22 Year Old Alopecia Areata Spokeswoman: Abby Andrew

by Kevin Rands | February 9, 2017 11:34 pm

We’d like to introduce to you Abby Andrew – a charming 22 year old who has tackled her Alopecia Areata since childhood.  She has been kind enough to let us “feature” her in the HairLossTalk Newsletter as she continues to put out great video content.  She has a YouTube Channel[1] (which you should subscribe to) where she talks about living with Alopecia, and reviews numerous solutions for Alopecia Areata sufferers, including wigs.

This video is from back in September but we selected it along with Abby as a good introduction to who she is, and what she’s all about.  We have transcribed the text from the video below as well.  If you know anyone with Alopecia Areata or someone who is struggling with coping, we hope you’ll point them to her channel for support and advice.

Abby Andrew:  Alopecia Awareness Month

Hey guys.  Today i wanted to make a quick video of Alopecia Awareness Month, which is September, in case you didn’t know that.  I always thought the first video I made without a wig at all would be scary.  I thought that I’d have to force myself to do it.  I thought I’d be really nervous.  I’m nervous in a meta way, if that makes sense, but at the same time I don’t think I’m going to be nervous to post this.  I’m feeling oddly confident today which is nice.

Having Confidence with Alopecia

I don’t always feel this confident, but even on most days lately I’ve just been feeling more and more confident about talking about Alopecia, changing wigs, so much more in just the past couple months than I have in my whole life.  Which is such a great feeling.  Obviously you guys know I have a YouTube Channel about Alopecia so I always talk about it.  But less often do I actually put myself out there without a wig. So this can be a little bit new for me. But again, its kind of weird how today making this video doesn’t feel as scary as I thought my first video without a wig at all, would feel.

So this is what my hair looks like naturally:

Abby Andrew Alopecia Areata

This is Alopecia Areata

This is Alopecia.  And in case you don’t know much about Alopecia there are three types.  I think this is kind of a misconception some people have.  That if you have Alopecia, you have no hair at all.  Which for some people is true.  That’s actually a type of Alopecia called Alopecia Universalis.  That means you have no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes, and nothing on your head at all.

What is Alopecia Areata?

But I have a type of Alopecia called Alopecia Areata, which means that you only have patches missing.  Which can range from a small little patch which you can cover easily, to something like this, where most of its missing, but you still have patches of hair.

So as you can see most of my hair is missing.  As well as obviously I’m wearing fake lashes, but most of my lashes are missing.  Some are there.  Most of the bottom lashes.  And some of my eyebrows.  My eyebrows have actually been doing well lately, which is cool.  They’ve been fuller than they’ve been in a long time.  But obviously I’m still wearing brow stuff on top of them as well.  So this is what my natural hair looks like.

Alopecia Awareness Month

Alopecia Awareness Month

I wanted to do a really quick video in honor of Alopecia Awareness Month.  And kind of just name a couple misconceptions that some people have if you aren’t familiar with Alopecia.  For one thing, there’s not really a known cause for Alopecia, which causes the most amount of stress I think for people with Alopecia.  Because there also is no known cure.  And usually what medical professionals will attribute it to is stress.  Which could mean anything.  It could mean mental stress.  It could mean stress in your life – subconscious or conscious stress, so that doesn’t really answer anything.

What’s it like having Alopecia Areata?

Mind you, I got Alopecia when I was like two.  So how stressed out can a two-year-old be?  So it is very frustrating to not really know a cause, and to not really know a cure.  It’s not genetic.  Sometimes it’s genetic.  Certain types are.  But noone in my family has Alopecia so its very random, and that’s what can cause a lot of people stress.

Its also very unpredictable. And that’s another misconception.  Some people believe that if you get Alopecia your hair can never grow back. And it actually can.  Especially if you have Areata, it fluctuates all the time, which is also frustrating.  Because 2 years ago for example I had almost full eyelashes, and now I really don’t.  But at the same time when I had full eyelashes, I had less brows and now I have fuller brows and less eyelashes.  So its just very random and all over the place.  It doesn’t really make any logical sense.

Coping with Alopecia Areata – Give Yourself Time

Which is why over the last couple of years I’ve been slowly taking the approach of – trying to let go.  Trying to stop feeling like I want to control it, because I can’t control it.  And I think that once someone with alopecia accepts that you can’t control your hair loss, I think it’s the most freeing thing, because you don’t have control over your hair falling out, but you do have control over how much you’re going to let it impact you.  It doesn’t have to ruin your life.

Abby Andrew Alopecia Areata

It doesn’t have to ruin your life.

That’s something I always tell people.  That Alopecia will impact you as much as you let it.  You can be devastated, and of course, be sad for a little while if you feel you need to do that to cope, but don’t get stuck in that place.  Just let yourself slowly adjust.  If you want to – I think its really powerful if you can go without a wig entirely.  Wigs are totally fun and I think they’re beautiful.  Obviously I wear them all the time. But if you can go without a wig, I think that’s such a cool thing. But if you’re not ready to do that, then just think about how much fun you could have with wigs.

Lately I’ve been changing my wigs almost every day, going to class.  In the past when I would change a wig and go to class, I would be so nervous.  My heart would be racing on the way just imagining people asking me questions.  Now I do it, and I almost think its funny when people are like “Wait … is that the same person?”

