One of my little sisters friends used to pet my arm and say how much she loved my long arm hair that was as soft as a kittens. Guess what…as strange as that sounds, she was right. I did have extremely long, soft, unusual hair. The name for that “kitten like hair” is Lanugo hair.
Lanugo hair grows on infants in the womb as protection to keep their bodies warm, but it falls off either before birth or shortly after. However, it is not common or healthy for adults to have Lanugo hair…that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It actually isn’t unusual to see the hair grow on anorexics who lose to much weight and are approaching emaciation. The hair grows on anorexic’s arms, chests, and backs as a way of self insulation.
When I asked my mom what she remember about my Lanugo hair, she said she remembers it being everywhere on my body. It became so long and noticeable that she eventually started waxing it off before a pageant or big event.
In tennis, when I was wearing sports-bra-cut tops, I was always self-conscious of the awkward hair on my chest that no other girls seemed to have. When my mom did begin waxing the hair off my body, she decided to explain to me why I had grown this cat-like hair: “Just like animals grow hair to protect them from cold weather, your body is growing this hair to protect you from the cold since you have no fat on your body to do the job.”
As I’ve said in earlier blogs, anorexics aren’t always oblivious to how they are harming their bodies, but like a drug their addiction keeps them coming back for more. On top of that, when your body is constantly starving, your mind doesn’t think of much else. I couldn’t help but think about food and my eating game almost all day long. I would be in the middle of a dance or tennis match and be thinking of how much or little I would be able to eat for dinner. Food and my eating disorder owned my brain. Even if I had wanted to begin focusing on the harm that I was causing my body rather than the number on the scale, I couldn’t seem to make myself.