I had an inquiry come in off my website one day from Erin, she had come across my work seemingly at random and wanted to book a session for herself. When we started discussing a photo shoot for Erin she told me that she has alopecia, and I’ll admit I needed the help of google to understand (she describes it below) The more we talked the more evident it was that she wanted to create portraits that would truly embrace her look. I didn’t realize until a day or so before our session how symbolic and beautiful the role of this shoot was in her journey. I asked Erin if she would share her story…
All my life I was known for my beautiful red curls. My hair was my most unique and prized physical feature. Three years ago when my hair suddenly fell out, I was totally shocked. It turns out that I have an autoimmune condition called Alopecia, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair and causes it to fall out. I was devastated. I had never even heard of Alopecia before. I was uncomfortable in my own skin and confused about who I was without my hair. I knew deep down that the loss of my hair was an opportunity to do some soul searching and that I would have to work hard at rediscovering my true self.
I coped with the condition by wearing a wig most of the time. As the years passed, however, I felt less and less like myself with the wig on. I immersed myself in a counseling program and gradually took steps that supported me to “show up” in the world without it. I started to accept myself in new ways and I noticed a shift my perception.
I have now come to a place in my journey where I feel comfortable, confident, and beautiful in my own skin again. Through my condition, I have discovered many blessings and have come to embrace and celebrate myself. It has allowed me to reconnect authentically, take risks for personal growth, and bring myself fully and openly to all of my relationships. In losing my hair, I actually found myself!
As a teacher, my final step was to reveal my Alopecia to my school community. It was important for me to share this part of my life with my students because I wanted to model being honest and authentic with them as well. Just recently, I shared my story with the school and was received with incredible warmth and compassion. The students encouraged me to be the “real me” and helped me to embrace this step.
My photo shoot with Leigh Righton is a celebration of my final ‘reveal’. The greatest gift in my journey is that I’m no longer attached to my hair growing back. These photos represent me fully accepting and embracing my condition in all areas of my life…the ultimate freedom! By living fully and authentically without my hair, I hope to spread a message of acceptance. These photos are a true gift in my celebration of Alopecia.
Photography: Leigh Righton
Makeup: Christine Jairamsingh