Extraordinary People

Meet the woman breaking the taboo that it’s okay for men to be bald but not women

Thea Chassin is flying the flag for people living with alopecia areata.

Why beat about the bush when you can get straight to the point? And that’s exactly the mindset of Thea Chassin who named her charity, Bald Girls Do Lunch.

Having developed alopecia areata in the late 90s, Thea wanted to create a community whereby people with the same condition could join forces and feel empowered.

Alopecia areata, widely known colloquially as patchy hair loss, is an autoimmune skin disease which stops the normal growth of hair on the scalp, brows, lashes and body.

Thea’s mission is to improve the quality of life for those who feel they have to live in hiding. Bald Girls Do Lunch encourages them to embrace options by wearing wigs, hats or going au natural in public.

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The Bald Girls Do Lunch network is the first non-profit support organisation devoting all its resources to the emotional and practical needs of women and teen girls with alopecia areata.

They deliver a variety of events, including social sessions and style workshops, bringing together over 3,000 people so far to help restore self-esteem and conquer isolation.

Speaking about her initiative, Thea says she feels passionately that no one should ever be alone with the condition or worry and feel self-conscious about their appearance.

Thea explained: “I’m devoted to doing my part to break down the taboos about it being okay for men to be bald but not women.

“If women with alopecia areata are going to live successful and contented lives, shouldn’t they be in the driver’s seat of their lives holding the wheel?

“Meeting other women with the same condition is one of the most effective and easy ways to ease the emotional burden and strengthen personal resilience.”

The former physical therapist turned nonprofit founder and CEO also wants to challenge public misconception that all hairless women have cancer.

Thea continued: “We’re not sick. We just can’t grow hair. Too many alopecians are sweltering miserably under wigs just to avoid questions or suspicions.

“Our goal is to help a higher percentage of women be more open so the cancer assumptions will start to decrease.”

Thea believes that with the right education, we can create a world where hair and beauty paradigms shift so that all women are accepted regardless of whether they use hats, wigs, scarves or embrace their bald look.

She concluded: “Accept a changed self-image of yourself first. Nonchalantly, educate others. You have nothing to be ashamed of. The result? People will begin to follow your lead. You deserve an easy, normal life and it’s in reach.”

Alopecia – which occurs in males and females, of all ages and races – usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth patches and may develop into wider areas.

In Thea’s native USA, research shows that up to two percent of the population has a lifetime risk of having alopecia areata at some point in their lives. Approximately 650,000 have AA at the same time.

To learn more, click here: Bald Girls Do Lunch.

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