Alopecia as a Fashion Statement

By Gemma

I know what you’re thinking, how can losing my hair (and in my case eyebrows and eyelashes) ever be considered a fashion statement? Young girls are constantly bombarded every day with pictures and videos of women with long flowing effortless-yet-this-actually-took-3hrs-and-20-products-to-do hair, and I could never imagine celebrities like Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez without their iconic hat-rack toppers. Having beautiful hair seems to be one of the biggest fashion accessories in Hollywood, and people without it tend to be looked down on. Hey, look how people talked about Britney Spears’ epic head shaving incident of 2007! Even men are told they must have perfect hair and growing up with my little brother; it seems they take longer than the girls to get their hair ready.

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So in a world where the ideal hair-do can be narrowed down to a handful styles, how does having no head hair compete with that? Well, at the risk of sounding cliché: 50% of the battle is deciding to not really give a damn any more. However, reaching that sense of freedom can take time and to be honest, is a complete emotional rollercoaster ride. I can safely say I went through the ordeal just as much as the next person, and as is the case in this technology-obsessed era; I have the selfies to prove it! Obviously the first step in the climb was to admit to myself that I was indeed losing my hair. That was hard, it sucked, and there were days I sat on the couch and cried with my mum. I soon realised that the situation called for headbands, scarves, and eventually wigs. When I first started I wasn’t very fashion forward with my head accessorising, and this was when I only had one bald-patch.

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When the second one formed I decided to name them Patch and Spot. Unexpected and unique names, I know. Once Spot reared his ugly head I knew that simple headbands weren’t going to cut it, so when my mum travelled overseas I asked her to buy me some pretty scarves. I watched video after video on Youtube and cancer support websites on the different ways to tie scarves, and I practiced and practiced in the privacy of my bedroom. After a while I started getting pretty good, and I learnt how to colour coordinate my scarf with my outfit, and most of the time my scarf added a little extra pizzazz to my day. I learnt to rock it.

A little later I decided to beat Alopecia to the punch and shave the rest of my hair off. This is around the time I started losing my eyebrows and eyelashes as well. This was another gut punch served by Alopecia in the battle, but my parents paid for a makeup lesson and I learnt how to draw them on and how to apply false eyelashes. When there was no hair left and drawing them on wasn’t really an option I found this fantastic website based in America which sold stick-on fake eyebrows. They were made of real human hair and were essentially wigs for my eyebrows – how cool is that? Of course I bought 2 pairs and wore them basically every single day. They stuck on with eyelash glue and after a couple of minutes I didn’t even feel that they were there. Coupled with my wigs, these few bits of hair glued to my face made me feel like no one was looking at me differently.

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Then the magical moment happened. When I was getting ready for my cousin’s engagement party I realised something – I was actually pretty lucky. Sure it sucked to lose my hair in the first place, but now that I had, I could essentially choose what I wanted to look like every single day. Blonde, brunette, intimidating and sexy biker chick – I had as many options as my imagination limited me to.

I stuck all the bits of hair to my face and donned my wig for the party; however I underestimated how hot the weather would be. It was too hot to wear my wig and after some internal panicking I decided to go without. The first time in months I was seen in public without anything completely covering my head, Patch and Spot were proudly on display and after some initial questions no one treated me any differently than anyone else at the party. I was amazed! Where was the pointing and laughing I had imagined? Where were the mean comments and rude remarks whispered behind my back? I could not believe it, I felt great and I actually had a completely incredible night.

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From then on I learnt to dress my skull up as little or as much as I wanted. I changed my look as often as I liked and I never once got a mean comment voiced within my earshot. I used my Alopecia as a fashion statement. Bald head and dark lipstick? You betcha! I was the shorter Australian version of Jessie J. I did it like it Ain’t Been Done because I embraced that Nobody’s Perfect and the world, well, It’s My Party. Jessie J references aside, I didn’t feel embarrassed to be headhair-less anymore; I used it to my advantage. As you can see from the extra pictures below, I can look like any way I like.

I completely understand that this article must sound like inspiration propaganda and that it can’t be true. I just want to show anyone who’s reading this that it is possible to feel good with Alopecia. Some days are going to feel dark and awful and you’ll sit on the couch and cry and eat a tub of ice cream, and that is completely ok. I did that more times than I can count. Do what you need to do to get through. One day it will feel easier and I promise you will reach the same place as me. Good luck!

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8 thoughts on “Alopecia as a Fashion Statement

Add yours

  1. Ditto Gemma, I kinda kept my eyebrows….. although patch and spot would have been perfect names for them….. I ended up with three or four different wigs…. but yes they do get soooo hot! After that initial battle, I too went hairless when I wanted, and even got compliments on the shape of my egg!

    Also agree with your comments about that awful realization….. my process was basically the same as yours…. i beat it at its own game and shaved my head too…… And yes….. some days you just sit and cry and say “why me” ….. and then there are the comments …”Oh you poor thing, did the chemo work…. What….. oh….. sorry…… um…….” I did get some looks that made me feel like an imposter, here I was “pretending to have cancer” when it wasn’t that bad at all…

    Anyway, similar stories aside, thank you for your inspiring insight into “a”…. I used to call it “A”….. but then decided that it wasn’t worth the capitalisation!!

    Your pics are beautiful, Again, thank you.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story. My journey has been similar and with my sons 21st party coming up I’m certainly struggling. You have given me some inspiration.

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    1. You are going to look amazing at your 21st no matter how you choose to look. Choose what makes you comfortable and then just ENJOY you night! That is the most important thing, and congratulations!

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  3. Hiya. Iv also got alopecia and had this for many years. I wrote a blog regarding my alopecia experience and iv moved forward helping charitys and more. Well done thank you.

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