Woman shares stunning self-portrait to document her journey with alopecia

To mark Alopecia

 Awareness Month, one woman has taken to social media to share her experiences of living with the condition to educate others.

Brittany Myers, a photographer who is now 33, was diagnosed with alopecia – a condition that causes the hair to fall out – when she was just seven years old, and since then has had to face her biggest fear of losing all her hair.

I’ve never been too vocal about #alopecia. Those that know me know why I am bald, but I don’t often talk about it in a public forum. I guess the reason, really, is that I have never wanted it to define me, and I still don’t, but sometimes talking about it can be cathartic for me, and maybe someone else out there too. And this month, I’ve been told, is #alopeciaawareness month, so I figured this was as good of a time as any to say a little something. . Alopecia is hair loss caused by an immune system mix-up. Simple as that. It’s not a sickness. It’s not caused by stress. It’s simply a function of the body that we have no control over. We’ve all got something, alopecia just happens to be more obvious because it’s on the outside. While it’s not life threatening, it can be life altering, especially for those who didn’t grow up #bald. . My journey with it began… (continue reading at link in bio and fb) . Photo by my dear friend @jameschororos

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Sharing a self portrait to her photography Instagram account, she captioned the post: ‘I’ve never been too vocal about #alopecia. Those that know me know why I am bald, but I don’t often talk about it in a public forum. I guess the reason, really, is that I have never wanted it to define me, and I still don’t, but sometimes talking about it can be cathartic for me, and maybe someone else out there too.’

‘Alopecia is hair loss caused by an immune system mix-up. Simple as that. It’s not a sickness. It’s not caused by stress. It’s simply a function of the body that we have no control over. We’ve all got something, alopecia just happens to be more obvious because it’s on the outside.’

Speaking to Yahoo Beauty, Brittany explained that finally losing all of hair at the age of 26 has redefined her idea of what is beautiful.

Take a seat kids it's story time… "Do you have cancer?" is usually one of the first questions out of a stranger's mouth. Whether it's a parking lot or the grocery store or wherever. I've gotten good at responding. I usually smile and shake my head "no" and explain to them that I lost my hair due to an autoimmune disorder called alopecia universalis. Back in June of 2016, while finishing up my freshman year of college, I was missing about 70% of the hair on my head and body. I still remember the day I walked into my dad's office (who also has alopecia) and told him that I wanted to shave my head. I was sick of feeling hopeless every time I ran my fingers through my thinning long brown hair and was reminded of my disease by the clumps of hair I held in my palms. I was tired of cortisone injections and last ditch efforts to prevent my hair loss and had accepted the fact that I was born to be bald. In July, I threw my "Going Bald" party and invited some of my friends and family. My mom went first, since she had promised me when I was diagnosed at age 5 that she would shave her head in solidarity if I ever lost my hair. My sisters and friends then took turns shaving the few remaining patches of hair on my head before I was finally handed a mirror to see what they had done. All I remember was a feeling of pure relief. Being bald hasn't always been easy. I've questioned my self-worth and fixated on other people's opinions way more than I should've. I've learned that not everyone is as accepting and that not all people are able to look past the fact that I have no hair – but that's okay. As I look back on the last 14 months, I think about how lucky I am to have such loving and supportive family, friends, and boyfriend by my side the past two years. Thank you for putting up with my endless bald jokes and for having my back always. For those who've made it this far, if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with #alopecia of any kind, please don't hesitate to reach out. I know not everyone is lucky enough to be surrounded by people who understand what they're going through. Anyway, happy #AlopeciaAwarenessMonth 🙂

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‘Back then, I never imagined it wouldn’t grow back,’ she says, ‘but I’ve been bald ever since.’

‘It helped me begin to see the complex beauty in the baldness, in the challenge of it all, and finding that comfort over time helped me to shift focus away from alopecia and baldness.’

And Brittany isn’t the only one who’s used the month to share her story and raise awareness; many other women are also taking to the photo-sharing site to proudly show off their bald heads and detail their inspiring stories in the captions.

This little ballerina is my reason for this alopecia awareness journey. What an inspiration she is!! Let's create a world we're there's more understanding and acceptance of everyone! • Preschool age children are so busy exploring the world, learning new skills, and becoming more independent, that they don’t pay much attention to their own physical appearance, or the differences they may have from others their age. • For this reason, children under five years old who have alopecia areata don’t usually experience as much of an emotional impact from their condition. They may see their own hair loss as something interesting, but not much more. And their friends at this age aren’t likely to notice, either. • By the time a child is six years old, they’ve begun to interact with more people of all ages and have gained enough experience in the world to start noticing the differences between themselves and others. Between the ages of six and 12, children become much more aware of how others think and feel and they may begin to focus on how others see them, or how their condition may make them seem different from their friends. (naaf.org) • #alopecia #alopeciaawareness #nohairdontcare #baldisbeaitiful (📷: @oathandstone)

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One woman, from the National Alopecia Areata Foundation in St Vincent, USA, wrote: ‘Being bald hasn’t always been easy. I’ve questioned my self-worth and fixated on other people’s opinions way more than I should’ve.’

She continued: ‘I’ve learned that not everyone is as accepting and that not all people are able to look past the fact that I have no hair – but that’s okay. As I look back on the last 14 months, I think about how lucky I am to have such loving and supportive family, friends, and boyfriend by my side the past two years. Thank you for putting up with my endless bald jokes and for having my back always.’

Another shared an image of her little girl in an adorable ballet tutu, admiring her reflection in a mirror.

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‘This little ballerina is my reason for this alopecia awareness journey. What an inspiration she is!!’ she wrote.

‘Let’s create a world we’re there’s more understanding and acceptance of everyone! Preschool age children are so busy exploring the world, learning new skills, and becoming more independent, that they don’t pay much attention to their own physical appearance, or the differences they may have from others their age.’