My name is Georgia Gardner. I’m seventeen years old and I’ve had Alopecia Areata since I was four. George Orwell once said that happiness can only exist in acceptance. I tend to agree with him. What he forgot to mention is that acceptance, like happiness, is not a moment or event, but a process.
In my thirteen years with this condition, I’ve experienced it in almost all forms. Within eighteen months of finding my first small patch I had lost most of my eyebrows and eyelashes. Losing your hair at four is much less stressful than when you’re older and can actually understand what is happening.
I didn’t get bullied too much during primary school. I was a very loud and confident child, which I think helped. In one encounter with the school bully, she yelled “Look at Georgia’s bald head” at me after class one day. I only yelled back – “Look at your fat mouth”. She didn’t bother me again.
Losing your hair at four is much less stressful than when you’re older and can actually understand what is happening. When my hair fell out again I was left with small patches at the back and sides, which I became very self-conscious about. I still have them, and I still really hate them.
Strangely, one of the things that started me on the road to acceptance was a job at a local bakery. After three years with my wig, I still wasn’t very good at putting it up, so I made the decision to wear a long headscarf. After working for six months with no serious events, I realised something that has helped me a lot in dealing with my alopecia areata. In general, other people don’t care. With this in mind, I joined my local karate club with a plan to train in my headscarf.
Two years later, I still train in my headscarf. I even won third place earlier this year at the International Sport Karate Association World Cup wearing my scarf. But I know that I can choose to go without any time I want. I still have my wigs and like them a lot, but I don’t feel obliged to wear them. I can’t say that I’m totally, 100% okay with my alopecia, but I celebrate the process of accepting it. I think little moments, from going to the letterbox to going to the beach without head covering, are the great victories, even if you aren’t ready to go without covering full time.
I’m planning to go to uni soon, and think that I’ll use the opportunity to try going out socially without my wig or scarves. I have never believed the people who would have us think alopecia areata is a disability. There is nothing in the world I can’t do because of alopecia areata. I have plans for a very full, very fun, very bald life.
Youth Q & A