I Have Alopecia (A Post By My Mom)

A year ago, my mom’s hair fell out. All of it, seemingly out of nowhere. I am so grateful to her for telling her story here.

I used to have really pretty hair. Then – suddenly – it was gone. All of it. I should feel sad. Or angry. Or something. But I don’t.

In early January 2018, my hair started to fall out. Every morning when I brushed my hair, I would end up holding handfuls of it. After a week or so, I went to my hairdresser. She confirmed I was suffering some hair loss, and artfully arranged my cut so it wouldn’t show. After another week or so I couldn’t hide the growing bald spots.

I bought a hat. 

Within a month, I went from pretty hair to no hair. Even my eyebrows and eyelashes were gone. I cut off what was left, and shaved my head.

I bought a wig. 

My new wig was beautiful; long and glamorous. At my next visit to the wig shop I spotted a short red number and tried it on. Everybody said I looked great with red hair. It suited my complexion and I looked like Reba McIntyre. I wore the red wig to the New Orleans Jazz Fest. After the first day it was too hot.

I bought a bandana.

I wore the red wig for awhile after that, but became increasingly comfortable without it. The only drawbacks to foregoing my wigs were the condolences from strangers: on the street, in the subway, in the airport. They all thought I was undergoing chemo, and wished me good health. I even had a lady pray over me in the subway once.

I bought bandanas in every color to match my outfits of the day. I wrapped them around my head like hippie headbands.

I don’t wear a wig anymore. My only concession to my condition was to have eyebrows and eyeliner tattooed on, because I found that my eyebrow pencil and eyeliner always smeared, and I would end up the day with half an eyebrow. Perhaps it’s the confidence I put out, but I don’t get a lot of sympathetic looks anymore. I just go about my business – proudly bald. I joke that I am moving to Wakanda and joining the royal guard.

Nowadays, it only takes a few minutes to get ready in the morning. No hair to wash, dry or style. No eye makeup. Just a little foundation and lipstick, and I’m ready to go. No more dropping hundreds of dollars every month for color and cuts at the hairdresser. There are upsides to everything, if you pay attention to them.

I am told that I look beautiful with no hair. And I do feel beautiful. It’s a youthful look, and it makes me want to dance. 

So I will.  

– Bonnie Berkow (Jordan’s mom)

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