My name is Chloe, I’m 15 years old, and I have alopecia.
Alopecia is basically a fancy word for hair loss. It's an auto-immune disease where your immune system attacks your hair, thinking it’s a virus or foreign body. I’ve had alopecia for nearly a year, shaved my head too many times to count, lost my eyebrows and eyelashes numerous times, etc etc.
In this day and age, your hair is something that almost every girl (and boy) cherishes; it’s like a safety blanket to hide your insecurities and express your style. But when you lose your hair, that security is also stripped away. When my hair first fell out, I was in the middle of a class. My fingers brushed through the back of my head and a lump just came out. It was deeply concerning to see a piece of my security blanket balled up in my hands.
There are so many people who have alopecia; it’s 1 in a 100-1000 chance that someone has this condition. Yet, it rarely gets spoken about! I’ve never really had a problem with talking about my alopecia. I posted about my journey on social media the night I first shaved my head, which was in March during the first UK lockdown. I took my auto-immune disease by the reins, and shared my story. The replies I received were extraordinary and uplifting! Plus, by revealing my truth online, I saved myself the drama of curious friends and prying eyes when school returns.
However, vulnerability never comes without haters; I’ve learned first hand. I’ve gotten some pretty awful stares, and thoughtless comments such as “Do you have cancer?” or “Omg, how long did the doctor give you to live?”. You get the idea. Despite these obstacles, the alopecia community has really been there for me. While I do have my best friend to lean on during really difficult days, I don’t think it’s right to use her for unending emotional support, even though I know she’s always there for me. That’s why I need people who are going through the same experience as I am, who can provide me advice from personal experience. It’s so comforting to speak with people who genuinely understand your struggles.
To the girls who follow this blog, who have alopecia, and are too scared to talk about it openly, this is your reminder that you are not alone. Your hair isn’t your defining feature or your worth. It isn’t your ‘beauty’ or what makes you feminine. The spark inside you is what matters. And your beauty isn’t defined by society’s materialistic standards.
Written by: Chloe Wetherell