When Brittany Myers was just a little girl, her mother noticed that her hair was falling out while she was brushing it. After several test screenings and by the process of elimination, doctors diagnosed her with alopecia at just 7 years old.
Alopecia is a type of hair loss that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles. Now at 33, Myers is raising awareness during Alopecia Awareness Month, when many people with the condition take to social media to share their stories.
“[Alopecia is] not a sickness. It’s not caused by stress. It’s simply a function of the body that we have no control over,” Myers tells Yahoo Beauty. “Throughout my childhood and into early adulthood, I would only have a missing patch of hair here or there — sometimes more and sometimes less,” she says. “When things were good, I didn’t think about it much. When things were bad, I worried a lot about one day losing all my hair.”
I’ve never been too vocal about #alopecia. Those that know me know why I am bald, but I don’t often talk about it in a public forum. I guess the reason, really, is that I have never wanted it to define me, and I still don’t, but sometimes talking about it can be cathartic for me, and maybe someone else out there too. And this month, I’ve been told, is #alopeciaawareness month, so I figured this was as good of a time as any to say a little something. . Alopecia is hair loss caused by an immune system mix-up. Simple as that. It’s not a sickness. It’s not caused by stress. It’s simply a function of the body that we have no control over. We’ve all got something, alopecia just happens to be more obvious because it’s on the outside. While it’s not life threatening, it can be life altering, especially for those who didn’t grow up #bald. . My journey with it began… (continuing reading at my link in bio and fb) . Photo by my dear friend @jameschororos
A post shared by Brittany Myers (@mountainsofmountains) on Sep 13, 2017 at 6:06pm PDT
Myers overcame her fear of becoming bald when she was 26. One missing patch of hair grew bigger, so with the help of a stylist friend, she saw this as a sign that it was time to reinvent herself and her look.
“Back then, I never imagined it wouldn’t grow back,” she says, “but I’ve been bald ever since.”
Myers says meeting other women with alopecia has been “hugely beneficial.” She explains, “It helped me begin to see the complex beauty in the baldness, in the challenge of it all, and finding that comfort over time helped me to shift focus away from alopecia and baldness.”
Other women like Myers are sharing their inspiring journey with alopecia on Instagram, including powerful photos that illustrate how they’ve handled hair loss.
Take a seat kids it's story time… "Do you have cancer?" is usually one of the first questions out of a stranger's mouth. Whether it's a parking lot or the grocery store or wherever. I've gotten good at responding. I usually smile and shake my head "no" and explain to them that I lost my hair due to an autoimmune disorder called alopecia universalis. Back in June of 2016, while finishing up my freshman year of college, I was missing about 70% of the hair on my head and body. I still remember the day I walked into my dad's office (who also has alopecia) and told him that I wanted to shave my head. I was sick of feeling hopeless every time I ran my fingers through my thinning long brown hair and was reminded of my disease by the clumps of hair I held in my palms. I was tired of cortisone injections and last ditch efforts to prevent my hair loss and had accepted the fact that I was born to be bald. In July, I threw my "Going Bald" party and invited some of my friends and family. My mom went first, since she had promised me when I was diagnosed at age 5 that she would shave her head in solidarity if I ever lost my hair. My sisters and friends then took turns shaving the few remaining patches of hair on my head before I was finally handed a mirror to see what they had done. All I remember was a feeling of pure relief. Being bald hasn't always been easy. I've questioned my self-worth and fixated on other people's opinions way more than I should've. I've learned that not everyone is as accepting and that not all people are able to look past the fact that I have no hair – but that's okay. As I look back on the last 14 months, I think about how lucky I am to have such loving and supportive family, friends, and boyfriend by my side the past two years. Thank you for putting up with my endless bald jokes and for having my back always. For those who've made it this far, if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with #alopecia of any kind, please don't hesitate to reach out. I know not everyone is lucky enough to be surrounded by people who understand what they're going through. Anyway, happy #AlopeciaAwarenessMonth
A post shared by Stephanie Turner (@stephdog1) on Sep 11, 2017 at 3:17pm PDT
Hey, hey! I am bald Laura and I've been making my head disappear into white backgrounds since 2003 when I lost all my hair due to this little thing called Alopecia. For those who don't know, Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that attacks hair follicles and does not allow my body to grow hair for some odd reason. It's pretty rare and most people assume I have Cancer, but I assure you I am as healthy as can be. September is Alopecia awareness month, so I want to take a moment to share how much of an impact being bald has had on my life. For the last fourteen years I've fought against the societal lies that you need to look a certain way to be beautiful. At first this was a long, hard struggle (hello middle school ) of coming to terms with not having hair. I hid behind wigs, lied to my classmates about why I wore hats, and sobbed over the thought of potentially never having hair again. Slowly, but surely, I realized that life and beauty and confidence are about so much more than hair. And now, I couldn't imagine life any other way. Here's the thing – each of us have our own unique attributes, challenges, and experiences that shape the trajectory of our lives. I would have never guessed from a young age that mine would be being bald, but I am so damn thankful it is. In honor of Alopecia Awareness Month, I hope you celebrate beauty in all forms, take time to listen and ask questions of someone else's journey, and hug someone who is bald. XO!
