I Shaved My Head To Take Control of My Hair Loss - An Interview With Chloe Bean
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!
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Hair Loss Awareness Month | What Women With Hair Loss Want You to Know
It’s August, which means it’s also Hair Loss Awareness Month!
Wait— record scratch— what is Hair Loss Awareness Month?!
Hair Loss Awareness Month is dedicated to the millions of men, women, and children who are currently experiencing hair loss and navigating the social stigmas associated with it. Reasons why people might lose their hair include styling techniques and practices, health conditions, trauma, genetics, aging, medication. The list goes on.
When most people think about hair loss, they picture a balding man. But women experience thinning hair, too. In fact, did you know that it’s estimated that more than 50% of women will experience noticeable hair loss in their lifetime? So, why is no one talking about it?
The one thing that all women with hair loss share in common is that we are all in this together to break down the stigma — and we look good doing it, too! For Hair Loss Awareness Month, we asked five women with hair loss what this month means to them. Keep reading to see what they said!
Kate, in a Lu’s Wig purchased from Resell: Silk or Lace
Kate Resler @katerspie
While my hair loss started around 2012, I wasn’t diagnosed [with Androgenic Alopecia] until late February 2020. I’d only started to dip a toe into the hair loss community online a few weeks before.
I’m still figuring out where hair loss figures into my identity—as someone who had incredible bio hair for most of my life, that was a huge part of my personal vision of myself, and giving that up has been… Odd? Hard? It sucks, but it’s also fine?
Hair Loss Awareness Month is not just about raising awareness for hair loss, but about redefining and expanding concepts of womanhood, girlhood, and beauty. Examining hair loss, talking about it, working out how we feel in a public forum helps redirect the way we value people for how they look and the choices they make around how to look in the world. I think, and hope, it’s a time to help us be a little kinder to each other.
I was born in Mexico, but as of now I’m considered a Mexican-American. I am 37 years old and I have lived in America for 11 years. I have been suffering from hair loss for 13 years and five years ago, I decided to go get checked by a professional and was diagnosed with Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) and Scarring Alopecia.
When I first noticed I was losing hair, I was attending college. At that time, I was under a lot of stress because it was my last year at the university and I had a lot of worries and responsibilities on me. I had organized my wedding and was adapting to living here in the United States. There were many changes in my life I had to get used to. Living in a different country from where I was born was both an emotional and cultural shock. I had to adjust to a new life in a country that I had never known before; a new language, a new culture, and I was under a lot of stress, which caused my hair loss to start once again.
After my diagnosis, I was devastated to learn that my hair wouldn’t grow back again. I felt hopeless and ashamed. In the Latinx community, hair loss is a taboo. This taboo shows how hard it is for women to talk about hair loss because people can be very critical or opinionated on this sensitive topic. Not to mention the extremely high beauty standards that put an immense pressure on the idea of having beautiful and perfect hair.
It hasn’t been easy for me to accept my journey; I still have my ups and downs, but I’m at a point in life where I feel so much more at peace with myself. I love my new me and I'm happy to know that I’ve become the strong woman I am today.
Hair loss awareness month in my opinion is a reminder that we are beautiful, strong, and powerful, with or without hair. This is a reminder that experiencing hair loss doesn’t mean you have lost your femininity. It’s also a reminder that we are more than just hair. Although there is still a long way to go to break down the stigma attached to female hair loss, we are on the right path. The more we talk about it, the more awareness we are creating and the closer we are to breaking down this stigma. One of my personal goals is to normalize female hair loss in the Latinx community.
A hairdresser told me I had thin hair in high school. I was more self-conscious of my excessive dandruff than my thin hair at the time. Fast-forward to my early thirties, and after bouts of major stress and taking birth control for many years, it had become a real insecurity that affected my confidence immensely. I remember looking into the mirror and seeing an ever-widening parting, so I would change my part over and over again. I would talk about it constantly and bring it up during social events, like how you would if you had a giant pimple. I cut my hair shorter, which helped. But then it got so thin that I only felt comfortable wearing my hair in a ponytail. I tried extensions, but they didn’t work since the thinning was diffuse. I cared for volume, not length.
