I had written this speech over 2 years ago for an Alopecia event that was later cancelled. So I thought that I should write it here.
The title for the speech is, How losing your hair can be the path to finding your best life.
You don’t get to have your own hair, but you do get to have your own back.
I am the Alopecia Empress and it has catapulted me into my best life. When I say that, I mean that alopecia has elevated me into the queendom of my life.
But oh my God, it did not start out that way. And if I’m being honest, brushing up against alopecia was not the first time I judged my body for the way it looked. And my guess is, for all the woman with alopecia, that you were judging yourself in the mirror long before your hair fell out.
Make no mistake about it, alopecia isn’t the problem, if we let if, it will be the cure for self-judgement. Cause there’s nothing like having a bald spot or bald head to make sure that once and for all, the standard of your beauty is not going to be solely based on how you look.
When I was 5 or 6 years old, I had a little pot belly. The other girls had a flat stomach, and I wanted that too. Mine stuck out, and that made me different. And that childhood belief, that I needed to look a certain way to be accepted, grew into an eating disorder. By middle school, my relationship with food was unhealthy, fast forward to college and that’s when things really got out of balance. Now imagine, as a nurse, years later, how I felt like a fraud for telling my patients to eat well, when I knew that I was binging and starving myself, or as we call it in our culture, dieting.
One day I had had enough and I decided I was going to heal my relationship with food, which really was about healing the way I view myself. It didn’t happen overnight, but over the course of 3 years, I loved myself back into acceptance. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s when I stopped dieting and started recognizing my value and I lost 50 pounds without dieting.
So here I am feeling great. Pretty sure that I mastered this whole self-love thing, when my hair dresser points out a bald spot on my head. She was about to start coloring my hair and then she asked what was this. She showed me a bald spot on my head. I hadn’t noticed it before. I then did the thing that I tell my patients not to do. Sitting in the hair dresser’s chair, I searched the internet and self diagnosed myself. I got on Facebook and joined some alopecia support groups. I was freaking out. I didn’t want to lose my hair. I didn’t want to have to wear wigs. I didn’t want to be bald. The Facebook groups were very depressing and not making me feel any better. There were very little positive posts.
Thank God I have a life coach. I had a talk with her and she talked me off the ledge. I would wait until I had seen the doctor and dermatologist so they could make the diagnosis. I went to both doctors and it turns out they diagnosed me with alopecia areata. I was concerned because there was no cure. The doctor wanted me to start with the steroid injections on the first visit. Yes, I’m a nurse but I hate needles. The doctor said it would take 10 injections for my spot. I declined the shots but the doctor prescribed me a steroid cream.
Raise your hand if you have ever looked in the mirror and wished some part of you looked different than it does. Keep your hands up and look around the room. See all of these amazing women and how they have had moments or lifetimes of not being able to see their magnificence.
We have a job to do. We get to redefine what beauty is for women. And we’re gonna do it together.
So first things first, let’s go over 3 mindsets that elevate a woman with alopecia from self judgement to magnificence:
1.People who struggle are often locked in a comparison game. They feel less than. The truth is you felt less than before the alopecia. People who thrive with alopecia stop hiding and stop comparing themselves to others.
2. People who thrive with alopecia have a belief that things will work out even if they don’t know how. For example, I wanted to be a public speaker. I didn’t know what to talk about. When you get alopecia, you suddenly have something to talk about. Not the path that I would have picked for myself, but I have to say, I am really happy to be here now in this conversation with other brave and resilient women.
3. People who thrive with alopecia choose compassion. They accept that while they might not have their own hair, they can finally have their own backs. It’s ok to ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean that you are weak, it means that you are strong enough to recognize that you needed help. Going to therapy may be what is needed.
Now I know that I said there are 3 things, but truthfully there are 4. The fourth is that women who thrive while having alopecia unite. They form a tribe. They cultivate sisterhood and friendships that will have their own backs.
Do not leave this event today, without swapping emails or social media accounts, or phone numbers with at least one other women you want in your tribe.
And to make that really easy, my website is http://www.alopeciaempress.com. We can schedule a time in my calendar for you and I to talk one on one for a private alopecia Breakthrough Session. During this session we will do one main thing, we will uncover what is sabotaging your joy and confidence and then we will replace it with an hones knowing of what you are capable of moving forward.
We are in this together. We will set the new standard for what beauty is, because I can see a day, where little girls and grown ass women no longer stand in front of the mirror and each other and wish they were different. I can see a day when we know our strengths and rise together.
Alopecia you tried it!
You tried to take my identity, my beauty, and confidence.
You taught me a valuable lesson and for that I’m grateful.
My beauty, identity, and confidence isn’t in my hair, It’s inside of me.
It’s my soul. My soul is where my beauty, identity, and confidence is.
Alopecia you can’t ever touch that.
I am grateful that you showed up because I wouldn’t have known that anything was going on with my body.
I get to define my beauty, my identity, and my confidence.
No one else or a disease can define that.
A: Always been beautiful.
L: Love myself.
O: Only I can define my beauty, my identity, and my confidence.
P: Perfectly imperfect.
C: Confidence is inside not on my head.
I: I can never lose my worth.
A: Alopecia can’t beat me.
Shavawn Boyer the Alopecia Empress
Hopefully one day soon, I will tape myself doing this speech and wearing the formal dress that I was supposed to wear for the event. It’s been hanging in my closet for 2 years now.