Owning Alopecia

“Bald is beautiful!” Or so a homeless man shouted at me outside a storefront the other day. A kind sentiment, truly. But one I’m only starting to believe after almost three years of losing my previously Tresemmé-worthy tresses.

I had alopecia areata as a child. When I was four years old, the autoimmune disease caused me to lose patches of hair behind my ears. It grew back within a year and didn’t resurface until the very first day of 2021 when I found a completely bald, dime-sized patch on top of my head. I panicked—not recommended for a disease largely attributed to stress— but none of my desperate treatment attempts seemed to help.

A year after onset, the alopecia had progressed to the point that I asked my husband to shave my head. It was his 30th birthday. Romantic, right? What I’d hoped would be a cathartic experience turned into a month-long slump of crying over my lost locks and identity. Where was my inner Demi Moore? I definitely didn’t feel like G.I. Jane. It turns out, self-acceptance takes time.

The Bald & The Beautiful

While I fought to maintain normalcy on the outside – wigs, creative hairstyles, hats, head scarves I’m not trendy enough to pull off – I didn’t recognize myself. I felt less feminine. Less secure. Less attractive. Less… me. And I was disappointed in myself for letting it affect me so much.

These things I knew to be simultaneously true: It’s cosmetic, not catastrophic. Not chemo, as most people assume. It could be worse, but it’s still hard. And I don’t want to be the wife, the mom, or the woman who lives less fully because of some unruly follicles.

So in May of 2022, I stood in the middle of Times Square, nervous, sweaty, and 26 weeks pregnant, and I ripped off my wig. Stuffing it into my purse, I committed to a fake-it-til-you-make-it approach to confidence, and I haven’t looked back.

As with most things in life, there are bright sides. I can get ready in a flash and I never have a bad hair day. My kids have a blast sticking toys to my head and they are learning to accept other people’s differences with grace. Yes, I get stared at. (A lot). But it starts conversations and makes people feel more comfortable sharing their own grief. I thank God for these things.

September is Alopecia Areata Awareness Month, and it’s exactly the push I needed to start sharing my story here, on social media, and to the strangers who ask. I realize that my story is one of millions and each is unique. How each person chooses to treat, reveal, and own their journey is deeply personal and always, absolutely okay.

Heavenly Hair Solutions

For many, wigs are a God-sent solution. My friend Tracy Tadlock has helped countless women find confidence in the midst of hair loss through Heavenly Hair Solutions. After struggling with a form of alopecia – alopecia genetica – Tracy experimented with toppers until she found a look that felt like, well, her.

Understanding the magnitude of the impact alternative hair solutions can have on women, Tracy opened shop in Edmond. Women travel across the metro and country for high-quality pieces, cut, colored, and customized for them.

“I love helping women feel more confident about themselves, just like toppers did for me,” Tracy said. “It gave me confidence to face the wind, weddings, and whatever life brings. This isn’t a job, it’s a ministry to me.”

Explore Tracy’s collection of confidence-building options on Facebook @HeavenlyHairSolutions.

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