It wasn’t until I discovered Suran’s Instagram, @the_strandie, that I felt there was relief coming my way in the form of a topper. I was amazed by how natural it looked and how easy it was to put on. I participated in a meet-up hosted by Suran in Dallas in February of 2020 and purchased my first topper from Serenity Wigs and Toppers. I finally felt relaxed during social events when I wore my topper. And most importantly, I met people in the community that understood everything without explanation. Thank you to @the_strandie, @alliesalopecia, @thebrondeblonde, @lossknotlost, and @dorinazerad for helping me on this journey. I’m so happy to celebrate Hair Loss Awareness Month with you all, and many more!
YoMo Castellano @hairlossbonita
I've lived with Androgenic Alopecia since 2013. I wholeheartedly believe that Hair Loss Awareness Month should be 12 months out of the year. Dealing with hair loss sucks and what makes it worse is that, while it's something that affects millions of us all over the world, it isn't a topic that is talked about due to the associated stigma. Not talking about something that is so normal and common not only isolates us, but keeps us in the dark about facts related to hair loss. The lack of awareness and education can lead to negative psychological and emotional effects on an individual, such as depression, lack of confidence, social isolation, millions of dollars wasted on hair growth treatments/solutions that may not work, and the possibility of being taken advantage of by scammers who are looking to make money off of folks who desperately want to grow their hair. The biggest missed opportunity is not knowing that there is an amazing hair loss community on social media who can help make the hair loss journey a lot less lonely.
When I first joined the hair loss community on Instagram at the end of 2019/early 2020, I didn't find Latinas talking about this topic, which didn't surprise me. Hair loss is a major taboo subject in our community. It is because of this that I created HAIRLOSSBONITA to raise awareness about Alopecia, in English and Spanish, and to show that one can live a fab and full life with hair loss. The lack of chatter about hair loss in the Latinx community (and all communities for that matter) must change and I vow to do what I can to help change this narrative. It's because of this that I have made it my mission to shed light on Alopecia to break the stigma and normalize wearing alternative hair. Celebrities shouldn't be the only ones having fun with wigs and toppers!
Hola, soy YoMo y vivo con alopecia androgénica desde 2013. Creo firmemente que el Mes de la Conciencia sobre la Pérdida del Cabello debería ser 12 meses al año. Lidiar con la caída del cabello apesta y lo que lo empeora es que, si bien es algo que nos afecta a millones de personas en todo el mundo, no es un tema del que se hable por el estigma asociado. No hablar de algo que es tan normal / común no solo nos aísla sino que nos mantiene en la oscuridad sobre los hechos relacionados con la caída del cabello. La falta de conciencia / educación puede provocar efectos psicológicos y emocionales negativos en un individuo, como depresión, falta de confianza y aislamiento social, millones de dólares desperdiciados en tratamientos / soluciones para el crecimiento del cabello y la posibilidad de que los estafadores se aprovechen de las personas que desesperadamente quieren que le crezca el cabello. La mayor oportunidad perdida es no saber que existe una increíble comunidad de pérdida de cabello en las redes sociales que puede ayudar a que el proceso de pérdida de cabello sea mucho menos solitario.
Cuando me uní por primera vez a la comunidad de pérdida de cabello en Instagram a fines de 2019 / principios de 2020, no encontré a latinas hablando sobre este tema, lo cual no me sorprendió. La caída del cabello es un tema tabú en nuestra comunidad. Es por esto que creé mi página IG llamada HAIRLOSSBONITA para crear conciencia sobre la alopecia en inglés y español y también para mostrar que uno puede vivir una vida fabulosa y plena con la caída del cabello. La falta de charla sobre la pérdida del cabello en la comunidad Latinx (y en todas las comunidades) tiene que cambiar y prometo hacer lo que pueda para ayudar a cambiar esta narrativa. Es por esto que me he propuesto crear conciencia sobre la alopecia para romper el estigma, pero también para normalizar el uso de cabello alternativo. Las celebridades no deberían ser las únicas que se diviertan con pelucas y toppers.]
Leah B. @falloutgiirl
Hair Loss Awareness Month is such an important time for me to actively educate others on hair loss and its causes. I was 16 years old when my hair started falling out in clumps in the shower and I had no idea what was happening to me. I was scared because I didn’t know anything about hair loss or anyone who was going through the same thing as me. I felt alone.
I hope to help other girls who feel isolated in their experience by showing them that so many women have hair loss for a multitude of reasons, that lacking hair does not equate to lacking beauty, and sharing how there are so many different alternatives for hair (wigs, toppers, turbans, etc.).
