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I'm going bald and it's hurting me at work

re. bintoro/

The question After my last pregnancy, my hair thinned so much I have a noticeable bare spot. I need to look good for my PR job, but I'm afraid of becoming a laughingstock if I resort to hats or wigs. Any ideas? —Lindsay M., Toronto

The answer

Baldness isn't funny, particularly for women. What is funny, however, is the all-too-human desire to cover it up, so I understand your reluctance to use artificial devices. Sadly, the pressure to keep up appearances in a field like yours can be brutal. Having a permanent bad hair day can kill your confidence, especially if you're surrounded by young things flaunting their luxuriant tresses. And that's just the guys.

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My stylist says he regularly sees women of all ages with thinning hair. Hormonal changes, stress, genetics or simply aging can be to blame, as well as too-tight ponytails, hair extensions or abuse with a hot curling or straightening iron. Moulting can also be a symptom of illness, so check that there's no underlying medical condition. This expert's strategy is a short cut with layers around the crown to help give the appearance of fullness. Colouring your hair a bit lighter softens the look and thickens the hair shaft as well. Avoid the comb-over and, worse, the Trump comb-forward. The lightest breeze can expose both your scalp and your naiveté. There are always those male faves — toupées and/or plugs (à la Bono, Travolta and Elton John, in ascending order of desperation) — but a silk scarf is prettier.

The question My boyfriend and I have just tied the knot, and his company has asked him to relocate to a small town for 12 months. I don't want to leave my teaching job and lose seniority, but we're afraid that if he turns it down, his career will suffer. What should I do? —Ashley T., Calgary

The answer

If I had to choose between staying at home Swiffering the floors for a husband I love or sleeping alone, I'd pick my man. That said, I'm a feminist, and I'd expect your husband to make a similar choice if it was your opportunity. If either of you comes to see the other as a barrier to success, resentment can fester until it explodes. The last thing you want is your husband channelling Marlon Brando: "I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody!"

If you agree to leave your job and move with him, settle on the terms beforehand. If you're unhappy, will he move back when the year is up? Keep the discussion open throughout the year. Beyond Swiffering, you could get another job, start your own business, upgrade your education, volunteer, or — and I expect to get feedback about this — have a baby.

Of course, there are options if you decide to stay put. Commuting between cities is one, if his company is willing to subsidize expenses for either you or your husband. Or if he can negotiate a flexible work schedule, the two of you can always fall back on extended weekends. Long-distance love can be lonely, but there are ways to keep the heat in your relationship. The iPad offers intimate possibilities, and one couple I know who live separately enjoy candlelit dinners via Skype.

A year apart is workable, but don't push it. At the end of the day (literally), being married to the job is cold comfort.

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