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How My Comic-Con Costume Shows the Beauty of Being a Bald Woman


I have alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss. Once again this week, I’ll be wearing my “Ilia” costume at the big San Diego Comic-Con. The character is from 1979’s “Star Trek – The Movie,” and, as played by Persis Khambatta, she became a popular sci-fi icon. When people see me in this costume, they don’t see a woman with cancer, or a masculine-looking female. They see me as “normal” and healthy – more than that, they see me as beautiful and sexy! (I apologize if this sounds boastful, but the character is much-loved and I nailed the costume.)

Being a bald sci-fi goddess at Comic-Con.
Being a bald sci-fi goddess at Comic-Con.

While wearing this costume at two previous Comic-Cons, I was stopped repeatedly and asked to pose for photos. (Google “Ilia Comic Con” to see many of them). Nice-looking young guys wanted to have their picture taken with me. Countless people told me how awesome I looked. Best of all, no one thought I was sick or unusual because of my bald head! Most people assumed I had shaved – I was asked how long it would take my hair to grow back, and complimented for my commitment to the character for shaving my head! When Comic-Con ended, and I returned to real life as a publicly bald woman, I felt a little sad because I was going back to being perceived as ill or strange by many people.

I hope bald women who feel more comfortable in a wig understand that I completely respect your choice, and I want everyone to do what feels best for them. I’m not anti-wig; they just didn’t work out for me. But, for those of you who are “on the fence” or who have considered going “out” bald for whatever reason, I urge you to give it a try. Take baby steps and you may find, as I did, that it just gets easier and becomes who you are.

I dream of the day when all bald women, myself included, can feel just as normal, unremarkable, and beautiful as I feel in my Ilia costume at Comic-Con. I firmly believe this day will come, but only after there are many more bald women seen in public. The only way that will happen is if we do it.

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a scene or line from a movie, show, or song that’s stuck with you through your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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