Julie was 14 years old when her hair fell out in just a few short weeks due to alopecia. Now 35, she told us about the profound impact the condition has had on her.
My parents have always been amazing; I’m so grateful for that
When Julie was 14 years old, all her hair fell out in just a few short weeks due to alopecia. Now 35, she told us about the profound impact the condition has had on her.
Alopecia shaped my life in a lot of ways. For a long time, I didn’t really deal with how much it was affecting me – it damaged my self esteem in a big way and it’s only now with hindsight that I can see that that affected every part of my life from career choices to relationships with friends and family. I spent so much time and energy trying to hide my difference that it became a kind of obsession, which was really energy draining.
It’s not really about the hair; it’s about the emotional impact of it – learning to accept the lack of control, coping with stares and questions, finding a way to feel feminine, beautiful, loved.
Losing my hair damaged my self-esteem to such a degree that I lost a huge amount of my confident, unstoppable personality. I didn’t want to stand out, I worked very hard to blend in and not be noticed. That’s really career limiting. By the time I realised I was doing this, I had missed so many opportunities career wise.
I never believed in myself enough to put myself out there and talk about what I could do and had delivered at work. I spent far too much of every day worrying about hiding patches of hair to be able to fully engage with what I was doing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done fine career wise but I know I’ve held myself back underselling myself and not believing in myself.
My parents have always been amazing and I am very grateful for that. They sacrificed things financially so they could buy me natural wigs that would allow me to blend in and to pay for micro-bladed brows when I was a teenager. They answered the questions people asked so I didn’t have to, and most of all they listened and loved me.
My husband has never made it an issue and he’s done some things that he would admit were not the easiest like shaving my head for me. He views my ever changing hair choices a bit like which t-shirt I’ve chosen to wear that day.
My children see me with a different hairstyle every day of the week, it doesn’t change who I am and hopefully they have seen that I am in no way limited by looking different to other mummies. The wonderful thing is that they and all their friends know what alopecia is and it is completely normal to them.
Have a visible difference story? Share yours using #MyVisibleDifference on social media or on our Tell Your Story page.