In September we are celebrating Alopecia Awareness month! Alopecia is an incurable disease that affects many people around the world. We are proud to have Cosmetology student Amanda F. as part of student body and to share her story about speaking out, her own battle with the disease and how it lead her to find her passion in the professional beauty industry.
“In 2011 I was 19 and I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata. Within three months I had lost about 70% of my hair and I took a leap and shaved the rest. It has been almost six years since the initial hair loss and I now have total hair loss of my body (Alopecia Universalis). It was never easy for me to accept what was happening to my body, but from the beginning I have always been able to find a way to embrace it. Whether it was by wearing a wig during the transition or finally finding a comfortable place with head scarves I never hid the person I was and wanted to be behind the disorder.
One of my goals since the hair loss started was to spread awareness. Although timid at times, I always had an idea that I would sometime speak in front of a class or a school about Alopecia and how for the most part it has positively impacted my life. I found out I was pregnant just months after the initial diagnosis and since then I have dedicated myself to my daughter Lilah. I wanted to be home and be close to her while she was young, before she really started to explore herself and started becoming independent. I did however work in a salon part time as a receptionist. In a salon environment my baldness was very much exposed and had to greet and welcome women of all ages and backgrounds. I was able to talk, educate, and relate with women whom have also experienced hair loss. I showed others how I tied my scarf so they too could feel comforted the same way I did by it.
Now that Lilah is of preschool age, I decided (with a heavy heart) to leave my position as receptionist and pursue an education. Although I had already considered myself part of the beauty industry I had started to really concentrate on getting myself into a school and learning the art of hairdressing, that’s when I found Penrose Academy. A place created by a woman so powerful and inspiring, that I often find myself lying awake at night with thoughts like “Don’t be THAT person who has regrets” replaying over and over until I find myself doing things I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I wanted to do it for myself, for my daughter and for all of the women and young girls affected by something that falls short of your typical “beauty standards”.
I have always been an artist and I can’t imagine a world without being able to create. My hands are my tools, and from a young age I have been so passionate about using them in my career. For me to place myself responsible for someone else’s hair while lacking that myself, well it just means so much. I feel a sense of security while the blow dryer is on; I crave the sound of my shears against someone’s hair. Equally as important to me, I get to talk about my alopecia, spread awareness and hopefully help others experiencing hair loss.
Penrose Academy was a second chance for me, like the world was giving back to me for what I had lost. Being a part of the beauty industry lifts my soul. I not only get to be an artist, but I get to educate, inspire and connect with others. While I think many would look at losing your hair as a misfortune, I feel honored. I hope that I can inspire other women to love this weird, unexplainable, incurable disease the same way I do. Without a doubt, my alopecia is what drives and inspires me.”
-Amanda F. | Cosmetology Student