Self Love and Alopecia Awareness with Jess Newman (2023)

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Self Love and Alopecia Awareness with Jess Newman (1)

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June 30, 2021

Between periods, changes in our bodies and other things, it’s safe to say that women have a lot to deal with. Although a lot of the issues that women face can seem a bit taboo, we’re here to break down those stigmas and remind our Female Family that these issues are nothing to be ashamed about - hair loss included.

We caught up with influencer and alopecia ambassador, Jess Newman (@nevertooobold), who uses her platform to encourage women to embrace hair loss, whether it’s a result of alopecia, age, genes, menopause or any other related issue. Jess was first diagnosed with alopecia at 14 years-old when she started to lose her eyebrows and isn’t a stranger to the emotional impact hair loss can have on you.

Self Love and Alopecia Awareness with Jess Newman (3)

What is Alopecia?

Alopecia, medically referred to as Alopecia Areata, is a condition that causes hair to fall out in small patches which in some people, can be unnoticeable. Patches may connect and become more prominent. The condition develops when the immune system attacks the hair follicles, resulting in further hair loss.

How is alopecia treated?

There is currently no cure for alopecia, however, some people choose to embrace their condition altogether and shave their head. In our opinion, hair does not define beauty. For people who decide to have treatment, most common treatments includesteroid creams and other medicationswhich can be taken orally.

11 years on, Jess is now wholly accepting of her condition and uses her platform to inspire, educate and remind women that you don’t need to have hair on your head to be considered beautiful.

See what Jess had to say below.

Self Love and Alopecia Awareness with Jess Newman (4)

What age were you diagnosed with alopecia?

I first started to lose my eyebrows when I was 14 years-old. This slowly progressed to my scalp around the age of 15 which began with a bald patch the size of a 50 pence coin on the back of my head. By the time I was 17, I could barely cover up the bald patches which had started to take a toll on my self-confidence. I was resenting myself and making a conscious effort to avoid my own reflection.

I was told by the dermatologist (who at this point had diagnosed me with Alopecia at the age of 15), that my hair falling out was a coping mechanism for my body when dealing with stress. This was heartbreaking to hear and frustrating to know that the personwho was responsible for my hair loss was myself.

It was extremely scary and lonely watching my hair fall out day by day. I found this especially hard when starting college. A couple of months before my 18th birthday, I decided to brave the shave and start my wig journey. It was the best thing I ever did.

Tell us all about how your alopecia journey has shaped you.

Losing my hair was by no means one of the hardest experiences of my life, however, I truly believe I wouldn’t be the person I am today without this life change.

I feel like after going through an experience like this, you truly learn what really matters in life. Society has shaped us to believe that we have to have luscious, long locks to look ‘beautiful’ but this just isn’t the case. There are so many different versions of people in this world - different shapes, sizes, colours, facial features, limbs, gender etc and every single one of us are beautiful in our own way.

I have grown as a woman with my confidence, self-love and self-worth but most of all, I have learnt to never judge a book by its cover and toalways be kind as we never truly know what is going on in someone's life.

Do you think it's important to raise awareness of alopecia?

1000%. When I started to lose my hair, I wasn’t even aware that Alopecia was a condition. I had never heard of women losing their hair and there were hardly any bald women in the limelight. I felt so lonely and isolated not knowing a single person going through the same experience that I was. It was hard to wrap my head around why I was losing my hair as a girl, when no one else in my life or on social media or the TV was.

Raising awareness is so important for all ages but especially the younger generation. No one should feel ashamed of what they look like or feel the need to hide away just because they may not feel ‘normal’. Educating and raising awareness for conditions that aren’t seen every day is imperative to ensure that we all feel comfortable in our own skin and support one another no matter what we look like. This last year has been amazing for Alopecia awareness - there are so many bald women putting themselves out there on social media and sharing the same emotions that I feel on a daily basis. This is extremely comforting and empowering to know we now have an Alopecia community that are no longer scared to be themselves.

Have you found that being transparent about your own battles and challenges on social media has prompted you to become more accepting of your condition?

Absolutely. I only came out of the ‘bald closet’ around a year ago and the reaction I received from people on social media was overwhelming. Friends commented on how brave I was and total strangers were calling me beautiful. I have never truly believed this myself so to see hundreds of strangers posting positive comments came as a shock.I was by no means looking for people's approval, but I had always seen my Alopecia as such a negative aspect of my life, so the fact that people were lifting me up instead of tearing me down made me finally stop being so hard on myself. I started to realise that hair really isn’t the be all and end all to life. A year later after appearing on Channel Four (Steph’s Packed Lunch) and various newspapers such as the Daily Mail and Mirror, I feel empowered and happy in my own skin. I no longer cry when people stare at me in the street. I no longer wear mywigs day in and day out to hide my condition and I no longer try to be someone I’m not.

How do you look past negativity on social media?

I recently received a negative comment on a picture of myself in an underwear set with the caption ‘you do not need hair to feel feminine’. The person on the other side of the computer obviously disagreed and decided to air his opinion. He continued to say I was just posting pictures of myself bald for attention. This upset me a lot more than I thought it would in all fairness. I have quite thick skin but I can be super sensitive at times, like everyone can be, I guess. I spoke to my mum and best friend about the comments and they soon made me realise how little his opinion should impact my life.

Whenever I receive negativity towards my Alopecia, I try to think of how far I have come in the past year. Yes, I am now putting my biggest insecurity all over social media ready for people to make comments and judgments, but I am no longer hiding away like I was for ten years. I am far happier showing off my bald head and feeling free with the odd troll making an appearance then I was when I had no self-confidence or self-love. Trolls are just unhappy people so if anything, I feel a lot more sorry for them then I do for myself with the way I look.

A lot of women naturally feel like they have to have hair to feel beautiful. Tell us, in your own words, what does beauty mean to you?

Beauty is a combination of qualities in which hair has a very small part to play. To me, beauty is having the confidence to walk outside knowing not everyone you come into contact with will see you as beautiful. Beauty is having the confidence to challenge society's view of the perfect woman and to show the world that no matter what skin you live in, as long as you have a kind heart and a kick ass personality, your beauty will shine through - hair or no hair.

What would be your advice to women who are struggling to come to terms with their alopecia diagnosis due to the fear of rejection?

The thought of rejection is scary and now that I've shown my baldness on social media, I can’t hide the fact that I'm bald like I used to when I first met someone. When you begin to gain your self-worth back and realise how wonderful you are with or without hair, it becomes a lot easier to lose that initial rejection fear.

If someone is shallow enough to not look past the hair (lack of) and see you for the amazing person you are, do you really want to surround yourself with that person? If losing my hair has taught me anything, it’s how to spot the good from the bad. Be proud of who you are and rock your differences because who doesn’t want to be as cool as us anyway?

Finally, do you have any words of encouragement for our Female Family on self-love?

Always be kind to yourself. You don’t get another chance at life so appreciate yourself everyday. Appreciate the parts of yourself you love and the parts of yourself you love a little less. We are all unique and beautiful in our own way and let's face it, owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest and the most beautiful thing we can ever do!

We couldn't agree more! Girls, you absolutely have to follow Jess for all of the good vibes. Head on over to her Instagram to become besties!

Want to catch up more of our Female Family? Head on over to our blog to catch up with some of our gorgeous Loungers.

Self Love and Alopecia Awareness with Jess Newman (5)

Self Love and Alopecia Awareness with Jess Newman (6)

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