Alopecia and Self Love: 3 Tips For Feeling Your Best
Will Smith’s outburst at the 2022 Oscars has been the subject of many conversations lately. We know that Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, and that her husband responded negatively to that joke. However, the condition behind Jada’s haircut, as well as the potential sensitivities the joke may have triggered for not only her but thousands of other women, has been less discussed.
Jada Pinkett Smith did not shave her head by choice. Additionally, the actress has been quite open about her health condition over the past few years. Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia areata, or alopecia for short. An autoimmune disorder, which causes gradual, increasing hair loss. Typically, the hair loss will begin in circular patches, which will increase in size over time. Eventually, these patches will overlap, causing near-total or total baldness.
Although much remains unknown about alopecia, we know that it causes the body to attack the hair follicles. Oftentimes, “attacks” of the condition are caused by extreme stress. The problem is, it’s difficult to avoid stress when you’re suffering from alopecia. Alopecia may not cause severe health problems, but for women in particular it can be hard to reconcile with. As women, we’re raised to value our hair and associate a lot of our self worth with our hair. While you’re far more than your hair, it’s understandable if you feel insecure when suffering from alopecia or other conditions that cause hair loss.
How can you love yourself while suffering from hair loss? Let’s look into a few strategies below.
Embrace Your Hair Loss
You may want to take on the strategy that Jada Pinkett Smith herself seems to have embraced. Rather than avoiding the conversation surrounding her hair loss, she’s now boldly showing off her bald head. While some sufferers of alopecia eventually lose all of their hair naturally, others cut the process short by shaving their heads early. Though it may not be common for women to work the bald look (at least in the United States) anyone can pull it off with the right amount of confidence. This is a bold change, to be sure—don’t embark on it until you’re absolutely sure that you’re ready.
If you aren’t certain about rocking a shaved head, you may want to consider trying a wig or hair system. Even if you have experienced total hair loss due to alopecia, a wig is a valid option to consider. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation actually offers an Alopecia Areata Marketplace on its website, where you can shop for various hair replacement options. Not only are wigs available for your head—false eyelashes can be worn to compensate for hair loss surrounding your eyes. Any wigs purchases should be high quality and ethically sourced to avoid a subpar look or skin irritation. However, if you want to maintain the appearance that you have hair, consider wigs. Just because you’re wearing a wig doesn’t mean you aren’t celebrating self love while living with alopecia!
Consider Hats and Headscarves
Maybe you’re not quite ready to go bald, but also want to boldly embrace your look post-alopecia. A great compromise is wearing hats and headscarves. Many women with alopecia wear hats and headscarves as a nod to self love while living with alopecia. With this option, you’re acknowledging your hair loss without calling attention to it.
No matter what, you practice self love while living with alopecia. Though the diagnosis can be daunting, don’t let yourself think that you are any less worthy of love because of it. You can embrace your alopecia at your own pace, and work towards not only self acceptance, but self love.