day, after a year spent in therapy talking about my insecurities, as I was trying to stick that fake eyelash that really didn’t want to cooperate and the scarf was feeling too tight, I decided it didn’t matter anymore and went out the way I was.
‘I think everything really resides in your confidence, in how bold you grow to be.’
Sara now frequently posts pictures on her
Proud of her own journey, she is currently working on a blog and YouTube channel with tips on how to behave in certain situations if you’re bald.
After having therapy to help her cure her disorder, she one day grew fed up of hiding behind headscarves and decided to show her true self
She has found that ever since embracing her look she is getting more support and acceptance from strangers
‘I am posting a lot of pictures on Instagram that I think could inspire other women like me and it works. I receive many thank you notes even from guys that have alopecia and mothers of kids that have it, other trichsters and many more,’ she said.
‘I have fought against depression and thoughts that were leading me to the wrong perception of myself, against the monsters living in my head, the judgmental words people my age, the pitying looks of adults and I am not afraid of being me anymore.
‘This is a journey every sensible human being has to go through at some point and it is heart-warming and encouraging to know that you are not the only person in the planet that went through all these troubles to find a place of happiness.
‘In the end, your ultimate goal is not to feel beautiful without hair, it is to understand how much your smile has far more power than your hair.’
Sara now frequently posts pictures on her Instagram page to help other women, and she often receives messages from people affected by hair loss thanking her for sharing her journey
Proud of her own journey, she is currently working on a blog and YouTube channel with tips on how to behave in certain situations if you’re bald