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Bold to be bald!

 Bold to be Bald!

Matylda was born in a small town in Poland and moved to Los Angeles, CA with her mom at the age of 10. “I was always very social, had tons of friends and loved to play sports. I adapted quickly to my new life in the US.” But things changed when at 12 years old she 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 though it would go away.” It would take almost 2 years for Matylda to be diagnosed with Alopecia, by then she had lost all her hair. “I thought the hardest part was not knowing what it was. Not having a diagnosis. But after finding out it was alopecia it wasn’t any easier. I had a name for it but still don’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 the body to start attacking its hair. “My body thinks my hair is a foreign object, something it has to get rid of.” Matylda explains. “Other than that I’m perfectly healthy!”. There are no other symptoms to alopecia other than hair loss. Either in small areas on the head, called alopecia aerata, full hair loss on the head - alopecia totalis, or hair loss all over the body - alopecia universalis. And because it’s just hair, no one gets sick or dies from alopecia, there is not much funding or research that goes into understanding what causes it or finding a treatment. About 2% of the world population has alopecia. “It’s pretty rare. Which is why people just don’t know about it. This make it harder to go out without a wig because the first thing people think when they see a bald woman is cancer.” 

That’s the real struggle in having alopecia, as Matylda explains: “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. A wig was donated to me from Locks of Love - an amazing organization that provides hair for children dealing with hair loss, free of charge. 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”. 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. So although I was able to hide it fine enough, it still affected almost every part of my life. Hiding it just created a different set of challenges.”

So what made you want to finally open up about it? “One day I just realized that I was sacrificing so much of myself by not being open about this. 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 hair. I stopped doing sports a long time ago and many other things I enjoyed when I developed alopecia. I’m finally going to learn how to surf! I am not going to let it hold me back any more.”

Is there anything else? “I have been so 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 though this. I want to contribute to that. I hope that my story inspires someone else who is struggling 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!” 

What advice do you have for others struggling with this? “At the end of the day we all have our struggles, and whatever your journey just make it a great one! I can tell you from 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!” 

 

Matylda still resides in Los Angeles, continues to model and credits Jeana Turner (America’s Next Top Model) as her inspiration for opening up publicly as a model with alopecia. Currently, Matylda has alopecia universalis, the rarest form of the condition. Her goal is to bring awareness and inspire and connect with others that have alopecia. You may follow her on Instagram @matys_world or contact her by email at reachmatylda@gmail.com.