There was always something very special when it came to getting my hair done. As a little girl I wasn’t fond of the comb being tussled through my coils but the parts, zig zags and the bright clips and ribbons that were added as the finishing touch to my new do made me smile from ear to ear. The rubbing of hair oils into my scalp and watching how my mom folded each strand over one another to create the perfect bantu knot or braid made me feel beautiful and it created this invisible bond that reassured me I had all her attention. “Your hair is growing” I remember she used to say…until one day her tone began to change. It was now one of concern and helplessness as she didn’t have the answers to my now thinning hair. The thickness started to become sparse and my freedom and self-worth I portrayed through my hairstyles vanished leaving not only scarring on my scalp but scarring over my heart.
Unlike my heritage that is consumed by so much history, little is known about my hair loss. It came like a thief in the night and it robbed me of my identity and ushered away the women I had grown to love.
Learning to place one foot in front of the other as someone I no longer recognized was a road I did not want to be on. You see, within the black culture our hair is a powerful statement. It turns heads and makes the eyes of others curious, our tresses are intertwined in history of endurance, creativity and boldness. No strand is the same from sister to sister or brother to brother making us as unique as our individual style. Our locks are societal representations portrayed in the media through song, dance and art. We have thrived through our entrepreneurial spirits and networking skills as we have created businesses and communal support within the beauty industry. But how does a bald girl like me fit in?…where is my representation and where does my value lie in a world that portrays attraction through a specific lens?
I have been hiding behind a mask of doubt, self-hate and uncertainty for over 20 years. I had to learn that my allure is not defined by strands of locks, but is defined by the self-love I choose to cloak myself in. I never lost the bond I had with my hair; I developed a new way to bond with the hair I no longer have. Having alopecia can be a devastating experience no matter your race, creed, religion or gender as alopecia does not discriminate. Understanding how to embrace my patches and scanty hair has been no easy task. Like with all things it takes time and patience. You will have good days and bad days, but bravery is a choice not an option that I encourage you to embrace because YOU are not defined by your hair. Your hair loss has unmasked a hidden gem, a new armor of courage, perseverance and influence.
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