A post shared by Laura Jean Gilleland (@accordingtolaurajean) on Sep 13, 2017 at 6:20pm PDT
This little ballerina is my reason for this alopecia awareness journey. What an inspiration she is!! Let's create a world we're there's more understanding and acceptance of everyone! • Preschool age children are so busy exploring the world, learning new skills, and becoming more independent, that they don’t pay much attention to their own physical appearance, or the differences they may have from others their age. • For this reason, children under five years old who have alopecia areata don’t usually experience as much of an emotional impact from their condition. They may see their own hair loss as something interesting, but not much more. And their friends at this age aren’t likely to notice, either. • By the time a child is six years old, they’ve begun to interact with more people of all ages and have gained enough experience in the world to start noticing the differences between themselves and others. Between the ages of six and 12, children become much more aware of how others think and feel and they may begin to focus on how others see them, or how their condition may make them seem different from their friends. (naaf.org) • #alopecia #alopeciaawareness #nohairdontcare #baldisbeaitiful (: @oathandstone)
A post shared by Jamie Touchberry (@jamietouchberry) on Sep 14, 2017 at 3:14am PDT
Happy #nationalalopeciaawarenessmonth yes! That's right. September is Alopecia Awareness Month. For those of you who don't know, alopecia is described as an autoimmune disorder where your immune system attacks your hair follicles, viewing them as foreign invaders. It can affect patches on the head, the total head, eye brows and lashes and even total body hair. Having alopecia areata my entire life has been a serious struggle. I started with patches on my head which progressed to barely any hair left on my head. I still have my eye brows and lashes, I have bald spots on my legs, but grow hair everywhere else. Today, I can confidently and without doubt say how grateful I am for this experience. I am perfectly healthy otherwise, and I have come to look at it as…hair is just hair! It doesn't define me. No physical attribute defines anyone! Whether it be color or gender, or even hair. I hope to remind everyone to be open minded and welcoming to breaking the chains that society places on us from birth…of what is right and what is wrong. Of what is beautiful and what is ugly. See people! As they are! As human beings, as beautiful creatures. Being bald has set me free in a way I could never imagine. While I still do have daily struggles and people seem to be extremely passionate about their opinion of bald women (and openly share it daily), I try to focus on the positive comments rather than the negative ones. A lack of acceptance from others reflects upon them…and criticism and lack of acceptance is what they draw to themselves by judging. I am healthy, I am loved. Hair is just hair and I have so much more than just that to offer.
A post shared by The Bald Foodie (@thebaldfoodiegirl) on Sep 1, 2017 at 5:58am PDT
September is #alopeciaawarenessmonth and reflecting back on a year and a half of being open about my baldness I am amazed and grateful at the journey that has brought me here. My younger self never would have believed that I would one day stand in a crowd with nothing on my head, something I once felt too vulnerable to do in my own home, and forget about my naked head. Alopecia alters such a minor part of what makes us living breathing human beings but it's so much deeper than that. It's just hair but it's so much more than that. Alopecia is part of who I am but I am so much more than that, and part of that is due to the strength I have gained from this disease. Be bald. Be bold. Be beautiful. #alopecia #alopeciaawareness #alopeciauniversalis #thebaldiemovement #nohairdontcare
A post shared by Melinda Hatt (@schmeltinda) on Sep 13, 2017 at 9:19pm PDT
When discussing her resilience, Myers says, “Part of being strong is coming to terms with the fact that these are the cards I’ve been dealt. We’ve all been dealt something. I realized not too long ago that once you stop caring so much, once you stop focusing on it all the time, the rest of the world does too.”
She continues, “So much freedom comes from acceptance and letting it go.”
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