Updated: Apr 27, 2020
For this month's blog, I hope to share my perspective on self-love through my journey with alopecia.
I was first diagnosed with alopecia around my sophomore year in high school. My mom had been styling my hair when she spotted a quarter size bald patch on my scalp. Meeting with a dermatologist confirmed that I had alopecia which is an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, 6.8 million people are living in the U.S. with Alopecia.
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My alopecia responded well to steroid injections and topical ointments. The medication worked so well that for years my autoimmune disease was dormant and I enjoyed voluminous hair growth. Things suddenly changed after I became pregnant with my daughter in 2015. While pregnant I declined hair loss treatment to reduce the risk of passing steroids or medication into my daughter's bloodstream. After my daughter was born, I breastfed and continued to forego hair loss treatment. By 2016, I had lost nearly 1/3 of my total hair. I managed to hide the bald spots with different hairstyles. I also started to wear wigs. Later that year, I underwent surgery to remove a 14 mm benign tumor along with my right ovary. My doctor also diagnosed me with endometriosis. My body was under a lot of stress and my hormones were out of balance. At this time I had lost nearly 3/4 of my hair and decided it was time to shave my head completely.
For a year or so I presented primarily as bald and would wear wigs on and off. When I covered my head I felt as though I was hiding my baldness. Wearing wigs gave me mixed emotions. I love myself as a baldie, I love myself in a wig, but I miss my own hair with all of my heart. It was mine for years, it grew with me, it knew me and it comforted me. It was my identity and my security all in one. Being bald was a strange new frontier. It was uncomfortable, thrilling and terrifying.
Today, living life as a baldie has led me to find a place of self-acceptance. I accept that I am bald and that I once had hair. It is okay to love my bald head, it is okay when I choose to wear wigs and it is okay to grieve for my hair loss. I can love myself physically as I am now and mourn my prior physical appearance. My baldness may be covered at times, but it does not mean it is hidden. That is why I am sharing my autoimmune disease on public platforms. It allows me to present myself to the world and to shed the sense of shame that can come with hair loss.
Last month congresswoman Ayanna Pressley announced to the public that she too has alopecia. She released a heartfelt video sharing her hair loss journey. Her story is powerful and relatable. Somewhere across the country, a little girl with hair loss saw our congresswoman stand before the world as she is and how she was made to be.
Self-love involves accepting yourself as you are in this very moment and knowing that you are enough. I am enough.
I never expected to be bald at 30, but here I am. I hope that my story encourages you to continue walking boldly in your self-love venture. It's your journey and I wish you the greatest of love as you walk in it.