I literally woke up one day, and had a small bald spot the size of a dime behind my ear. There was no sign of breakage, scalp irritation, or even itching. The hair was simply gone and the little spot grew bigger and bigger with each passing day. Within a few weeks, I had a little “bald spot party” taking place on my scalp. If that sounds like a nightmare, it’s because it was one!
I was devastated when I learned that I had the autoimmune disease alopecia areata. For some unknown reason it causes your body to randomly attack your healthy hair follicles from the root, and oh by the way, there is NO cure! I wasn’t even sick, so a diagnosis of a disease caught me completely off guard. Before that moment, my hair had been a big attribute to my overall feeling of confidence with my self-image. I kept my hair looking nice and I got compliments regularly on my cute, short, sassy style that matched my personality.
When faced with the experience of watching my hair fall out daily, painlessly from the root, I was afraid to put any chemicals in my hair. I did not want to make a bad situation, worse. In an effort to prevent further damage, I was FORCED to go natural. I had no idea what to do with my natural hair, especially since there were round patches of it obviously missing. Braided extensions and weaves would only cause further damage by adding additional pressure to the root. It was a desperate time for me and the safest thing I could do was to wear a wig to cover up my patchy afro. Underneath it, I looked and felt a mess! The experience felt like cruel and unusual punishment to go from being sexy and sassy, to feeling like an ugly duckling.
After one miserable year, when 50% of my hair had already fallen out, it miraculously began to grow back. The cortisone injections and creams did not work for me but the disease went into remission and my hair began to return just as quickly as it went away. For the moment, my prayers had been answered and I was ecstatic! It was an awakening for me to realize how important my hair was to me. I realized that I took my hair for granted over the years unconsciously using relaxers, hot combing and dying my hair with NO thought for the overall health of my hair. Now that it had returned, I was not going to do anything to compromise it by reverting back to my old hair care practices. I was a natural woman and I intended to stay that way. The experience taught me the importance of true self-acceptance and the power of my hair as an African American woman. I had to look back at our journey through the eyes of my ancestors and the role hair played historically in the perpetuation of self hatred that was taught to us, and the need to cover up the authentic expression of ourselves.
As my hair grew back I locked it. I fell in love with my locks and myself in a brand new way. I realized that I was still cute, sexy and sassy but now even more because I knew who I was. I had the joy of freedom now that I was no longer afraid to get caught in the rain for fear that my hair would get wet and ruin my hair style. I had no concern for scalp burns from over processing or touch ups in the nape of the neck when my natural state would pose a threat of returning.
Unfortunately, my alopecia did return and progressed to complete hair loss all over my entire body. Aside from having to shave off a few stubborn patches of hair that still grow in, hair has been a non issue for me for the past 10 years. I have learned how to live comfortably in my skin as a bald woman. Whether you have hair or not, the real benefit of going natural is the experience of liberation into a deeper level of self-love, self- acceptance and self-expression just as you are. Hair is fun and does not have to be a headache. As African American women, there are tons of things we can do with our hair whether we buy it or work with what God has given us. Beauty does not look one way. It is a colorful rainbow with limitless expressions. The time has come for us to change the dynamic in our culture and break the cycle of unhealthy hair care practices that has been passed down from generation to generation. God bless our ancestors for their innovation and creativity but we now know that chemically altering our natural state has had long term damaging effects to our scalp and in silencing our authentic voice.
Let your hair be an expression of who you really are. If you are challenged with hair loss, buy some hair that does express who you are OR stand up with me and shout, “Say it loud…. I’m BALD and I’m PROUD!” Whatever you do, be all the way you.
Post your comments below. I would love to hear your feedback and your natural hair stories.
Join me as I sit as a guest panelist joined by some of the best Natural Hair Stylists, Fashion Designers, Health Enthusiasts, and Community Icons in the South East at the Neo Naturalz Hair Convention in Greensboro NC.
For more information, and to register visit THIS LINK.
Sandra Dubose is the Bald Beauty Queen of Self-Esteem and former 2011 Mrs. Black North Carolina. Sandra is a nationally sought out inspirational speaker, liberation life coach, women’s health advocate and author of “My Crown and Glory, It’s NOT About the Hair.” Gleaning from her own life experiences, Sandra empowers women with the tools and strategies she has used to heal emotional wounds, build healthy self-esteem, and develop the courage to let their light shine from the inside-out. Learn more at
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