I think it’s amazing that there is an entire month dedicated to hair loss awareness and I hope that this month and onward, we can empower each other through this experience that has taken so many women’s confidence.
What does Hair Loss Awareness Month mean to you? Let us know in the comments below!
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Why Won't My Wig Fit Me? - Common Wig Questions We Get Asked
Celebrities With Female Hair Loss
Female hair loss for whatever reason seems to a taboo topic.
First things first, what causes hair loss in women? There are a multitude of causes for hair loss in females from post-partum, cancer, alopecia and stress to even over dyeing.
Statistics say that one in four women experience hair loss at some point in their lifetime. These statistics are way to high to NOT talk about female hair loss!
So let’s break down the stigma and discuss some high profile celebrities who have come forward about their hair loss journey.
Ariana Grande Developed Hair Loss
In 2010 the Nickelodeon show Victorious premiered with a bright fiery red headed Ariana Grande as the character, Cat. In order to keep up with the signature Cat hair color, Grande had to dye her hair every other week!
This over dying of course damaged her hair and caused it to start falling out. This is actually a direct correlation to the iconic Ariana Grande ponytail hairstyle.
Due to the hair loss and breakage from dyeing, Grande had to find someway to wear her hair that wouldn’t cause more damage and could cover up the extensions.
Viola Davis Has Alopecia Areata
When Viola Davis was 28, she lost half of her hair due to her diagnosis with alopecia areata.
Now, what is alopecia areata? According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, alopecia areata is an autoimmune skin disease that causes hair loss on the scalp, face and sometimes other part of the body as well. It is more common of a disease that one would think, and it is one of the forms of alopecia that contributes to a lot of cases of female hair loss.
In Vulture’s 14-Step Guide to Happiness with Viola Davis, the actress states, “I woke up one day and it looked like I had a Mohawk. Big splash of bald on the top of my head,” she says. “I was like, What is this? Until I found out it was stress related”.
After the realization of her hair loss, Davis wore wigs all the time. She wore them in the pool, working out, anytime she was in public. This was until she realized that she didn’t have to hide her female hair loss and she wore her natural hair at the 2012 Oscars.
Now Davis only wears wigs when she wants to, not because she feels like she has to.
Jada Pinkett Smith Has Alopecia
When you think of Jada Pinkett Smith, you might picture her with her short hairstyle that she has rocked for quite a while. Did you know that she cut her hair and continues to do so because she developed alopecia?
The actress and mother realized that she most likely had female hair loss because handfuls of hair would come out of her head in the shower. Like anyone would, Pinkett-Smith started to panicked and feared she was going bald.
After some internal healing and the realization that she has no control over the situation, her worry began to settle and she started to look at the situation in a new light. She began wearing hair scarves on her head and in an interview with BBC News; she stated that the head wrap made her “…feel like a queen”.
Female hair loss is not a taboo topic!
It is something that many women, no matter their walk of life have to face. If we as a community create a positive and open dialogue we can end the stigma surrounding of hair loss in women one strand at a time!
I Hated My Hair.
We interviewed 5 drastically different women who shared one commonality that perhaps every woman can relate to - our tumultuous relationship with our hair and how society has shaped our views.
Happily Ever After: Getting Married in a Wig or Hair Topper
Saying those two words, "I do" have never been more life-changing, destiny-altering. As you look into the eyes of your partner-for-life, I'm telling you the last thing you want to think about is your hair.
But saying "yes to the tress" is not as easy as you'd first think it would be.
Here's some of the advice I have for future brides on things I thought went well and some things I wish I would have done.
My Hair Loss Story, written by Audra Rackley @audrarackleyhair
I’d like to start off by introducing myself. I’m Audra, and I have had Alopecia Areata since birth. There is no cure for this Autoimmune Disease, so I have been wearing hair for over 20 years. I am also a hair stylist. I am so grateful to have a profession in which I love and can help others.
My Hair Loss Journey: Turning a Negative into a Positive, Written by @shannon2point0
Saying Hello to Hair Loss
Hello! I'm Eva (@effing.good.hair).
