Every year when the Miss America pageant is on TV, I can't help myself from watching. Its not my thing, I am not a beauty queen at all, I never wanted to be Miss America. I don't really even remember watching it all that much when I was growing up. However, these days it is almost like a car wreck, I can't look away. I have a dear friend who was Miss Washington in the early 90s, so I feel almost a personal connection to the pageant. I always wonder what Annalee thinks of certain girls.
While it is not my thing, it occurred to me this year that these women train for this event like we train for a marathon or triathlon. They have a team, experts, a plan. It costs lots of money, takes all their time and focus. So no matter how you feel about the pageant, I think you have to respect the hard work they put into it.
I like to hear the platforms that these women have chosen. This year, one in particular struck a nerve. Miss Delaware's platform, was Alopecia. A condition that she has. Alopecia is thought to be an auto-immune disease that causes people to lose their hair. There are all different forms of this. Some lose all their hair forever. Some lose some of it for a short period of time. Miss Delaware, Kayla Martell lost her's around age 10 and it never grew back. She wore a wig during Miss America, but most of the time does not wear it. She is most comfortable in her natural, bald state.
The reason this resonated with me is because I had this condition when I was young. I remember when it started. Easter of 1986. I was sitting at the dinner table at my Aunt Pearl's house. I had a hair clip in my hair. I pulled it out to reposition it and a bunch of my hair came with it. I ran my hands through my hair a few times and clumps of my hair came out. I was 12 years old, 6th grade.
Over the next two years, I lost probably about 50-75% of my hair. We went to every doctor we could find to figure out what was wrong. My maternal Grandmother had lost her hair when she was young and it never grew back. She wore a wig her entire life, I never saw her without it on.
I remember taking all different kinds of medicine. One in particular was a big yucky yeast pill. I would cry at the dinner table when I had to take it. I remember traveling into Philadelphia to see a specialist. I don't have very many pictures of myself during that time. I kind of block it out. Everyone said it was due to nerves and if I could learn to handle stress it would all be better. If that's the case then I will surely lose all my hair again because I still cannot manage my stress. I need more counseling on that than is even possible.
I put up so much of a defense around myself during that time. It was almost like I was in denial about what was happening. I refused to even consider wearing a wig. I acted like it didn't bother me. I was 13 years old, in New Jersey, in the 80s. Hair was important. Big hair. I had none. That was hard. I think this time in my life is part of the reason that I remain so distant with people. I make them work to get close, I believe that started during these years. I had my circle of friends and I knew I could trust them...it was the others I had to be concerned about.
People thought I was sick, they thought I had cancer. They didn't ask me about it though. I don't remember anyone really saying "what's wrong with you". I didn't ever talk about it with even my closest friends. I don't remember being teased. I had gone to school with the same kids for my entire life and I got along with everyone. I wasn't popular, I was just neutral, so no one seemed to care. At least that is how I saw it.
I don't remember worrying about it growing back. Really, I don't remember much about those years. I do know that I hated school and I have often wondered if that was because of how I looked, but I don't remember thinking that. It makes me uncomfortable to talk about it even now. I know that it caused a great deal of stress and worry for my parents and I really remember hating that. I remember wanting to act like it didn't matter because I didn't want it to matter to them.
After two years, it grew back as quickly as it had fallen out. Going to get my hair cut for the first time in over two years was one of the best days of my life. And so life goes on. I haven't had any issues since then. In fact, I have a healthy thick head of hair.
I do worry that it will happen again. It occured to me a few years ago that this all happened when I was going through puberty, so what if it happens again when I go through menopause. I asked Trevor if he would still love me if I lost all my hair. He said that he would grow his hair long to make a wig for me. That may be the nicest thing any person has ever said to me.
When I saw Miss Delaware and heard her talk about her life with Alopecia, all these memories came rushing back to me. I am so thankful that it was only for a short period of time. I am so thankful that it isn't something that I had to manage for my entire life. I commend this woman for being so strong and so comfortable in her own skin. I have hair and am not as confident as she is. People say that beauty is only skin deep, but let us be honest....how you look matters. To everyone.
I don't know why it happened to me. I don't think of myself as a nice person, so if it was to make me nicer...it didn't work. I do think that I am a compassionate person. I don't stare at people who are different. I am inclusive and understanding. I know what its like to be different.
Here is a link if you want to know more about it. I wish this had been available for me all those years ago....