fairestcat posting in agonyaunt
I have cranio-facial hyperhidrosis, which means that I sweat (a lot) from my scalp and face. It doesn’t take much — the slightest exertion, hot/humid weather, or wearing a hardhat — to trigger sweat pouring down my face and soaking my hair. It’s really unpleasant and embarrassing.
I work in a factory environment and split my time between the office and the factory floor, and when I work on the floor (where it’s always warm because of the machinery, especially in the summer), I usually end up sweaty. When I go back to the office, I do my best to cool off and dry my face and hair, and I often wrap a scarf around my head to absorb the sweat. For some reason, people think this makes me look like a ninja warrior. I’m not making this up — many people (mostly from outside my department) have said this on numerous occasions, and they seem to think it is a hilarious observation. I have lost count of how many people have asked me, “Haha, are you a ninja warrior?” or simply stated, “Oh, you’re wearing your ninja headband today.”
How do I even respond to this? I am really self-conscious about my hyperhidrosis, and the “ninja warrior” comments make me feel like people are mocking me. I don’t understand why so many people think it’s hilarious, and I don’t think they mean to be hurtful, but they are. Once when I was having a particularly bad day and someone asked me if I was a ninja warrior, I replied, “No, and I don’t appreciate being made fun of.” She apologized so profusely that I felt terrible for mentioning it and I ended up apologizing to her. How can I get people to stop making these comments without hurting their feelings?
I really don’t think people are mocking you — this sounds like the kind of joking comment that people make as a way to establish camaraderie or warm feelings, especially since they don’t know it’s linked to a medical condition.
That’s probably why your coworker apologized so profusely; when you told her you felt she was making fun of you, she was likely mortified that you thought that when she intended just to be friendly.
But none of that means that you can’t ask for it to stop! Start say this to people who joke about it: “I know you’re just joking, but it’s for a medical condition.” Say it without smiling and in a serious tone. Most people will stop after hearing that. For anyone who doesn’t, say this: “Like I said, it’s for a medical condition. I really don’t like calling it that.”