How to embrace your alopecia with grace and good humor
The impact of an alopecia areata diagnosis is both immediate and incremental.
We’re not going to lie: losing your hair is a big deal.
That’s why learning to navigate the external world is critical to living life fully.
Sadly, some folks will still stare or make rude comments to us. But society as a whole is more accepting. Body shaming is, thankfully, becoming a rarity. People—especially youth—more readily embrace physical differences. And many people are so self-involved that they won’t even notice you.
The Only Way Out is Through
Acceptance is not a strictly linear process. And there isn’t a timetable; everyone is different. But to gain real and lasting self-acceptance, most of us have grappled with the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance. If you allow yourself the full range of experiences and share how you’re feeling, you’ll be in a better place.
Don’t Judge Our Choices
Friends and family may be well-meaning, but too often questions sound like judgments. We might want to share our condition…or keep it private. We might want to wear a wig…or rock a bald head. And what we want to do can change…sometimes daily. Support is so much less hurtful than a series of suggestions that we hear as criticisms. Let us talk it out our own way.
Your Doctor Is Your Partner
A supportive physician is a powerful ally on your alopecia journey. They will be up-to-date on treatments. Your doctor will also have a network of referrals to share. The more candor you muster, the better advocate you’ll have.
Finding an online community can counter the isolation many of us feel. Your new tribe is an invaluable, ongoing resource of what to expect, what works and what doesn’t. They also offer a safe sounding board for when you need to vent. And they’ll cheer your triumphs like no others can.
Show Your Creativity
Alopecia Style™ is limitless and runs the gamut from classic to cutting-edge, feminine to fierce. You can camouflage your hair loss with blinged-out ball caps or patterned soft scarves. Or shave your head and get inked with a show-stopping tattoo. You can find a custom milliner to design a fabulous fedora. Share your discoveries with sister alopecians. Alopecia style is all about showing the world how uniquely beautiful you are.
Makeup Artist As Bestie
Women with alopecia often rethink their grooming regime. Getting a private lesson on how to play up your eyes or do a dramatic lip can be a real boost to your self-esteem. Learning effective brow techniques is critical to building our new look. Ask for recommendations; professionals who work in film, magazines and TV are obvious go-to’s. Esthetician schools are another great place to locate talent. The artist wants to help you. Be open with them and remember that it’s perfectly ok to shed a tear.
Get Outta Town
Want to experiment with your look but don’t want to unexpectedly run into family, friends or colleagues? Your appearance and how you feel about it is another way to “talk” about alopecia. Why not try going bald on a vacation? (don’t forget the sunscreen!) Or wear a wig on your next business trip? If you like it, great! You can unveil your new style at home with confidence. If you don’t, no one’s the wiser.
Do Good, Be Happy
Research has proven that volunteer activity spikes serotonin, the feel-good chemical your body naturally produces to elevate mood and reduce anxiety. Pick up trash on a trail. Work in an animal shelter. Mentor a teen. Whatever you do, you’ll be outside your own orbit and you’ll see the world in a new light. It’s another opportunity to have a quick and casual chat about alopecia with new friends.