Many of us tend to associate baldness in women with illness (say, resulting from chemotherapy) or rebellion (see: Sinead O’Connor, Britney Spears). But for 1 in every 250,000 women, having no hair results from a condition known as alopecia totalis—an autoimmune reaction where one's own immune system attacks the hair follicles.
This first-person piece, written by New-York-based novelist Helen Phillips for the New York Times, offers some humorous insights into the lives of four young women living with alopecia, whose looks are so singular, they often get mistaken for one another. The women share a desire to educate people about the fact that their condition is purely cosmetic, not health or life threatening, and their decision to go without wigs or scarves spreads awareness and invites conversation.
Although there is no reliable ‘cure’ for alopecia, it can be sometimes be treated with steroids and other specialized drugs, so consult your dermatologist if you have questions about your own hair (or lack thereof). If you lost your hair tomorrow, would you wear a wig or go commando?