Alopecia is a hardcore thief.
Not your "Harry-and-Marv-from-Home Alone-"sticky bandit"-who-you-kinda-love" type of thief. Not even the kind you can arrest and throw into jail. This thief is unidentifiable. Alopecia can steal all your shit, come back unannounced and take all your shit again. Alopecia took all of my hair about 10 months ago, within a span of a week. In its robbery, it managed to sneak in a couple months ago and take my eyebrows, too.
There goes what I affiliated as my identity, a big chunk of my self-esteem, and now my eyebrows. My. Goddamned. Mother. Effing. Eyebrows! Pardon my language, but the next time you look in the mirror without eyebrows, I'd like to know what words you choose from your lexicon.
When I was first diagnosed, I waited a week to announce to my friends and family of my prognosis. When my eyebrows went, quite rapidly in fact, I only told two people and decided to keep this to myself until I was ready. I just washed my face one day, and they were gone! My eyebrows straight up apparated. The chain of thoughts that ran through my brain started off comical, actually. This was some sort of sick joke, right? First my hair and now my face?! REALLY, though?! Then, what started as a laugh, slowly morphed into the ugliest cry of my life. You know what transition I'm talking about.
Soon, I started watching dozens of YouTube makeup tutorials about how to draw on eyebrows and make them look natural. It was hell. As the summer got hotter, I would get so self-conscious about my makeup rubbing off at the gym or when I'd be out in public. I'd use the camera setting on my phone to make sure they hadn't melted off every 5 minutes. Lord, help me if I were eyebrowless on the subway for everyone to see.
The toughest part of having Alopecia is feeling completely out of control. You have no choice in when your hair falls out, when it grows back or if it ever will.
Honestly, it's still embarrassing. I hid this for months.
There are many, many women who hide underneath their wigs and their makeup to hide alopecia - uncertain. Uncertain of their mysterious disease, uncertain of how they will be perceived without their luscious locks, and uncertain of the type of support they would receive. Dozens of emails have flocked to my inbox in response to my previous blogs about women who have never even spoken to their family members about their hair loss. They wear wigs all day and all night, afraid of judgement. How can I blame them? I'm just as scared; just as helpless. I am also guilty of hiding because of shame. Fortunately, I have an outpouring of incredible amount of support, especially from my beloved theatre community.
What happened next was nothing short of a blessing. A dear friend of mine, Jenn, sent me a link she saw advertising a "Day Of Love" for men and women with Alopecia. One of the most renown permanment make-up artists in Hollywood was giving out eyebrow makeovers for free. Her name is Sheila with her salon called Sheila Bella Permanent Makeup Salon. (http://permanentmakeupsocal.com/)
Countless celebrities have gotten services from this salon and have only praised Sheila's work. I submitted my story, and a few days later I got a phone call saying I had been selected! This is a moment to be celebrated! Sheila, a stranger whom I've never met, is helping me through this adventure I call Alopecia. I get my eyebrows back this week all because of Sheila Bella! A procedure in which I could not afford on a normal basis will be completely covered. Truly, a blessing.
Looks aren't everything, trust me. I've learned tough lessons about vanity and its importance in the past year. In the grand scheme of life, looks are meaningless! There are issues out there that take precedent. However! Just because I had some humble pie, doesn't mean it wasn't difficult to take a bite. I am human. I am allowed to want to look feminine and attractive just like the next person. I am allowed to miss my hair.
To be excited is an understatement. Not only is Sheila helping me, but a handful of women with Alopecia will be there this weekend, too. Through her generosity, we will find a little bit of ourselves again. She is helping us regain a bit of our identities back and mostly helping us feel a little less helpless. It truly will be a day of love. I guess Alopecia can't take it all.