Did you know that over 50% of women experience notable hair loss in their lifetime?
Hair loss is such a common occurrence in women, though talking about it is still considered taboo.
Chloe Bean, Arizona State University student and bald badass, is breaking down the stigma one Instagram and Tik Tok post at a time!
We were lucky enough to interview her for Hair Loss Awareness month and get a closer look into her life with alopecia.
Interview conducted via email August 12, 2021.
When did you first realize your hair was falling out?
“I was 8 years old when I first realized my hair was falling out.
I remember that I was in Elementary school and one morning while my mom was doing my hair, she noticed a bald spot on the back of my head. That’s when I started to notice a bunch of hair on my pillowcases every morning.
My parents initially thought that I was pulling out my hair, but over time more bald spots appeared and that’s when they realized there was a bigger situation at hand”
What was your initial reaction to your hair loss?
“I have been bald three times in my life now and I don’t really remember my initial reaction the first time I went bald since I was so young, but what I do remember is feeling like I didn’t belong when I was around people in public or around my friends since I wasn't like the other girls who had such long, beautiful hair.
Instead, I always had to wear hats out in public to try and hide the bald spots that were scattered throughout my hair”
How did you get diagnosed with Alopecia Areata?
“It took a few months of going to multiple doctors and dermatologists until finally a dermatologist at Mid Michigan Health Center diagnosed me with Alopecia Areata.
Little did I know the huge impact that would have on my life.
I feel that Alopecia wasn't as well known back then compared to today which is why it was more difficult for my peers to understand what was going on with me then compared to today's society, more and more people are starting to come out and say they have Alopecia or other autoimmune diseases which is absolutely amazing”
When did you decided to post about your hair loss and what gave you the courage?
“November 13th of 2016 was the very first time I gained enough courage to post a bald picture of myself on instagram.
After years of hiding it and having it control me I decided to take control of it.
There were many factors that encouraged me which include my family, especially my parents, but I would have to say someone who stood by my side and always had my back was my therapist.
I started seeing a therapist back in high school when I was losing my hair. After many sessions and countless tears, she helped me realize that instead of looking into a mirror everyday and not liking the image that reflected in it, that it would make me much happier to take control of my autoimmune disease by shaving what was left of my hair off. She was absolutely right. Rather than seeing bald spots grow bigger and bigger everyday around my head or seeing clumps of hair on my pillows, I felt powerful for once.
It felt like a weight lifted off of my shoulders after going completely bald. It was my new identity.”
What was the feedback like when you finally posted about your hair loss?
The feedback was absolutely powerful. I had people who I hadn’t reached out to in years commenting on my picture and my DMs were flooded with such positive messages.
Growing up people always knew I had Alopecia because they could see the bald spots around my head, but being able to take charge of something you have no control over and the courage to embrace it... is what makes you powerful!!”
When did your social media account starts to gain attention and how did it make you feel?
“My social media accounts started to gain attention because of my Alopecia and so to speak “coming out” with it.
Back in high school I would always post bald pictures of myself and I even made an Instagram account solely for the purpose of my journey with Alopecia, but I started to gain a lot of attention once a few of my Tik Tok videos went viral pertaining to Alopecia. Once that happened,
I realized something in my life that makes me truly happy is letting other people know that they aren't alone. It gives me a purpose!
Growing up I really didn't have a good support system or people who could understand me on a deeper level. I believe if someone is going through something, finding a support system is crucial. Knowing there are other people going through the same thing you’re going through and who can relate helps tremendously”
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspirations are both of my parents. They are what hard work and determination is. No matter what anyone in our family is going through they are my rocks, my support system and always have my back!
What was your experience like with medical treatments for your hair loss?
The fact that there isn’t a cure for Alopecia is very unfortunate, so my experience with medical treatment hasn’t been that great. I did start doing sessions of steroid shots back in high school that would get injected in my head, but that required countless sessions and once I stopped receiving the shots, my hair would just fall out again so it was like a never ending cycle.
I decided to quit receiving treatment this year actually and just embrace my baldness rather than try and fight for my body to produce hair when it isn’t meant to be.
What was the first wig you ever got and what was the experience like wearing it for the first time?
The first wig I ever received was from a nonprofit organization called Wigs4Kids. Maggie Varney the CEO made the experience out of this world!
During my appointment she showed me a variety of different wig caps and how they feel on your head to make me feel comfortable. I was also able to pick out the hair color on my wig.
The first time wearing it was so surreal because I knew that I had a wig on so it made me very self conscious about going out in public. I felt like I got really in my head and assumed that everyone would know I was wearing a wig because I knew that I was wearing one. I would constantly wear a hat over my wig to make me feel more comfortable, but over time it got easier and I accepted the fact I had a wig on my head.
What is your favorite wig color?
“My favorite wig color is a dark brown/auburn with ombre. I feel it makes me look natural and compliments my skin tone well”
Your cousins shaved their hair to make a wig for you and the video of it went viral! What was that journey like?
Family means everything to me. My cousins saw how difficult it was for me growing up at times not having hair, so when I recently went bald again my cousins decided to grow their hair out for me to make a wig from family hair.
Two years later, their hair was finally long enough to be able to donate it towards making a wig. At first my cousin, Grant, joked about it and would send me pictures of how long his hair was getting, but then it became a reality and he told me how he was now growing out his hair to make a wig for me.
Throughout the duration of him growing out his hair, he would update me over text or face time, explaining how he bought supplements to help make his hair grow faster. I am so blessed to have a family like mine!”
Female hair loss for Chloe has been a life long challenge.
Refusing to let her hair take control of her life and gaining the courage to shave her head, has been a life changing experience.
As the advice Chloe wish she had at the beginning of her hair loss journey states,
“It is such a beautiful process. Never fight for something that just isn't meant to be. I’m bald and have a story to tell.”
Follow Chloe on social media, @chl0ebean!
Keep up with us on socials:
Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook & Pinterest: @silkorlace
Chloe is my granddaughter and she is my heart, I am so proud of her.