Now I can laugh at it, whereas in the past I used to be nervous.  Gaining this level of confidence took time.  But you have to be patient with yourself, and give yourself time.  Yeah maybe it won’t be easy to just walk out the door without a wig, or even a different wig right away.  But just give yourself time to adjust and eventually your confidence will just keep growing, the more you challenge yourself.

In Honor of Alopecia Awareness Month

I wanted to keep this video really really short and make it in honor of Alopecia Awareness Month.  Because its just an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up.  September is already half over and I kept putting this off.  I’m kind of glad I kept putting it off because if I made it earlier in the month I probably would’ve just done like a very basic video, and I think it’s more powerful to do it without a wig at all.  Because I’m telling you guys what Alopecia is, but if I’m wearing a wig, you can’t actually see the symptoms.  And these are the symptoms.

Alopecia Areata Thin Hair

The hair I do have is very thin, and it’s short just because I shaved my head about 2 months ago, but the hair that I do have actually grows very consistently, which can be annoying in a way, because obviously no matter how much this grows, it’s not going to be enough to cover my whole head and my bald spots.  So at the same time I still have to keep this trimmed, whereas on the rest of my head it doesn’t grow.  So its really weird, but its kind of funny in a way.

Difficulty Connecting with Others who have Alopecia

Something else I wanted to talk about in this video is how – the weirdest thing in Alopecia is that it’s very hard to connect with people in real life who have Alopecia.  Because first of all its a very rare condition.  I think that about 0.01% of the population or something really small like that has Alopecia.

So for one thing – you may not even encounter people with Alopecia in your day to day life – you’re unlikely to.  And at the same time, something that kind of puzzles me is that – even if you do encounter someone with Alopecia, you may not even realize it at times.  Because a lot of people with Alopecia work so hard to cover it.  They get nice wigs, and head scarves.

So even if you encounter someone with Alopecia, sometimes you may not even be able to tell they have hair loss, because they do wear wigs.

Which is good that we have these options to wear wigs.  But its also kind of sad because you miss that opportunity connect with the person on something that’s hard to connect with people on.

And another thing – an experience that I actually had last night – I was at a bar in my town with a couple friends, and there was this girl standing right next to me with a completely bald head.  And I spent like 10 minutes considering – should I say something to her?  I was wearing a wig so maybe she didn’t know that I had hair loss, but I just kept looking at her thinking I should ask her if she has Alopecia and talk to her about it.  Because clearly she had more confidence with her hair loss than I did, and I thought that was really bad-ass.

But at the same time I was almost nervous to ask her if she had Alopecia because I was nervous she would say “Oh no, I have cancer” and I wouldn’t know how to react to that.  Which again, I don’t know why I got so nervous, if that even was the case because … obviously if she doesn’t wear a wig she must be used to answering people’s questions.  But at the same time, I know from personal experience how annoying and invasive questions can feel sometimes.  I didn’t want to put her in that position.

Approaching Someone with Alopecia

I didn’t want to put her in that position…

Talking to Someone Who Has Alopecia

Thats the other reason it’s difficult to connect with people in real life with Alopecia.  Because when you see a person, you don’t know where they’re at.  I never want to call somebody out for having Alopecia if they’re not ready to talk about it.  And again… just from looking at her, she seemed like she had more confidence than I have because she wasn’t wearing wigs at all, and that’s something that I’m still nervous about doing.  But I still didn’t want to put her in an uncomfortable position.

So those are just my thoughts on Alopecia in general that I wanted to include in this video for Alopecia Awareness Month.  Thank you guys so much for watching this video.  I hope that you found it informative if you didn’t know much about Alopecia before.  And if you do have Alopecia, I hope that you enjoyed this as far as connecting with someone who can share similar experiences.

And if you follow my channel[2] regularly, then you know I make a lot of videos talking about Alopecia.  But again, this is my first one that I’ve actually made not wearing a wig at all.  So its … I don’t know … exciting.  I’m more excited to post this than I am nervous.  Which is a really cool feeling that I can be excited to share my side of the story now, instead of being terrified.

I’ll never forget when I used to be so insecure about it that I could not say the word Alopecia without tearing up.  And now I’m tearing up just slightly because I’m getting sentimental about just how far I’ve come.  And it makes me proud I guess.  Not even proud.  I just feel so free.

Tearing Up

I used to be so insecure about it that I couldn’t say the word Alopecia without tearing up.

And I want anyone else out there who’s still afraid to talk about Alopecia, I want you to know that you can become confident about it, like I have.  And it’s taken me so much time.  And that I’m making a video soon just telling you just how much time it’s taken me to get here, and what steps I took.

For now I just want you to have faith and know that you’re not alone, and that you can still have an awesome life with Alopecia.  And it doesn’t have to hold you back.  So that’s basically what I wanted to say in this video.

Subscribe[3] if you want to watch more videos about me – I hope you guys enjoyed.  I will see you in the next video.

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  1. YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBgZLQ8xh3LYMPAeP1mBpug
  2. channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBgZLQ8xh3LYMPAeP1mBpug
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