‘It started on Sunday February 28th 2018, I remember it clearly. ‘You should clean your brush every once in a while’, said my mom while I was brushing my hair. ‘I cleaned it just this morning’, I replied. I personally wasn’t too worried. I felt totally fine, but mom was quite freaked out. The next day, she called the University Medical Center, where they treated my eczema. The doctors looked at my head and knew straight away: this is Alopecia. ‘It might not get worse than a few bald spots and there is a good chance that it will grow back’, they said. Well, it didn’t. Two weeks later, I was completely bald. Eyelashes, eyebrows, body hair - everything fell out.
The first days, I would sit on my mom’s lap and cry. I had such a hard time seeing those bald spots get bigger. But once it was all gone, I got used to it quite quickly. I put on a wig and a beanie and just went to school. When we went to Walibi in sixth grade, I got on a roller coaster with a wig on and everything. At first, the staff member said I had to take off my beanie, but I explained the situation, and I was allowed to keep it on. Everything stayed in place. I had a great time!
The first day of middle school was so scary. Every time someone looked at me, I was worried that my wig wasn’t sitting right. I didn’t stand in front of the class and tell everyone, that seemed too intense, but after two weeks, a few classmates asked if I was sick. So now, everyone probably knows about it. Sometimes I post videos on TikTok and Instagram without my wig on - I have an account with two other girls who have Alopecia. I often get questions on there, but no one says anything about it at school. I like it that way because I don’t want to talk about it all day long. Only the trainer sometimes asks me to put on my beanie during gym class so I can take part in everything. But I refuse to do it. They will never see me without a wig. When we play volleyball, I’m happy to participate, but I’m not going to do flips or hang upside down from the rings. I just sit on the sidelines then.
Last year, my hair suddenly started to grow again. My parents were thrilled, but I knew it could fall out again. When the first bald spots appeared, I said to my mom ‘Just shave it off again’. I find going bald harder than being bald. By choosing my moment myself, I don’t need to worry about waking up without any hair one day. My eyelashes do seem to be back for good and I’m really happy about that. At least I don’t get flies in my eyes in summer and I can wear mascara again. Half of my eyebrows are back, and I fill them in. When I wear makeup, I feel less boyish.
My hair is growing back for the second time now. I’ll just see how long it stays this time, I don’t think about it that much anymore. My girlfriends have known me bald too, it doesn’t make a difference to them. And wearing a wig has some advantages. My real hair was much thinner. Now, I can choose from five different hairstyles every day, and when I curl my hair it still looks perfect the next day. At night, my hair is next to my bed, it’s brilliant.
Something that does seem difficult is falling in love. Every 14-year-old girl has some insecurities, but I’m far from the picture-perfect ‘long hair/big boobs/round butt’ look. Having to tell a guy that I don’t have any hair sounds terrible. But on the other hand… If he can’t handle it, then I’ll know straight away that he’s not worth it. I think having Alopecia has made me a stronger person than most girls my age. I feel perfectly fine on the inside.’