By Calvin Harjono
Every morning I wake to the sound of my alarm screaming for me to get out of bed. Still half asleep, I crawl out of bed and begin my day with a brush and shave. Typically, a trim of the mustache or beard keeps the face tidy and presentable, but this isn’t my focus. Preparing the scalp for shaving requires two things: warm water to fully open up the pores and shaving cream for protection. After warming up the blade in the sink, I shave with the grain and then once more against the grain. This task has been incorporated into my daily routine for close to a year now.
Alopecia in the simplest definition means “to be without hair”, limited to the scalp, in alopecia areata, or the whole body, in alopecia universalis. Alopecia occurs when your immune system attacks hair follicles, leading to hair loss. I’ve been living with alopecia areata for close to 5 years now, with flares lasting up to a year. My personal symptoms are not as severe as some others, but due to its sporadic nature, it remains a constant concern.
I choose to be bald. My alopecia has left random areas of scalp hairless, leading to a tattered, mangy look. I shave my head to conform to society’s acceptable idea of an appearance, in hopes to limit unwanted attention and questioning. The extra attention and false empathy that I face hampers my confidence and self-esteem. Before my decision to become bald, I was frequently anxious of others’ negative perceptions of me due to my apparent condition.
Although I don’t mind shaving my head, I wish society wouldn’t necessitate it to feel un-judged. Recently, society has strived for diversity in gender and race, however its views on acceptable appearances have made little progress. I believe that others should be more welcoming towards aesthetic differences, especially if they are beyond one’s control. I hope for a future in which we don’t judge deviation from the norm, but rather appreciate and celebrate our differences.