Bold to be bald!
Meet Matylda, the amazing and courageous woman who is sharing her story for the first time. Matylda has alopecia since the age of 12, a rare condition that left her with no hair on her body. She has hidden it for most of her life, but finally, she’s embracing change: Matylda is ready to have the world see her without hair and free herself of the safety blanket that took her hostage for way too long. Now, her goal is to bring awareness and inspire others who have alopecia to do the same. Here is her story:
I was born in Krosno Odrz, a small town in Poland near the German border. I moved to Los Angeles when I was 10 years old. I was always very social, had tons of friends and loved to play sports. I adapted quickly and was excited about my new life in the US. But things changed when at 12 years old I noticed clumps of hair in the shower drain. I had long blonde hair down to my waist when my mom first found a couple bald spots. I was too young to understand what was happening, I just thought it would go away. It took almost two years for me to be diagnosed with alopecia, and by then I had lost all my hair. Before receiving my diagnosis, I thought the hardest part was not knowing what was causing it. But after finding out it was alopecia it wasn’t any easier. I now had a name for it but still didn’t know why it happened or how to cure it.
Alopecia is an auto-immune condition, but not much else is known about it. Something triggers my body to start attacking my hair. It thinks my hair is a foreign object, something it has to get rid of. Other than that I’m perfectly healthy. There are no other symptoms to alopecia other than hair loss. And because it’s just hair, no one gets sick or dies from alopecia, there is not much funding for research to understand what causes it or finding a treatment. As it is a very rare condition, people just don’t know about it. That makes it harder for me to go out without a wig because the first thing people think when they see a bald woman is cancer.
I really struggled emotionally for a long, long time. I felt very alone and did all I could to hide the condition and try to lead a normal life. My first wig was donated to me from Locks of Love - an amazing organization that provides hair for children dealing with hair loss. I just didn’t want anyone to know, or to have to explain why I don’t have hair. I didn’t want to be known as the alopecia girl, or the bald girl, I just wanted to be “normal”. I stopped doing sports and many other things I used to enjoy. Even when I started modeling I would be creative in hiding it, or simply not book jobs that would expose that I don’t have hair. Although I became a master of disguise, it still affected almost every part of my life. Hiding it just created a whole different set of challenges.
One day I just realized that I was sacrificing so much of myself by keeping my condition my dark secret. I have been very inspired by other people with alopecia being open about it and embracing it. Social media has been amazing in helping me connect with others, hearing their stories, struggles, and triumphs and not feeling all alone going through this. Jeana Turner, a model with alopecia featured in America’s Next Top Model, was my inspiration for opening up publicly about my alopecia.
Now, I feel much more connected and empowered. I’m not just a bald girl - there is so much more to me - but I am A bald girl! I don’t want to have to hide that part of myself anymore. I just want to be uniquely me, in every way. Sometimes I wear makeup, sometimes I don’t. Well, sometimes I don’t want to wear my wig. I am not going to let this condition hold me back any more. I’m finally going to learn how to surf, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time!
I hope that my story inspires others who struggle to embrace their alopecia. Our differences should be celebrated, not hidden or changed to fit some kind of mold. That’s boring! These days there are models with alopecia, models with vitiligo, plus size model, trans models, disabled models, etc. It’s truly inspiring.
At the end of the day we all have our challenges, and whatever your journey may be just make it a great one! I can tell you from my experience that the longer you hide, the harder it becomes to open up and you end up cheating yourself. When you can’t be 100% yourself, you are not living your best life. Whether it’s alopecia or something else, just be bold and let the world experience the whole you!