When people see you, their first thought is: “She either has cancer, or ringworm”. It’s alopecia. It’s okay. It is not contagious. I am not dying. I am fine. You are always cold when you don’t have your wig on. Everything gets in the eyes because you have no eyelashes. I don’t remember having any trouble until I was 12 years old. I had the most difficult experience when I was 17. There was a group of boys at my school. They created a group on social media and called it “Ms. Nugmanova is a bald bitch”. They thought I would be offended. Well, I was a little bit. But I knew it didn’t have anything to do with me.
It didn’t mean that I was a bad person. It was hard to accept myself. But luckily, I feel happy now. If I could give advice to my younger self, I would have said: “Please allow yourself to have fun. And stop worrying about your wig falling off”. I remember how scared I was of swimming and diving. Same with having sex. If your wig falls off during sex and your partner didn’t know you were wearing a wig, it can be shocking to them. My wig used to serve as my defence. Now, it’s my favourite toy. I can use it sometimes. But I’m fine without it. To be honest, I didn’t even know what my condition was until 5 years ago. I just thought I was bald. And I thought I was the only one. I don’t think my condition should be a problem for society or for myself. Of course, people that don’t know about alopecia do get scared of me. Sometimes people can be rude. They can say: “You don’t look as nice with hair. You look more charismatic without it”. Well, it’s kind of a compliment, too. I can’t blame people for not knowing how to compliment me. It is still nice. Thank God, my Mum never told me about her fears. But I know that parents of children with alopecia are afraid that their daughters won’t be able to get married or get a good job. They are afraid that their sons would be bullied and won’t be respected as leaders. Sometimes parents try to “cure” it and choose the methods that give me chills. Even my parents tried it. We tried laser procedures and peelings that burn the scalp skin. We injected hormones that can affect children’s health. Please don’t do that. It usually helps parents when they meet me. They see that I am a healthy, successful woman with a career and a family. When you are alone, you are not aware of other ways to deal with it. Parents usually have one solution: to wear a wig all your life or to be bald forever. When you meet other people with alopecia, you realise that there are many ways to cope. Some people wear wigs, some don’t, some use makeup, some don’t, some wear scarfs, some don’t. Everyone does what feels right for them. The crucial thing is that you don’t have to be alone. It’s worth seeing specialists, talking to doctors, or maybe joining a support group where people who managed to overcome these difficulties can give you advice.