When we talk about our hair journey, much of it is trial and error, experimentation, trips to the salon, good and bad days, and, hopefully, a destination of self-acceptance. But for people with alopecia, this journey can feel like it leads straight off a cliff.
Alopecia is a broad medical term describing hair loss, and there are different kinds. It can include temporary hair loss from stress, pregnancy-related hair loss, traction or trauma related hair loss, chemotherapy or lupus-related hair loss, sever scarring or loss of hair in patches without scarring. That’s why as soon as you’re experiencing hair loss, you should see a dermatologist who can diagnose your condition early on and help with a treatment plan. Self-care and self-treatment are great for care and upkeep but when it comes to medical hair loss, seeing the appropriate health care professional is a better route to go.
That being said, the hair journey will sometimes end with total hair loss. Not to in any way minimize the experiences of amputees, but total and permanent loss of hair has been compared to losing a limb. That can often mean working through trauma and carving out a new way of looking at one’s body.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who has earned a national profile as an advocate for democracy and transparency in government–and is known for her signature style of beautiful Senegalese twists–recently revealed her alopecia journey. She has come into the spotlight with a new look, one that is bald and beautiful.
Ricki Lake, whose role and the musical “Hairspray” and her famous, decade-long talk show made her a favorite in the 90s, also recently shared her decades-long struggle with hair loss.
Ironically, the loss of hair shows the full beauty of the face and head, and reveals the beauty within.
Mattel has recently come out with line of Barbie dolls with body diversity, and that includes a doll with alopecia. What a great message to send to girls, that we are beautiful with and without hair, and that someone cared enough to produce a doll that symbolizes that beauty.
And just because someone comes forward with their alopecia story and their big reveal, doen’t mean they’re not still getting used to their new reality. That’s why it’s important to listen and be supportive.
We should all keep in mind that while the alopecia journey is difficult, it can have a happy ending because the journey to self-acceptance has many paths.