Ten years ago, fashion designer Bianca Young was diagnosed with alopecia. The 42-year-old says her sudden loss of hair had a profound effect on her life, attacking what she could only describe as her “femininity.”
“I looked in the mirror and was mortified at what I saw looking back at me,” she wrote for News.com.au. “I no longer knew who I was.”
Struggling to accept her appearance, Young convinced herself that no one would ever love her. In her mind she was “flawed and undesirable” to men.
“As a single woman, I started to tell myself that I was doomed to be alone forever. Who could wake up beside a bald woman and think she was a catch? I didn’t have any hair,” she said.
There, at rock bottom, she decided something had to change. She pushed aside her fear of rejection and decided to try online dating. But first, Young figured if she was going to have any luck with love, she’d have to start treating herself differently.
“I was honest and positive, and as I [began to say] the words over and over again, ‘I have alopecia areata,’ it started feeling like it was a part of me — no longer foreign and surreal,” she said.
“In fact my Tinder profile reads ‘All photos are recent. I shave my head, I don’t have cancer, I have alopecia. I am at peace with who I am; if you aren’t, that’s OK, keep swiping, thanks for stopping by.'”
With those words, Young catapulted herself into a world of cyber romance.
“It sparked lots of questions but also took an interesting turn and taught me a lesson or two in self-love and expression. Some men were completely turned off by me not having hair. Some were shallow, even rude and hurtful. But I was also complimented for my courage and bravery.”
“Many people were empowered and inspired to talk to me, just to say hello. I ended up with friends and kind people to chat to and people who were genuinely interested in me in as a person. The rest just kept swiping by.”
The fashion designer may not have found her perfect match, but what the dating app helped her discover was invaluable.
“I am still single, so although my ‘dating experiment’ did not result in finding ‘the one,’ I learnt to love myself again. It gave me the space to experiment being the new me and helped me come to peace with my alopecia.”
With her newfound confidence, Young hopes to encourage others with the condition.
“I want people living with alopecia to be classed as normal and to be accepted. People’s reactions, comments, and stares were one of the hardest things to deal with during the early part of my alopecia journey.”
“I hope that my story will empower people in situations similar to me.”
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