“On February 5th, 2021, I decided to share the most vulnerable piece of information about myself at the time: my alopecia. I remember the day vividly. I was sitting on my couch, post at the ready, with my fiancé at my side and my mom on speaker. I had a hard time talking because I was shaking and crying. I kept asking, ‘What if people judge me or think less of me? What if people are rude or talk bad about my alopecia behind my back?’ But I did it. After many thoughts of ‘Is this the right decision?’ I pushed the post button. In seconds I felt relief and said, ‘Oh my god. People now know I’m balding.’
Diagnosis and Fear
When I first got diagnosed with alopecia in my early 20s, my depression was atrocious. I was hyper-focused on my hair. I thought losing hair made me less of a woman, and my self-confidence plummeted as I started to lose more and more hair. I stayed home a lot. I tried to get out of any plans my family or friends invited me to because it took me way too long to find a hairstyle that would work. For years, it felt like a shadow was suppressing and covering who I truly was. My head was filled with constant criticisms about my looks. I walked around feeling like everyone could see this dark shadow on top of my head.
When I got my first professional job, I had to wake up hours before I hit the road so I could do my hair in a style that wouldn’t make me worry—but of course, I still did anyway. I hated fluorescent light because I thought you could see right through my hair. I hated summer because I wore baseball hats all the time and people started to notice. I was so down on myself, so afraid to accept my reality. Showers were my enemy. In fact, anything to do with water was my enemy. I was scared about people pulling my hat off ‘as a joke,’ because they had no idea what was going on with my hair. I worried about every little thing that could expose my worst fear. This depression and anxiety socially restricted me from being my true, beautiful, and outgoing self.
Another one of my biggest fears was finding the courage to tell my boyfriend at the time about my hair loss. It took me 8 months to finally fill him in and let him know about my biggest insecurity. I was scared that he wouldn’t want to continue to be with someone with hair loss. When I finally built up the courage to tell him, he hugged me and told me I was just as beautiful as the day he first met me. He has helped me realize how beautiful I truly am. He has been my constant number one supporter.
Fast forward to going public! This was hands down the best decision I’ve made in regards to my journey. It made me embrace who I am. I decided to turn my Instagram into my public diary where I didn’t hold back. I went out in public without a wig on for the first time, worked out with just a baseball cap, took pictures of myself without any hair on, and am a co-host for a hair loss podcast! I wanted to create a space where people didn’t feel alone. If I could help one person, it was all worth it to me.
Although, as much good that came with my acceptance and being public with my hair loss, there came a lot of bad as well. I regressed, many times. Hair loss was also publicly mocked on national television, and we lost one of our own to suicide. Her name was Rio, and she was 12 years old. She decided to end her life because she was being bullied for something she couldn’t control. (@riosrainboworg or riosrainbow.org).
I used to swear my alopecia to hell on my really bad days. I’ve also gotten hate from people in and out of the hair loss community. But I persisted. I kept putting myself and my feelings out there, and I’m damn proud of it. That being said, the hair loss community truly did come out swinging. Supporting me every step of the way and constantly uplifting and inspiring each other. It’s pretty incredible. I have gained friendships and people who understand me completely, which I was in search of for a very long time. (@Baldtourage support group).
For the last two months, it’s been pretty rough for the hair loss community. But what you need to understand is that we’re extremely strong individuals. We get right back up and continue to fight for hair loss to be normalized and always will.
Being a co-host of an alopecia podcast called @thosebaldchicks is a way I can help spread more awareness. We decided to start this podcast to discuss how we navigate life without hair. Relationships, personal testimonies, guests, best wigs and wig products, basically Alopecia/hair loss, and everything else! It’s been incredible and heartwarming to see how much we have transformed since we started. A hair loss podcast was needed for people to relate to! Not everyone is ready to reach out and talk about it or go public with their alopecia, so our podcast is a way to relate to the hair loss community and to show people they’re not alone!
My advice to any and all alopecians out there is to take your time! Don’t let anyone else tell you how to manage your alopecia. No one knows what’s best for you, except YOU. You have an entire community ready to support and lift you up when you’re ready!
My advice for everyone else is to celebrate everyone’s differences. Stop mocking them and instead educate yourself and be a kind human. What you might say or do to someone and never think about again, could be the comment or thing they hold onto for the rest of their lives.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Paige Roberts, Metro Detroit, MI. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her podcast. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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