Alopecia is a hair loss condition that affects both men and women. There are 3 different types of Alopecia.,Alopecia Universalis, Alopecia Totalis and Androgenetic Alopecia. This condition is becoming increasingly common especially among black women ,mostly as a result of our hair practices…tight braids,chemicals aka relaxers ,etc . Here the beautiful Fatou Sarr shares her story about living with Alopecia. Fatou is Strong,Beautiful ,Intelligent,Confident etc… Read her story..
Growing up I was taught that women are supposed to have hair. A woman’s hair is her pride and glory – the epitome of femininity. And I believed that for the longest. I guess that is why it was so traumatic when my hair starting falling off, a tiny spot at a time. I was 19 when I first noticed a tiny spot, but i did not think much of it. I had long, thick braids when I noticed it and thought it was due to the heavy weight on my head. It wasn’t until the spot grew to a size of a grape that I started getting really worried.
I stopped the braiding and weaving and kept my hair natural in twists. During that time I went to doctors and dermatologists and was told that they did not know how to handle ‘black hair’. I was frustrated and angry at the same time, trying to explain that my hair was not the problem. I wanted them to treat my scalp, thinking that it was some kind of rash or eczema. I even saw a dermatologist in the US and was given a product that did not help at all. It didn’t get better with time, but worse, as the bald spot grew bigger. I started weaving again to cover the spot on my crown. In 2005 my mother talked to a lady that had the same bald spots as I do and she told my mother that she had something called Alopecia. I had never heard of this condition and had to do some research. I went to see another dermatologist to discuss my findings. Talk about relief! I hated that my hair was thinning, but at least I knew the cause, even though there was no cure.
Many people do not know, or have even heard of, Alopecia. It is an autoimmune skin disease that causes the immune system to mistakenly attack the hair follicles, which leads to hair loss on the head and elsewhere on the body. It usually starts with small, round patches on the scalp, and can progress to total loss of hair on the head (alopecia areata totalis) or complete loss of hair on the entire body (alopecia areata universalis). In my case it grew to a size of my palm and stayed that way. I continued to weave it up because I hated the idea of wigs.
When I relocated to the US in 2006, I started using wigs mainly because I had no one to do my weaves. Then I was introduced to a hair stylist who specialized in weaves for women with extensive hair loss. She is good, really good! She used me to model her work. I was just happy to get my hair done for free. At the end of our two year contract I told her that I was considering going bald and she was not supportive at all. According to her, a woman’s mane is her pride and glory. She went on to list all the negatives of being a bald woman, especially how it could cause my husband to find me less attractive. This could not be further from the truth because he was the one who encouraged me to do so.
I did the big chop in 2010. My hair was long and healthy around the bald spot and I have to admit that I was traumatized. To my surprise, I loved the bald look. It did take me months to get comfortable enough to walk around bald in public, mainly because I thought my face was too plump. I dropped some kilos and discovered my awesome cheekbones. I spent hours on Youtube trying to learn new ways to apply makeup in a way that would enhance my features. I love my bald head because I feel free, liberated and most of all, empowered. I truly feel India Arie when she sings ‘I am not my hair’. Society has conditioned us as women, especially Black women, to put so incredible emphasis on our hair. At the end of the day, IT. IS. JUST. HAIR. A tiny piece of the total package that is me. My husband thinks it is sexy as h*ll. I find myself strutting when I am out in public, beaming with new found confidence in myself and in my inner and outer beauty.
I have received some negative feedbacks though, all from women. My response? It is just hair. The criticism did not faze me one bit. I am still all that I was, if not a better me. Only now, I do not have to worry about my hair.
I had to share Fatou s story one more time on the blog to help pass the message to someone out there,who might be suffering from any type of Alopecia, it is time we look closely at our hair practices and determine what works and what doesn’t. A big thank you Fatou,girl you re such an inspiration. Stay beautiful