PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — September is Alopecia Awareness Month and our very ownopened up about her Well, she’s not alone. We hear from women in Philadelphia who are also embracing the beauty of being bald.
“There is nothing like losing your crown,” Chanel Conley-Bacon said.
And by crown, she means her hair.
Before going bald due to alopecia, Conley-Bacon was on a decades-long natural hair journey. Her tiny individually twisted sister locks represented a deep connection to her African American roots and self-empowerment.
“That was who I was,” she said. “It was a part of me.”
So, when Conley-Bacon began losing her locs, she lost her sense of identity.
“In 2014 I was married to my now ex-husband and just going through an exorbitant amount of stress,” she said. “At first it was one or two locs and then later on it started being five or six locs and locs throughout the course of the day. I was mortified, I started to become a shell of myself. I wasn’t that outgoing. I wasn’t that friendly.”
“All the types of alopecia negatively impact people’s lives,” Susan Taylor said.
Dr. Susan Taylor is a Penn Medicine dermatologist specializing in hair loss.
“There are some alopecia’s that are considered autoimmune diseases and that simply means the cells in our body turn against the hair cells and make the hair come out,” Taylor said. “You can wake up one day and have patches of hair loss and then wake up a few days later and have no hair.”
The uncertainty and unpredictability make this disease difficult to accept physically and mentally.
“Many of my patients also experience anxiety and depression because of losing their hair,” Taylor said. “It takes a rare person to throw away their wig and present themselves to the world.”
A henna artist in Manayunk is empowering women with alopecia to do just that.
Amirra Williams is in the business of making bald beautiful by adorning the scalp with a captivating tapestry of intricate patterns using henna.
“It makes me emotional that I’m able to make them still feel beautiful and not have hair,” Williams of Henna with a twist said.
“It makes me feel like a Nubian queen,” Jasmine Temple said. “Her work is so detailed.”
Williams’ work has given women, like Temple the courage to come out from hiding underneath wigs and embrace being bald.
“Not coming out was a dark place for me. I felt ugly,” Temple said. “We were brought up that hair was everything, so I had to unlearn that hair wasn’t everything.”
Since shaving off the last of her locs in 2020, Conley-Bacon has reclaimed her crown and discovered a newfound freedom.
“When I look in the mirror, no makeup no anything I was like what the hell was I waiting for!” Conley-Bacon said. “I am free.”
Shuler: What does that mean to you?
Conley-Bacon: To be bold, to show up as yourself each and every day.