Amy Robach of the Today Show did a special on an group called “Bald Girls do Lunch,” which is an organization committed to improving the quality of life for women and girls who are living with alopecia areata. BGDL unites women in a social setting (dinner or lunch) where they can meet and exchange experiences in an effort to enhance self-esteem, self-confidence and a sense of community. This video reminded me of one of my own personal experiences.
Last year, I attended the National Alopecia Areata Conference in Lexington, KY. When bald women get together in a group, we tend to forget our appearance issues and feel more relaxed in the company of look alikes. A group of us were out on the town and having a grand old time. After a few libations, we decided to play a trick on the waitress. We began to swap wigs so that every time our waitress returned to deliver our drinks we had a new appearance. She was totally confused. We decided to ratch it up a notch and take our wigs off completely for our last call! We were causing quite a commotion in the restaurant, but it was the source of much fun and quite a release of some pent up emotions. Our waitress seemed to enjoy our antics, and we compensated her well for her patience.
The next night, we ventured out again as a group but this time, we went without our hair. Although we were out to have a nice dinner with friends, we could sense the change of attitude from those around us. We were subject to the “sympathetic stares” and the questioning eyes. We tried to ignore all of this, but it was quite obvious that our bald heads were becoming the topic of conversations at more than one table. We thought we would get through dinner without having to explain ourselves, but it was not to be. Our waiter informed us that a gentleman at a nearby table was buying us dessert. Although a nice gesture, we knew it was for a specific reason…yes, he thought we were a group of women undergoing chemotherapy! This is always a tricky situation because in one sense you want to set people straight, which involves explaining a disease that most people have never heard. This can make the listener feel foolish, which is never my attention. We enjoyed our free dessert but left the restaurant wondering if we’d ever be able to enjoy an uninterrupted dinner as a group of bald women! Wig swapping was much more fun!
The video does highlight some of the daily struggles for a bald woman in today’s appearance driven society. Women who suffer from alopecia are normal, healthy and vibrant - we just don’t have any hair. Raising awareness to the emotions attached to medical hair loss is our mission at 4Women.com.