I’ve had alopecia since I was 10, and it’s affected me as a kid, as a teenager, and as an adult.
By 2010, I had become really good with convincing wigs and felt confident enough that I can help others, so I founded a support group in Vancouver. I was so lucky to have the most amazing people join the group. We laughed so much at our funny alopecia moments and sometimes cried at the hard alopecia moments. We bonded with each other like lifelong friends would.
I created the group to help others, but ironically, I got the most out of it:
At that time, I kept my alopecia a secret. I put a wig on and life seemed no different than the haired people, so I didn’t feel too bothered by alopecia. However looking back, I realized I was still very not-ok with having alopecia, and I held myself back from living life fully, without knowing.
Our support group meet-ups were fun every time. I don’t think anyone expected that! One time, Dana told us a story. She had been AU for 2 years and was wearing a wig. One day, she was downtown by herself, wearing a stylish outfit. Feeling especially good that day and knowing she wouldn’t run into anyone she knew, Dana took her wig off on a whim, and went into Starbucks for a cup of coffee! She reported back that no one thought it was strange, and she felt great! I couldn’t believe she did that! I was inspired.
At the meet-ups, members would wear a wig or take their wigs off. I would be so blown away by how good people look without hair. I would tell them that they looked awesome without hair, because they really did. Over time, it finally occurred to me, why can’t I think the same of myself?
It took 3 years (I’m pretty dense!), but hearing these stories and seeing these bald people finally got me to see my alopecia in a positive light. In 2013 on my birthday, I put up a video on Facebook to let all my friends know about my alopecia and that I was going to have fun with it from now on! (I later put the video here so it’s public.)
The video went semi-viral on my Facebook, but wasn’t life-changing in an instant. I didn’t expect my friends to be different, and they weren’t. However in the two years since then, I discovered how life-changing it really was for me.
I did so many things that I didn’t know I held myself back from. I learned to scuba dive and saw the most colourful sea life. When I vagabonded in Shanghai, I had a roommate for the first time, and it was so much fun! When I backpacked in Thailand, I stayed at dorm-style hostels and met so many cool people. I went on first dates without a wig and those dates were amazing.
“Coming out” about my alopecia was freeing, because I can finally be the same person in public and in private. The secret that was weighing me down had lifted. I still wear wigs sometimes, but not to hide behind them. I wear them for style like I would wear a dress or a pair of shoes.
I really want to share some stories and inspiring people with you, presented in a visual way like at our support group get-togethers, because they were what helped me transform and love myself the way I am. This is why I’ve started The Alopecia Channel.
Loving and accepting yourself doesn’t happen overnight. If you are dense like me, it might take a few more nights, haha. So let’s start, today!
Also, if you are raising alopecia awareness, have a website, fan page, twitter, or support group, please contact me. I’d love to list you on here or talk about you in the videos!