While in Brazil, I met a beautiful woman who had Alopecia.
Alopecia is a condition that causes a person to lose all body hair; it is found in 2% of the population. Alopecia can take many different forms including the partial or entire loss of hair.
Lolla, and three other ladies, shared with me their experiences – both physically and emotionally – in dealing with the rare condition. “Alopecia is not all bad! I do not have to buy shampoo and I do not have a bad hair day! Isn’t that the dream of every woman? Plus, who decided that women should have long hair anyway?”
We talked for hours and I was left impressed by their openness and brilliant sense of humour.
Interestingly in Maasai culture, a woman who shaves her head is considered the most beautiful. However in our ‘’tribe,’’ a woman is beautiful when she has long hair. This taboo causes alopecia to become more than a medical condition; evolving into a broader social stigma.
“Men and women who go through hair loss become socially isolated, which can result in covering themselves with wigs, essentially hiding. But they don’t have to hide if society accepts their beauty.”
The reactions in the street range from rude to ridiculous.
”People stare at you, kids point at you to their parents, and there are even those who will come to console you because they think you have cancer. ”
One of the things I was most moved by was when I asked if I people should donate their hair for wigs – something that was very common where I grew up – the response was surprising:
“If you want to do a good thing, go tell the girl who is dealing with alopecia that she is beautiful. Do not give her a wig to hide from herself.”
September is Alopecia awareness month, which serves as a great reminder that beauty stems from a lot more than what grows on our heads.
This piece was put together by Lior Sperandeo.