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Towie star Sam Faiers can't stop pulling her eyelashes out
4:20pm Tuesday 8th October 2013 in News
SAM Faiers exudes confidence and glamour when she’s on screen starring in the Only Way Is Essex, but in private, she’s battling a distressing problem.
She suffers from trichotillomania (TTM, or “tric” for short), a condition which causes people to compulsively pull out their own hair. For some sufferers, it can lead to significant hair loss and bald patches. In Faiers’ case, it’s her eyelashes she targets.
There’s no apparent sign that anything is wrong when you meet the vivacious blonde, whose large green eyes are framed by thick, dark lashes.
“They’re false,” admits the 22-year-old. “I have towear two sets to disguise the fact that I have barely any lashes.”
The reality TV star recently supported International No Pulling Week, which ran from September 23-29, which was started by hair loss expert Lucinda Ellery to encourage sufferers to seek help (www.nopulling.org).
It’s estimated that around 840,000women in the UK suffer from TTM, with 80 per cent pulling hair, 47 percentpulling eyelashes, and 44 per cent pulling eyebrows. The real figure is probably much higher, as a lot of people keep their hair-pulling a secret, andless than 10 per cent seek treatment.
“I’ve been tugging my eyelashes out since I was about seven years old,” says Faiers. “It started after my stepsister told me you could pick out a lash, make a wish and it would come true.
“It seems silly now, but I was only little andI just acceptedit as true. It really became a habit a couple of years later when my dad went to prison for eight years. In my head, I thought thatIcould wish him home.”
TTM is a psychological condition and the majority of those who suffer use it as a coping mechanism for anxiety and other difficult emotions.
Around 50 per cent say that it’s worse when they’re stressed.
Faiers has been in Towie since the series began in October 2010 and is one of its bestknown stars. With her older sister, Billie, 23, she’s co-owner of Minnie’s Boutique.
She says: “As I’ve got older, I’ve become more and more aware of having this problem. I’ve kept thinking, ‘What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I stop?’ Like any girl, I want to look good and anything that affects your appearance is horrible, particularly when you know you’re actually causing the damage yourself.
“I even tried hypnotherapy, but that only made me stop for a while and, as my eyelashes grew, gradually the urge to pull them crept back.”
Lucinda Ellery describes TTM as something that’s used for “self-calming”, and points out that many sufferers are often unaware at the time that they’re “pulling”.
“So many young women are affected by TTM, but no one talks about it. By showing how common it is, together with Sam’s courage in speaking out, we can reach so many women who are suffering in silence,”says Ellery who, following her own experience of alopecia, has helped hundreds of others affected by hair loss.
It’s only in the last few months that Faiers has, through targeted psychotherapy, been able to begin recovering from TTM.
“The specialists I’ve gone to have gone right back through my life to find out the ups and downs I’ve experienced, and show me how this developed,” she says.
“I’m now aware that, for me, it’saform of self-harm, and also I can see there is no reason for me to continue.I haven’t done anything wrong, so I don’t deserve to hurt myself.
It’s wonderful to see my eyelashes growing back slowly.”
Faiers is completely positive about being part of the hugely successful Towie series. “Me and Billie have been on Towie for three years and, of course, there’s been ups and downs.
“Occasionally there are times when you haveastrop and say you don’t want to do it any more, but you don’t really mean it, and every one downfall is offset by 100 great times.”
Although she hasn’t been lucky in love – she recently split from her co-star and fiance, Joey Essex, and previously dated another cast member, Mark Wright – she still hopes for a happy-ever-after ending.
“I always wanted a young marriage and a family and I see that as part of my dream for the next 10 years,” she says.
For more information and support about trichotillomania, and to find out about Lucinda Ellery’s studios and revolutionary interlace system, visit www.lucindaelleryhairloss.co.uk
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