Sam's Story I first remember when I noticed the beginnings of Alopecia, or when someone else kindly pointed it out for me. It was the loss of my eyebrows and eyelashes, which I wasn’t too worried about because I always had fair coloured hair anyway and it wasn’t massively obvious. Soon to follow was facial hair becoming patchy and then body hair. Again, I wasn’t too concerned about this; however, I did seek consultation from a GP to no avail sadly. More and more my bald patches were becoming more prominent and harder to disguise or cover. They were particularly obvious when I would get my hair cut. Comments from the barber about my patches were obviously from a kind place but they were not needed, especially when this would draw attention from others in the barber shop. Months later, I moved to London and my hair loss was so rapid and dramatic that I chose to shave my head. This was scary at the time, watching yourself in the mirror as your appearance changes so drastically. It was winter as well and the shock to my system as the cold breeze hit my scalp was a feeling like no other. However, a part of me liked it, and I knew I had to get my hands on a beanie asap! Carharrt to be exact. My new work colleagues and new friends that I made had only ever knew me as bald, so there was rarely any comments or odd glances and that was a warm feeling to get as it calmed down my own inner anxiety about the way I looked. I am fortunate enough that I only have a handful of bad memories after my hair falling out but I do remember them, as we all do when something awkward or bad happens to us. I was home for Christmas and it was the first time seeing friends and family from Newcastle with my new look. Since my mother has had Alopecia for roughly 15 years I was used to this condition and very informed about it already so I knew coming home to family wouldn’t be an issue. I was in a late bar, and I was wearing a beanie and despite being very hot I didn’t feel comfortable taking my beanie off. Something about it felt like a safety blanket. Eventually I did. It may have been my own inner anxiety but I couldn’t help but feel like I was being watched. Some people I used to serve at the bar I worked at before my London-move saw me and did stare somewhat, not in like a particularly nasty way but I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed and I left the bar straight away. As an actor I was always very apprehensive about how having alopecia would affect my image and casting. I didn’t want to be type cast from such a young age. I couldn’t even grow a beard to accompany the bald look, which we all know is a classic look e.g. Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) or even Bronson (Tom Hardy). Despite my worries, my Alopecia and new bald look was met with nothing but praise and compliments and furthered my acting and writing. It also led to being signed to a modelling agency. I say this with great understanding of knowing how fortunate I have been with the way I look and how Alopecia has impacted my life on a positive way, as I know that it can be the complete opposite for some people when they first develop this condition. Surprisingly a lot of people assume I just clean shave my head and shave my eyebrows too, as they say ‘it’s a good look’, which is totally fair enough and they’re always very surprised when I tell them I have alopecia. Dating became slightly different too as initially I realised I had no up to date images of this baldy head so I soon found myself needing new pictures. Again, it was never an issue with anyone I dated, although I did think it might inhibit my dating life. However, if anything, it made it better, except for when people say I look like their dad! I don’t dislike comments like that, they’re actually very funny, but it does kind of just stick all bald people in one generic category. I would say, yes I am bald, obviously, but I’ve got alopecia, it’s a bit different, for me anyways. I would love to see more representation of people with alopecia in the media and arts. It is something I’m trying to do and why I have written a piece of theatre around the topic of alopecia and was delighted to recently receive an Alopecia Awareness Fund award to support this. You can read more about Sam’s theatre project here.