Friends, I’d like to introduce you to Lady Alopecia! I am so honored to have her take over my blog today with this AMAZING post! It won’t take long for you to figure out exactly why I am BEYOND excited to have this funny, inspiring, glitter fueled, radiant spirit guest post on my page. Lady Alopecia, your confidence and light shine through in the words you share. Thank you for being a part of my blog, and most importantly thank you for being such a wonderful and supportive baldie friend! xoxoxo
When I was growing up, my hair was a big deal. Strangers would ruffle it. Relatives would ask where the hell it had come from (cue the milkman jokes) and I’d often get stopped in the street for some randomer to tell me how unusual it was. How lucky I was to have such beautiful auburn curls.
Unsurprisingly, I grew pretty attached to my hair.
So when it decided to detach itself from me, the person who’d given it a home for 10 years, it felt like a big ol’ slap in the face.
Being a teenager with alopecia was tough. I was in boarding school and… well… bitches aren’t always cute dogs, right?! I got very good at shrinking, at hiding, at making myself invisible. I was pretty tall but managed to fold in on myself most of the time.
Still, at least the patches weren’t too bad back then. I had them under control.
But later, in my mid-20s, the patches grew bigger and bigger. Taunting me – the more I’d try to hide them, the more they’d reveal themselves.
After a few years of wig wearing, I decided that I was sick of hiding my alopecia, of feeling like I was hiding my true self, too. So I did what any rebellious soul would do – I made a statement. I told alopecia to f**k right off and stop controlling my life. And I pulled a Britney and shaved my head.
I thought I’d feel strong, liberated and fierce afterwards.
But instead I felt weak. And scared. And very very bumpy-headed.
As kids we used to have a “board race” during our school’s Sports Day. Basically, you’d have to balance a board, about the size and weight of a hardback novel, on your head and walk as fast as you could to the finish line. Like if America’s Next Top Model did relay races – only the straight-backed, flat-headed stood a chance.
Anyway, as I clapped eyes on my shiny new bald look, I realised why I’d never made it more than a few steps with that damned board! Because a bump the size of an egg rose out of my already egg-shaped head. I was like a novelty Easter egg. What had I done?!
Still, I’d made the decision to stop wearing wigs and I was sticking to it. And so I began rocking my bald head out, free from wigs or headscarves, for the first time in 8 long years.
Embracing the bald was a big risk, sure – but it definitely paid off. The support I received was phenomenal and I began feeling more comfortable in myself than I’d ever been, even with a full head of hair.
One of the best moments was returning to choir. A community choir that sang soul music (and wore a lot of sequins!), made up of women and men from all walks of life. When I joined the previous year, I knew I’d found my tribe and Wednesday evening rehearsals were the highlight of my week. After all, how can you feel down when blasting out Try a Little Tenderness with some of the warmest, most inspirational people you’ve ever met?
They’d only known me with my wigs and headscarves so I was nervous going back into that room. But the flurry of hugs and the amazing words I received lifted me right up. I laughed and joked about my baldiness and for the first time, I learned to speak openly about my alopecia without welling up.
Over the next few weeks, I got so used to my new look that I forgot all about it at times! Until I’d glimpse a pale beach ball bobbing past a shop window and I’d realise it was just my reflection. Oh well.
The funny thing was, once I’d accepted my alopecia, my hair grew back!
Tentatively, a downy fuzz spread across my scalp. Within a few weeks, I was less of a Mr Potato Head, more of a Donald Duck. Until eventually I had a head full of the short stuff…
… For a grand total of 2 months. Then a sneaky patch popped up on the back of my head. Which spread…and spread…and you can guess the rest. This time, I took control early on. I went to the hairdresser, asked her to shave my remaining hair into a mohawk style and embraced my new look.
And you know what? I’m pretty happy with how it all turned out! Because I’ve finally found my own voice, my own style, instead of trying on others’ for size.
I’ve always been partial to a bit of glitter – even more so when I joined that choir. But shaving my head gave me permission to stop playing safe and to start afresh. To use my bald head as a blank canvas for all kinds of colourful creations.
Nowadays, I decorate my mohawk with flowers, feathers, fairy lights… you name it, I’ve tried it. My friends even know me as The Glitter Fairy. And I carry a vial of the shiny stuff in my bag at all times. Just in case. 😉
Festivals are my favourite things on earth. I used to go to them with flowery headbands, or a colourful wig if I was feeling particularly cray-cray. And now? I spend the entire 3 days in a range of elaborate costumes – homemade wigs, sequinned wings, elaborate fake eyelashes made for drag queens but claimed by me… let’s just say, I’m no longer trying to hide!
The thing is, I’ve spent so much of my life trying to blend in. But now that I’ve accepted my alopecia, even learned to love it in some ways, I’m happy to stand out.
Sure, there are days when I get sick of the attention.
Like when I’m sweating like crazy, cycling in 100° heat and an entire cafe of Vietnamese people turns to point and laugh at my shiny head (mohawks don’t stand too proudly in the heat). Just like there are times when I’d give anything to complain about a bad hair day.
But having alopecia has led to so many positive experiences. And it’s made me braver in every sense. Not just dealing with this shitty condition and with all it entails – but being able to put myself out there, to not worry what people think and to express myself in whatever way I choose. Sometimes the experiment pays off; other times I look less like Furiosa and more like Sideshow Bob. But that’s all part of the adventure, right?!
After all, the Björks and the Grace Joneses of this world don’t shy away from the limelight. Or from their wonderful weirdness, their need to embrace and display the strange. They’re the people who inspire me to connect with my inner diva. And to help others embark on their own shiny, glitter-filled journey.
That’s why, bald and bold, hairfree and carefree… I’m proud to be Lady Alopecia.
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