Alopecia can be challenging for any person, but it’s especially difficult for women in a world where hair is often considered a measure of femininity and self-worth — your “crowning glory.” And even though 147 million people worldwide have the condition (which occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your hair follicles), there isn’t much alopecia visibility out there. As a result, getting a diagnosis can be devastating and alienating. “My hair was me, my identity, my femininity,” Amy-Rose Lynch, a 25-year-old art director in advertising recounts. “I thought I lost myself when I lost my hair.”
We talked to six women about the reality of alopecia and how it’s shaped their beauty routines, emotional well-being, relationships, and work experiences. Some have had it since childhood or their teen years. For others, it’s a new life change they’re still adjusting to. They all speak to the frustrations as well as the unexpected gifts of being a bald woman in the world.
Lauren Marcus, 32
Occupation: actress and singer/songwriter
First lost her hair: Earlier this year
This is really new to me. It’s still only been two or three months that I haven’t had my hair. It happened about two days before I was opening a show, so I was in shock. As an adult, it’s scary, because the first thing that happens is you think something is wrong with you, that you’re sick.
I have days when I get really angry, like I went to see a show the other night, and I sat in the audience and I looked around, like, “Are you fucking kidding me? I’m the only person in the theatre who doesn’t have hair?” Every day is different. I have bad days, not gonna lie, and days when I see myself in the mirror and I think, “you look kinda cool.” When you go into playing a character, you’re taking on a different persona but, as an actor, I like to make connections between the character and myself and use what I know about myself, and that’s all changed — everything from how I look to how I interact with people to what people say to me on the street. It’s affected every aspect of my life in ways I hadn’t imagined...