What is alopecia? Jada Pinkett Smith’s experience brings public awareness to disease

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Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head on the Oscars, prompting her husband, Will Smith, to bounce on stage and slap Rock. The Smiths had been apparently upset with the joke – throughout which Rock likened Pinkett Smith to bald film character “G.I. Jane” – as a result of she has alopecia, which causes hair loss.

Alopecia is a disease that develops when the physique assaults its personal hair follicles, which may trigger hair loss wherever on the physique, in accordance to the American Academy of Dermatology. Many folks with the disease develop a spherical or oval bald patch on their scalp, however some types of alopecia may cause complete hair loss on the scalp, and even the whole physique.

Smith first opened up about her alopecia analysis on a 2018 episode of her household’s Facebook Watch show “Red Table Talk.” She stated it was “terrifying” and that she found handfuls of her hair had been falling out within the bathe. “It was one of those times in my life where I was literally shaking in fear. That’s why I cut my hair, and why I continue to cut it,” she stated.

In an Instagram video posted in December 2021, she revealed a very shaved head, saying, “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends.”

“Now, at this point, I can only laugh,” she stated within the video.

U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley has additionally opened up about her struggle with alopecia. The Massachusetts Democrat stated in a 2020 interview with The Root that her alopecia escalated in a short time. “I had been waking up every morning to sinkfuls of hair,” the congresswoman instructed the outlet, additionally revealing her bald head on digital camera for the primary time.

She at first wore a wig however stated she knew she would finally go public about her alopecia, as a result of she felt as if she “owed all those little girls an explanation.”

Pinkett Smith’s openness in regards to the disease has earned her reward each earlier than and within the wake of the Oscars incident.

“Jada’s positivity reigns! Her #alopeciaareata diagnosis doesn’t get her down. It’s one of the unique things about her that builds her up. We love your inspiration for our women’s @alopecia community,” Thea Chassin, founding father of alopecia awareness non-profit Bald Girls Do Lunch, tweeted in 2018.

“Thank you Jada for giving me the courage to go bald,” one other girl tweeted in 2018. “I’m on dialysis and the meds caused me to get alopecia. You are an inspiration and I’m no longer ashamed of my appearance.”

British actuality TV star Zara Lena Jackson, who additionally has alopecia, posted in regards to the incident between Smith and Rock on her Instagram story, saying she would not condone violence, nevertheless it did deliver awareness to the disease.

“To me, that is the affects of alopecia, [Smith is] under a lot of stress watching his wife go through such a traumatic experience,” Jackson stated. “And it’s a breaking point. And I’m not saying that justifies what he did to Chris… But it is about time alopecia got taken seriously.”

Caitlin O’Kane

Caitlin O’Kane is a digital content material producer masking trending tales for CBS News and its excellent news model, The Uplift.