I’ve always had thin hair that was smooth and straight. Always reaching for those volumizing shampoos and telling my hair stylist before every cut, “Just a trim, and can you make my hair look thicker?” I envied my mom’s thick Asian hair and always wished she had passed those genes to me. Instead, I got my dad’s hair texture, before he lost most of it to male pattern baldness. I always joked that when I got older and became a granny, I would be bald like my dad but have the best hair thanks to wigs. Little did I know, I would be entering the world of fabulous hair much, much earlier.
My hair loss started really gradually. When I started birth control at 18, I would shed and leave hairs everywhere. I didn’t have any signs of hair loss at the time and attributed it to normal shedding. I Inspired by the dreamy ash-coloured balayages I saw on Instagram, I also started bleaching my previously box-dyed hair about twice a year.
Things started to change in December 2018. I was 22, and under a lot of stress from my new part-time job and being in the last year of my undergraduate degree. The signs of hair loss were discrete but noticeable; bigger hair clumps in the shower, a smaller ponytail diameter, and oh my god, I can see my scalp when I tie my hair up?!
April 2018 (left) and March 2019 (right), featuring my boyfriend's dog, Mia.
I panicked and took it to myself to do some good old internet research and learned about the different types of hair loss, and other women’s experiences on Reddit and The Hair Loss Project. I found out many women had experienced hair loss due to birth control and it made me realise my birth control or existing hormonal imbalances must be one of the factors attributing to my hair loss in addition to stress.
I went on Instagram and searched “hair loss” to see if there was anybody else publicly out there with hair loss. That’s when I found Kellie (@hairlossboss) and first learned about toppers. I was in shock at how natural hair toppers could look, and I was relieved that the solution to hair loss was so simple: alternative hair. As I kept digging deeper, I also found Kim (@kimdubs_) and Suran (@the_strandie), and lurked in the community while trying to come to terms with my hair loss.
I had doubts about my hair loss at first. My hair loss pattern wasn't like other women's and I'm not losing nearly as much hair due to stress. Are my concerns still valid? I tried to convince myself that it wasn't so bad. Eva, you've always had thin hair! It'll grow back. That's what everyone says about hair.
But I couldn't deny the everyday experience with my hair.
When I run my fingers through my hair, there was less hair to run through.
When I tie a ponytail, the hair tie now goes around 3 times comfortably, when it only went around twice before.
When I push all my hair to one side of my head, I have half the amount of hair than before.
When it's windy outside, more of my hair flies because there's less to hold it down.
I decided to visit the doctor in hopes of to validating the reason for my hair loss. This is what he said:
If it’s alopecia areata, you would have bald spots but you don’t. If it’s androgenic alopecia, you’ll see your part get wider, but it’s not. If it’s telogen effluvium, if I pull your hair, a lot should come out but only 1-2 hairs came out after I pulled so many. When I look at your head, you still have a lot of hair. So no, I don’t think you have hair loss or it’s not that serious.”
My brain just kind of shut down at that moment and I left the office feeling a little more hopeless. Did I have to lose more hair before I would be taken seriously? After a blood test, I found out I was iron deficient, but my hormones and thyroid were all fine. I hoped that after taking months of iron supplements, my hair would revert back to what it used to be. But it didn’t.
I slowly started opening up more to my friends about my hair loss. I had initially gotten comments of: "Your hair looks fine! I don't think it's thinning." But when I told them I would start wearing alternative hair, all they said was: “Cool! Let’s see it when you get it.” Their acceptance and support helped me so much in accepting my hair loss. It made me realise that no matter what my hair looks like, I am still Eva and people still love and accept me for who I am.
I’m also so grateful I am a part of such a supportive and empowering community. I decided to start my own hair loss account on Instagram and took up the opportunity to write blogs here on Silk or Lace to engage with other women and also give back to the community that’s helped me so much.
It's through the hair loss community that's empowered me to take back control of my hair loss. By changing my thoughts around hair loss, I'm able to see the options moving forward. Rather than mourning what my hair once was and shying away from cameras, I'll be able to wear hair better than my hair ever was and could be and carry on with life.
Thank you for taking your time to read my story! Feel free to slide into my DMs to share your story with me on Instagram (@effing.good.hair).
Hair Loss and Dating, Written by @Beckiiwitthegoodhair
Hair loss should not be considered baggage.
But from my experience, when it comes to dating, hair loss can tend to feel like the largest suitcase you tote.
No matter your age, gender, history, or astrological sign, it is daunting to discuss parts about yourself that you deem flawed, especially with those in which we are romantically involved.