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Alopecia “Strips People of Their Identities”

Millions of people worldwide are affected by Alopecia, an autoimmune disorder. It’s a lot more for many women, especially Black women. It’s not about race or beauty, but about culture and the uncertainty, it creates in people’s self-perception.

The 94th Academy Awards ceremony was held on Sunday night. When comedian Chris Rock made a pointed joke about Jada Pinkett’s hair loss, some felt it was insensitive. This event revealed many layers of feelings for people who struggle with the disorder.

It also brought attention to the disorder, which is not well-known but very common and affects many people, including children.

Will Smith, an actor, stunned millions with his performance when he walked onto the stage and slapped Rock for the joke about Pinkett Smith.

These are some things that are worth knowing about alopecia:

What’s it like to have Alopecia?

Rock’s joke was hard to hear for Sheila Bridges, a New York interior designer.

Rock interviewed Her about Black culture’s importance of hair for his documentary “Good Hair”, 2009. She spoke about her shame and humiliation at losing her hair to the disease, her relationship with her race, and her loss of femininity.

Bridges were left with conflicting emotions after the Oscars slap: She condemned Smith’s attack on Rock, sympathized, and was deeply disappointed with Rock.

Bridges stated that it is difficult for women to live a life without hair, and in a society obsessed with hair.

She doesn’t like wearing wigs and hopes to normalize and de-stigmatize baldness.

Bridges admitted that even after going bald in public a decade ago, it was still hard for others to accept her decision: “I rarely make it through the week without somebody saying something very, very insensitive.”

It’s not clear if Rock knew about Pinkett Smith’s diagnosis. However, hair can be difficult for Black women who have been expected to change their hair texture for a white standard of beauty for generations. Even famous Black actresses claim it can be difficult to find Hollywood stylists who know how to style their hair.

According to a 2019 study done by the Dove personal-care division of Unilever USA, Black women are 80% more likely than white women to alter their natural hair in order to conform to social norms at work.

According to research, black students are more likely to be suspended because of dress code violations or hairstyle violations than any other students. This was proven by the U.S. House’s decision to ban discrimination that is based on natural hairstyles.

Bridges stated that the Oscars slap was “the only positive thing that can be taken out of all this”

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