In July 2002 I had a suspicious mammogram. By August

it was confirmed to be infiltrating ductal carcinoma. After

the lumpectomy, I agreed to undergo chemotherapy and

radiation. I knew that this would affect my body in many

ways. I expected the least of these to be the loss of my hair.

October 4-6, 2002

It began on Friday with the white hairs. They pulled out as

wisps when I ran my fingers along my temples. Soon the

darker hairs started to fall. By Saturday my scalp hurt, like it

did when I was a child with a too-tight ponytail. I had visions

of having round bald patches on my head. I feared my hair

would all drop out at once in public.

In the shower Saturday night my hair started to really fall out.

It clung to my body...I became Wolf Woman. This experience

was surprisingly disturbing. By Sunday my hair was as thin as

an old woman’s and my scalp tender and pink. I saved the

hair in a plastic bag and it looked like a soft mouse nest.

My son buzzed off my remaining hair and I sent it to my

daughter to embed in hand-made paper for me. I set my

view camera up and took these self-portraits every month.


Hair Loss

Hair Loss is a leather-bound accordion book with slip case. The pages were printed on acid free paper and the end sheets contain Nettles’ hair embedded in handmade abaca paper made by her daughter. 4x5” when closed and 4 x 68” when opened and standing free. Created in an edition of four signed and numbered copies. Copies are in the collections of the Beinecke Library at Yale, University of Central Florida, the University of Illinois and the University of Washington’s Special Collections Library.