I’ve worn a wig for nearly everyday of my life for the past 25 years. Around age 6, my hair began falling out in small round patches. At first, my parents weren’t sure what was wrong with me so they began taking me the doctor. After seeing a dermatologist, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune skin disease called Alopecia Areata. Eventually, I lost most of the hair on my head and body. Without a cure or any effective treatments, my parents bought me a wig to cover up my semi-bald-patchy-haired scalp. And I have barely taken it off since.
What I discovered was that the wig became a security blanket for me. I could avoid seeing my true reflection and at the same time fit in with everyone else. It allowed me to keep Alopecia a secret from not only strangers, but my closest friends. I have kept Alopecia a secret for most of my life because I became so fearful of what other people would say or think about me. And I developed a deep sense of shame along the way. I thought that because I didn’t have hair, I was ugly. I didn’t believe that anyone could love me because of the way I looked. What’s worse is that I didn’t love myself.
I’m a Christian. Recently, through many tear-filled pleas for help and prayers for answers, I felt the Lord calling me to share my story. It was terrifying but at the same time I knew that in order for God to use my story I had to share it. And not only did I feel Him ask me to share it, I felt Him ask me to live it. To take my wig off and live in the freedom that He designed for us to live in. Free from the fear because He tells us that if we seek Him, He will deliver us from all of our fears. Free from the shame because He tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Free from depression because He tells us that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.
I have been obedient to God’s calling. In the past few months, I have talked more about Alopecia Areata than I have my entire life. I have taken my wig off and let people see my true reflection. And what’s more, through this process I have come to love my own reflection without a wig. Where fear, shame and depression once dwelled in my heart, a sense of hope has taken over. I can now view Alopecia from a different lens. What I once thought was a curse, I now see as a gift.
I hope that in sharing my story, it will inspire others to accept their differences as uniqueness. To not let their self-worth be defined by what our culture says. And, to put their hope in a God who when we surrender to him, can do amazing things through our lives.