Nobody at my high school knew I didn’t have hair but the burden of keeping the secret was getting to me. There was so much I couldn’t do just in case my friends figured out I was wearing a wig, things like the swimming carnival and going on school camps.
I was 16 when my first boyfriend asked me if there was something I needed to tell him. He said, “I think you’ve got something to tell me that I think you might be a bit afraid to.” It was really lovely of him actually.
We dated for three months.
If he hadn’t asked me directly, I would have been too scared to tell him. But after that conversation, I started telling everybody and it was really empowering.
Stefanie recently received the best wig she’s ever owned, courtesy of Variety Children’s Charity. Now she can try out all of these amazing hairstyles.
From the time I was six, my hairline marched slowly up the back of my scalp. Because there’s no cure for alopecia, I was thrown into a state of helplessness, where everything couldn’t be fixed by a sticker and lollipop.
My hair started falling out in chunks when I was 11. I’d find it on my pillow, on the bathroom floor and on my clothes – it was everywhere except for on my head. Soon, I became painfully aware that I shared my baldness with witches in fairy tales and old men, and that being different was something to be ashamed of.
I didn’t just lose my hair, I lost my confidence, sense of self-worth and a feeling of belonging.
When you have alopecia, hair becomes the persecuted minority, attacked by the soldiers in your body called the immune system. The guerrilla militants of alopecia areata create patches of hair loss on the scalp, an organised attack by alopecia totalis wipes out the entire population of hair on the head. Then it’s up to the secret service agents of alopecia universalis to pick off the remaining hairs on the body. This includes the eyebrows and eyelashes.
Strangely I still have hair under my arms but not much on my legs which is good.
High school ushered in a new age of secrecy. My beautiful wig granted me the normalcy I craved and I told no one about my condition. Maybe if I ignored what made me different for long enough, it would just go away. I was wrong.