Alopecia Support

National Hair Loss Awareness Month

August is National Hair Loss Awareness Month.  Having gone through hair loss myself, I thought it was important to stop for a moment and reflect on how hair loss can really affect one's life.  I know alopecia is not life threatening but going through life without hair can damage a person's self-worth, especially when it comes to children. I read an article today about a young girl who had plastic surgery because she was bullied and taunted at her school because of ears.  Kids tormented her to the point that she had physical pain at the thought of going to school.  We live in such an appearance-driven society that having any physical abnormality can make you feel like you are walking around with a spotlight on you.  So today, after reading that article, I got to thinking about kids who have alopecia and have to go to school and face the questions, the stares, and the teasing; let's face it, kids can be really mean.  So in thinking about those kids, I just wanted to share a few of the resources I found when I lost all of my hair.

Two great books for people who are going through hair loss are The Girl With No Hair and If Your Hair Falls Out, Keep Dancing!  The Girl With No Hair is a children's book chronicling a young girl's diagnosis with alopecia to learning how to cope and be accepted socially with this condition.  And it's written from the point-of-view of the girl as a grown woman.  Perfect for a child who just started losing their hair.

If Hair Falls Out, Keep Dancing! is written by LeaslieAnn Butler, a woman who went through alopecia, lost all of her hair, and found her confidence again.  She offers amazing beauty and style tips, covering up spots, buying wigs, and even medical advice from her own experiences.  This book is perfect for teen girls and young women who are suffering through hair loss, whether it be from alopecia, chemotherapy, or some other cause.  She was my lifesaver when I first lost all of my hair.

Wigs for Kids is also a great resource if you are a family who needs a wig for a child but can not afford it (wigs are expensive!).  I really like this organization as they do not ask the family to pay anything for the wig; it is all done through charity.  And you can donate by donating hair (I believe you need to give 10 inches) or by sponsoring a child who can not afford a wig.

This is a pamphlet I found on how to help kids deal with the inevitable questions and stares that come up when they first lose their hair.  If you are a parent whose child is going through hair loss, this is not only something that you should show to your child but with your child's teacher as they need to know what is going with other students.  I personally found this helpful as an adult, as well, because, let's face it, adults can be rude, too.  I actually had an adult come up to me and check to see if I was wearing a wig, without asking.  I felt like saying to him, next time you look fat, I'll grab your stomach to make sure that you really are!  But, I didn't say that.

If you have any resources for people going through hair loss, share them in the comments section.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Little Bit of Inspiration....

I admit it, I am a huge Olympics groupie! I watch as many events as I possibly can from the swimming, track and field (my favorite), diving, gymnastics, water polo, and even the synchronized swimming (I honestly think it is really cool to watch).  It's not just the sporting events that pull me in; I love the opening and closing ceremonies, the medal ceremonies (I often cry), and especially the behind the scenes stories of the athletes.  So it comes as no surprise that I was extremely touched by the story of one of the cyclists.  When I was checking on the latest news in the alopecia world, I came across the story of Joanna Roswell,  a member of Britain's Olympic cycling team and a favorite to win gold.  She also has alopecia and has been losing hair since the age of 10.  At the age of only 23, she was able to get up in front of the world and accept medals with her teammates with no wig on.

This story inspired me for many reasons.  I was only a couple of years younger when all of my hair fell out and there were times I had a hard time leaving the house with my wig on, let alone stand in front of the whole world with no wig.  I would be in constant fear of whether or not people could tell I was wearing wig, if people would ask me about it, or, worse, if they would comment behind my back about it.  In many ways, I gave my early 20's to alopecia. I lost my confidence and a lot of my self-worth.

So, when I read Joanna's story, I was immediately inspired. She was the type of woman I wished I could have been and the inspiration to others I wanted to be but never had the strength.  She did more than just not wear her wig; she reminded all people dealing with hair loss that there is so much more to us than just a head of hair and there is life beyond our alopecia.  And I can say pretty confidently that her alopecia was not defining her up on that podium.  So I would like take the opportunity to say to Joanna and all of the other women out there who are brave enough to go wig-less, you go girls!  I will try and remember to wear my bald spots with a little more pride. :)

If you want to read more about Joanna, click here.

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