By: Franchesca Bass
I am extremely excited to start blogging regularly and really getting to know you guys! Whether you are fellow alopecians, dealing with some sort of hair loss, or maybe you are learning how to deal with a loved one’s hair loss. I am here for you. I feel like I’ve typed my own story a million times, so I’ll make it short.
I was told I had alopecia areata (only small spots of hair fell out) when I was in 1st grade. In 5th grade it turned into alopecia totalis, the loss of all hair on my head. I am truly grateful for my parents throughout the whole process. From the moment we learned what alopecia was they were supportive, and not for a second did they make me feel like I had something terribly wrong with me. They were strong, calm, and treated me like everyone else. Through their reaction I felt exactly that way, the same as everybody else. I wasn’t sick, I was just different. I couldn’t bear seeing them upset over me being upset. I felt like the same Fran on the inside; I didn’t want to be treated different. Hair is just an accessory. I took that to heart and never let that go. Hair or no hair I am happy. After that we all let it go and lived our lives.
When I was 18 I moved to LA to pursue my career as a professional dancer. Having no hair set me a part from other dancers, and honestly I loved it. Having alopecia is a part of who I am. I’ve not only learned to accept it but make the best out of my hair loss. I wrote a small excerpt in a book called Head on Stories of Alopecia a few years back. When it came time for the book signing it was in LA so I was lucky enough to go and meet the creator of the book at an alopecia convention. While at the convention I met a man named Michael Leigh, owner of Joli Cameleon, and he was looking for a dancer for his next campaign. He told me their wigs were designed for dancers with alopecia, no glue or tape needed. Although I had never worn a wig before I was excited to be a part of something for the alopecian community. A few months later, I met up with Michael and his team for our first shoot. They had a hair and makeup crew at the space to draw on eyebrows, eyelashes, and make sure my hair looked perfect. I had gone 20 years with no hair so you can imagine what it was like to look in a mirror when they had finished. I was so used to having no hair that having hair honestly felt strange. The photoshoot went wonderfully and I absolutely loved everyone at Joli Cameleon. Michael asked me to continue working with them and 2 years later I am happily still apart of their team. After the shoot I received my first wig ever.
It wasn’t until 5 months later that I actually tried to wear it out. My sister from Indiana came to visit and told me she thought it would be fun to do my makeup ourselves and see we what it would be like. After all I had this beautiful wig and the option of hair or no hair whenever I wanted. Why wouldn’t I take advantage that opportunity? We did my makeup and for the first time I went out in public with hair. I felt weird, I felt like everyone knew I was wearing a wig, I felt like everyone was staring. It was cool though, it was new and I really did love it. Slowly but surely I started to wear my wigs more often than not. I got better at making my eyebrows look real and I found eyelashes that I loved. It was a new hobby. After all hair is just an accessory. Two years later and I wear my wig everyday. I still accept my alopecia and am more than okay with having no hair. At this point in my life I feel most confident in my wigs, and thats ok. Do what makes you feel your most confident. Whether that’s wearing no makeup, a ton of makeup, fake eyelashes, extensions, a wig, no wig, the list goes on and on. Just because I wear a wig doesn’t make me any less powerful or brave than those who don’t. It makes me equally as strong. Doing what I want because it is my choice and not letting what others say change my actions. This is my journey that will keep continuing, and I hope to have you guys with me while I do so. The one constant of my journey will always be that hair is an accessory. Hair does not make us who we are. In my next blog I will be talking about what it has been like to wear wigs for the first time and how Joli Cameleon has made it an amazing experience. If you have any questions you want answered comment below I will write about them!