Chris Rock's Oscars joke about Jada Pinkett Smith puts alopecia, hair loss in spotlight

About a third of all women will experience some form of hair loss. While many choose to hide the condition, others are living out loud and proud.

News 12 Staff

Mar 28, 2022, 10:26 PM

Updated 807 days ago

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In the wake of comedian Chris Rock's Oscars joke about actress Jada Pinkett Smith, many social media users are talking about hair loss and the stigmas that people who have the condition face every day.
About a third of all women will experience some form of hair loss. While many choose to hide the condition, others are living out loud and proud.
"Being bald, more often than you realize is the butt to so many people's jokes," says Sanah Jivani, of the Love Your Natural Self Foundation.
Jivani has alopecia, a condition that causes partial or complete baldness. It's the same condition Pinkett Smith has publicly struggled with. Jivani, like Pinkett Smith, has learned to embrace it.
"One day I started looking in the mirror and started saying, 'Hey, I'm bald and I'm beautiful. I am strong, I'm courageous, I'm brave,'" Jivani says, but adds that it took her years to build that confidence.
Some forms of alopecia can be treated. Kimberly Pryslak helps women experiencing hair loss in the Hudson Valley at Medi Tresse in Scarsdale. She says it can be devastating and have profound impacts on every aspect of life.
"I see women who don't want to socialize, they don't want to go out, they don't want to be a part of society because they feel they don't fit in," Pryslak explains.
Incidents like the one at the Oscars ceremony on Sunday shed light on why so many women choose to keep their condition private.
Jivani says she can relate to being publicly shamed for her baldness, which is why she started the nonprofit "Love Your Natural Self Foundation."
"People said mean things to me, but the things I said to myself were so much worse," she says.
The organization works with kids K-12 to promote self-love and acceptance. Jivani hopes that Sunday's incident serves as a teaching moment.
"I hope it starts a conversation about the courage it requires to show up as all of who you are," Jivani says.
Alopecia is also common among men and is known as male-pattern baldness.
Approximately 25% of men who inherit the condition start losing hair by the age of 21.


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