In our society, being a bald woman is a joke, needless to say, a cruel one, given that barely a few percent of bald people choose to have their heads shaven off while the rest struggle to accept the fact and spend time, money and efforts to prevent it from happening.
However, today I tell you my story, of losing my hair to a medical condition called alopecia and becoming the first alopecia patient to make it to the Mrs. India International beauty pageant and win a title.
I am Ketaki Jani, an Ahmedabad-born and Pune based government employee and a mother of two. I lost my hair at the age of forty in a matter of one and a half months; going from a lady next door to the lady people would make fun of because of my bald head.
I was leading a normal life like other family women and all was great. But then one day, I woke up to find a huge bald spot on my head, with my hair fallen out on the pillow. Shocked and panicked, I visited the doctor only to learn that the condition that I was suffering from is untreatable. In no time did I realized that nothing can be done now, and Alopecia removes every single strand of hair from my entire body.
Even after loosing my hairs, the treatment has to start. Series of consultations, medicines, and steroids were given each day for two and half years. My slipping into depression was very natural, but coming out of it was a choice that I made. After which I accepted the truth and embrace my baldness. Before I walk in society with dignity, despite all the painful questions, it was crucial for me to accept that “Yes, I am bald but have a beautiful heart”, which is beyond looks! Acceptance wasn’t easy at all, I cried whole day and was afraid to move out and even never looked at the mirror ever again…
It was my daughter who told me that I am beautiful as I was and it didn’t matter what the society thinks. It was then that I decided to accept what had happened and move on in life. I stopped taking steroids which would have had side-effects on my kidneys in the longer run, and decided to shed my scarf and step out of my home with my beautiful face and shiny bald head.
It wasn’t easy at first, of course, since I had people coming up to me and asking if I had cancer or some other deadly disease. Some even went on to tell me how my life had lost its meaning and there was nothing left in the world for a bald woman. Further, I am so much cursed for the wrong deeds I did. I was asked am I a widow! I could see sympathy and non-acceptance in the society. Often, my condition was made fun off, by strangers passing by.
Now, that I have promised to self that I will accept what fate had thrown at me, I decided to went through the excruciating procedure of getting my head tattooed, fulfilling my long-pending desire to have a tattoo.
I remember how I chose my head to have the tattoo, believing that God had given me a canvas and to make it more beautiful was my responsibility.
The tattoo helped me win back the confidence that I’d lost as it made my condition look more like a fashion statement. It was then I saw the Facebook page for the Mrs. India pageant, and immediately applied to it. The rest they say is history.
I was complimented by the show’s judges, from whom I learned that going bald out of choice was a fashion in Paris and other European countries and that I had an equal chance as any other participant, hair or no hair.
More than five years down the line, I am the first participant with alopecia to have made it to the finals of the Mrs. India Worldwide finale, and winning the title of Mrs. Inspirational, which people say is well-deserved.
I too felt that I was the right person to win the title of ‘Mrs. Inspiration’ when the pageant winner placed her crown on my head, she saluted me for my bravery and acknowledged my inner beauty and courage.
What I can tell out of my personal experience is that it doesn’t matter if you fit in the social standards of beauty or not, since all that matters, in the end, is whether or not you believe in yourself, and your inner beauty.
If you love yourself, you won’t ever be bothered about whether or not the society loves you, and that is how you conquer the world.
For all those who do not know what Alopecia areata is – It is a skin disease which is auto-immune. The most general trait is hair loss from the scalp, face and other body parts as well. In our own country, we have 1+Million cases each year getting affected by this disease. People mostly in the age group of 19-40 are affected. Anyone from both sexes can be affected by this disease.
…A lady who stands for Alopecia areata. Her story of courage is featured by several media platforms. She was exclusively interviewed by BBC Hindi. She told media that there are several female patients in India who have committed suicide and many females are killed by their own family members and are cursed and boycotted from their families as they don’t have hairs. Indian society has failed to accept these patients. There is no organization in India who can create awareness among the society and provide shelter to such patients, who otherwise are healthy. Just societal norms made them baldness crippled. Join Ketki in her this cause where she herself is a survivor is generating awareness amongst the general masses. You can like her FB page.