Photo credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC | 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
NBC's hit drama TV series, 'This Is Us,' is known for its ability to take you on an emotional journey and shine a light on topics that are generally tough for most families to digest. They've thoughtfully addressed divorce, drug abuse and adoption, and in one recent episode they tackled alopecia and the intricacies of natural hair. In this specific episode, our favorite character, Beth Pearson, discussed the importance of self-care and how to properly care for your natural hair, especially when dealing with hair loss, a taboo topic for most people but particularly in the African-American community.
Deja, played by Lyric Ross, is Randall and Beth Pearson's adopted daughter (temporarily) who is going through a rough time in her life. Her mother is in jail and she is living with the Pearsons, slowly adjusting to their way of life. During the episode, she refused to wash her hair for two weeks when Beth noticed an odor. After being insulted by a girl at the bowling alley, Deja finally decides to ask Beth to do it. As Beth brushes through her hair she notices a handful of bald spots. Deja acknowledges them, admitting that her condition gets worse in times of stress. Beth comforts her by sharing personal hair stories, and lets her know her sister has alopecia. Beth offers to braid Deja's hair to hide her bald spots.
Eyes immediately swell up and slows claps
Why is this topic so important?
I applaud 'This Is Us' for bringing this story to light in such an authentic way that reminds us the importance of creating an informative yet genuine dialogue around sensitive topics like alopecia. Most women feel too embarrassed to share their experience with alopecia with others, let alone seek treatment. We all know a Deja or Beth, and I appreciate how well they explored this topic, especially since it's common amongst African-American women. Being that Deja is a teenager, it's a widely-held belief that hair loss and thinning is an issue that only affects older people, which is not true. While half of all women over fifty experience hair loss due to hormonal causes, men and women of any age can suffer from hair loss as early as their mid-20's.
What is Alopecia?
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, or NAAF, "Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune skin disease, causing hair loss on the scalp, face and sometimes on other areas of the body. In fact, it affects as many as 6.8 million people in the U.S." What's more interesting is that according to research by Johns Hopkins Medicine, one third of African-American women suffer from traction alopecia with a strong connection to scalp pulling hairstyles. What may be most concerning is that the majority of these women do not seek consultations or guidance.
Want to Learn More?
If you're experiencing hair loss or thinning, understand that you are not alone. There's no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed about seeking guidance and taking the proper steps in order to gain more education about this condition. Here at NaturallyCurly, we want to continue providing a safe space to share resources and information to learn more about alopecia and the importance of seeking guidance. If you're experiencing hair loss and are in need of some support, check out these articles below: