Opinion: The boldness that led me to stand in my baldness – The Cincinnati Enquirer


Nine months after giving birth to my son in 2001, at the age of 35 years old, I’d noticed a drastic change in the texture of my hair. I was concerned but not necessarily worried because of all of the hormonal, emotional and bodily changes that I was going through while being pregnant. The change in my hair texture was just another change that had come with the pregnancy, I thought.
Standing in front of my bathroom mirror, I began brushing my hair. All of the sudden a clump of hair became entangled between the bristles of my hair brush. Bewildered, I removed the clumps of hair slowly from the brush. In utter disbelief, I brushed once more and to my surprise another clump was entwined in the bristles, yet again.
Glancing back at the mirror, my eyes would not be deceived – my hair…my scalp…my head…bare. Inwardly, I screamed to myself, “Me! Bald? What was I to do? What would people say? How would I be perceived?  What would my husband think?  Would he still love me?  Would my husband still find me attractive or even desirable?”
I knew that it was one thing for a man to live in society without hair, and not be judged harshly by their appearance. The complexities of society’s standard of beauty is felt to the core of my being all too well, especially for me, being a woman of color.
And just like a chair that had been pulled out from under me, I fell to the floor in utter disbelief. I curled my limp body into a ball and cried my eyes out until there were no more tears to cry. Feeling embarrassed and ashamed of how my newfound “baldness” has made a mockery of my appearance. My initial discovery was later diagnosed as alopecia.
Alopecia? What was it? Why me, and why now? The diagnosis had shaken me to my inner core. Day in and day out, I grieved the death of my crown that had given me so much glory. Unbeknownst to me, I hadn’t realized just how much I’d bought into society’s views and belief of a woman’s beauty. The very thought of having alopecia only aided more in my deep loathing of self.
I couldn’t sleep or eat for months at a time. I began wearing wigs and wraps in order to mask the shame and pain from the unmerited jeers of my baldness from myself and the world. No longer active, constantly fearful about where I had to go and who to see, I became a recluse in my own home. My day-to-day living had left me feeling debilitated. I allowed alopecia to plague my life.
After a year of sleepless nights, loss of appetite, loathing, disguising my alopecia, my decision to stand boldly in my baldness came when I could no longer endure the mental and physical exhaustion of the self-imposed stress that I placed upon myself. I was tired of being tired.
Immediately, I lifted my own veil of ignorance about alopecia, and let down my guard to bare my soul to the ones who I had only loved, admired and adored. 
My decision to stand boldly in my baldness is when I laid down my wigs and wraps after Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley revealed her beautiful bald head and talked about alopecia for the first time. 
My decision to stand boldly in my baldness came when I reflected upon India Arie’s infamous song, “I Am Not My Hair.” Her lyrics affirmed me like positive affirmations.
My decision to stand boldly in my baldness came over a period of time, and my new boldness allowed me to stand in my baldness. 
Kasandre Brown lives in Montfort Heights.

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