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'I wasn’t going to let Alopecia control how I felt about myself anymore'

I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata when I was 9 or 10 years old. I gradually noticed patches on my head which would move around, growing back then falling out again. My mum tried so hard to help me do my hair in different ways, but it was beyond frustrating because there was no real solution it seemed. I tried supplements, creams, ointments and even went to a hair loss clinic, to no avail. Of course, nothing worked, so I began wearing wigs. Wearing wigs in a secondary school entailed a lot of bullying and horrible remarks, so I skipped school a lot. At the time, the best way I could cope was to hide away, and my confidence was nonexistent. During my later teens I was hospitalised with a blood infection, and that’s when my hair all fell out. The stress of that time was beyond anything I’ve ever felt. At 17, I was severely depressed and had to leave college early because I wasn’t well enough to finish. Fast forward through years of trial and error with wigs, synthetic and human hair, and I got to a place where I decided to shave off my hair (the few patches I was holding onto). I began meditating and reading books about self love and the laws of attraction and felt I was ready for my friends and family to see me without wigs. I decided to post a photo on my social media pages, one with me bald and one wearing a wig side by side and the overwhelming reaction I got of love and positivity was amazing. I had never in a million years thought people would be so supportive. I was definitely prepared for nasty comments but I had nothing of the sort. I found an amazing online support group of bald women where you can ask the group anything and share your own experiences and no one would judge because we were all in the same boat. I really sought comfort and great perspective of my illness, and decided I wasn’t going to let illness control how I felt about myself and rule my confidence the way it had any longer. Now I choose to go out bald or wear a wig (completely depending on my mood) and I treat my wigs as no more than an accessory, switching up colours, lengths etc as much as I want to. In my early 20s I got so sick of spending thousands on wigs and getting such terrible quality in return, that I taught myself how to make my own wigs. I got so many compliments, that I started to make them for other women just on the side during my weekends. During a tough time in my depression three years ag,o I was medicated and had a lot of time to think about what I actually enjoyed doing. So I started my own business Lace By Lala, which is a Wig making service that was mainly geared toward hair loss sufferers, but most importantly encouraging self love and building self esteem. Alongside making wigs I’ve always wanted to help women and children suffering from alopecia, so now I have decided to begin works on a charity that will make free wigs for children experiencing hair loss and a safe space that they can share their experiences and gain support from others in similar circumstances. At the moment it’s funded mostly out of my pocket but I’m hoping in the future to possibly secure public and private funding.

Author credit: Christala Fletcher / Photo: Paula Siqueira

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