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How I Feel About the Oscars Altercation as Someone With Alopecia

Alopecia: a condition that a lot more people have heard of now.

This is a real condition that affects many people in various forms and ways. When I watched the Oscars altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock, I was not expecting it at all. At first, it didn’t seem real. But, it has happened and now we are talking about alopecia, so here are my thoughts as someone who has had alopecia since the age of 2 and has been through a lot. I can truly say that losing your hair is very difficult and very emotional.

Jada has been very open and honest for several years about her struggle with alopecia. I have struggled too. I don’t know whether Chris or the scriptwriter was aware of this, but there was definitely a missed opportunity to educate the world about alopecia. There are certain things that are just simply not funny and should not be made fun of, such as a person’s appearance when they have voiced numerous times they are not OK with something they can not control. The look on Jada’s face — I felt it to my core. I have been in social settings where a joke and comments have been made about my alopecia and it is humiliating and uncomfortable. Her look spoke volumes. She is the one we should be focusing on at this moment, regardless of her personal life and past issues in the news.

I believe a better way for Will Smith to handle it would have been to take the following moment to educate on alopecia, stand up for Jada and express his love for who she is as a woman, not what is or isn’t on her head. As a partner you want someone to have your back and stand up for you, though she is powerful and could have done so herself. It is very unfortunate that this situation happened, and it never should have unfolded this way. However, one positive takeaway is that people are talking about alopecia, bringing awareness to this condition. It is never “just hair” or “just a joke” because until you have lost your hair, you have no idea the emotional toll that comes along with it. You lose a part of yourself. It is so important to remember that your words carry meaning and magnitude. Being embarrassed on a public stage for the world to see is not OK.

As a society, we need to practice empathy. As an advocate in the alopecia community, this has been a tough, yet important time. There has been hurt and loss from a 12-year old girl taking her own life two weeks ago because she was bullied for her alopecia. It is devastating and to read some of the comments and push back on this has been tough. But, I know the importance of standing up for others and what I believe in.

Even after all this past week has brought, I can still say alopecia is the greatest gift I never knew I needed. My biggest takeaway is that violence is never the answer. Always choose the high road, but awareness, education, and empathy are so important.

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