You would think someone with a disease would have problems in school such as socializing or generally fitting in. Growing up down south and moving to New York city was a huge change for me. When I was three years of age I developed a disease called Alopecia Areata. This is an auto-immune disease that affects the hair follicles and causes baldness of majority of the scalp. I am lucky enough to just have baldness of the scalp and still have my eyelashes and eyebrows.
I started 5th grade in New York City. It was many more curious adults and children of my mysterious condition. I wore a braided wig styled in a bob until I reached middle school. It was times where people would ask me if I had cancer and in my mind I would ask myself out of all things cancer? Growing up my father was one responsible for setting my self-esteem way high off the charts. Continuously he would remind me how I’m no different from a girl with hair and how beautiful I am inside and out. That helped me from time to time. My family didn’t really treat me different, they still loved me for me.
I think I really started letting the Alopecia get to me when I got to high school. The place where popularity is based on appearance and popularity. I never really cared about if I was someone’s friend or if I fitted in, it was just maybe a short period in my life when I was insecure of my hair because, at that time I felt limited to how I could present myself. Sometimes I was teased for wearing a wig or not having hair. I didn’t care until someone touched my hair then I was really upset. There was plenty of times my hair was pulled off. One day I was in art class and this boy came up behind me and pulled off my hair and then I felt everyone’s eyes looking toward my way. Some were looking at me eager to see my reaction while other’s were starring at my bald brown skinned scalp. I was upset, nervous, and then at the same time I was like well isn’t this what everyone has been waiting for? I mean I know everyone in my class was anxious to see my real me and there I was. Even though that moment felt like forever , I remember it was probably 2 minutes my hair was off on the floor. I had picked up my hair and continued to do my work while I fixed it and everyone continued to stare.
I love having Alopecia for several reasons. One reason is because it gives me another reason why I’m so different and special. You don’t meet someone everyday who has Alopecia. I faithfully buy new wigs every two weeks either by myself or with one of my parents. The stares I get from workers and costumers is so priceless. Some workers would have the audacity to watch me while I choose my wig and I just smile because that’s the beauty of it and the attention it brings. I just like showing people how you could still be yourself with hair or not and it’s ironic that people with hair have low self esteem for what reasons I don’t know. Today as an 12th grader, I have friends who know about it and some of them who just don’t care. It’s surprising to me sometimes how the boys are the ones who ask about it instead of most girls who just assume or go ask someone else. I don’t have a problem with informing anyone. To have this disease and still be able to live my life to the fullest and achieve anything just like someone with no disease is a blessing. Everyday I recognize who I have grown up to be beautiful, intelligent & down to earth.