The Increasing Rate of Diversity within the Fashion World – #Alopeciaisfashion

The barriers of which conform to the shape of the fashion world have seen an increasing rate of change in the last 5 years alone. This change can been seen from Aldi’s new advertisement showing a young deaf girl, Maisie Sly, signing her preferable fish finger brand in an all signed ad, aired in May 2018, to the increased acceptance of campaigns like ‘#Makeyourmark’ and ‘#Alopeciaisfashion’.

-Eve Betts modelling for the campaign ‘#Alopeciaisfashion’ founded by Claire Namukolo

Alopecia, also known as alopecia areata, is a condition that causes an individuals hair to partially or completely full out due to the body attacking the hair follicles. Stress, psoriasis and eczema are some of the causes of this condition. Other causes of the disorder include;

  • Alopecia Totalis
  • Alopecia Areata
  • Alopecia Universalis
  • Postpartum Alopecia
  •  Traction Alopecia
  • Male Pattern Baldness
  •  Diffuse Hair Loss
  • Genetic Thining
  • Chemotherapy Hair Loss
  • Medical & Treatments Hair Loss

An individual suffering with Alopecia can experience emotional distress due to worrying what others think about their appearance.  A new campaign labeled ‘#Alopeciaisfashion‘ has hit the ground running after being founded by the amazing Claire Namukolo. This campaign is aimed at inspiring women all across the globe to love themselves regardless of their situations, hair or no hair, “To help any person in need who is living with any form of hair loss, and their families through changing the view on the importance of growing hair to emphasising on eliminating stigma, community engagement,  growing confidence, building self-esteem, providing quality support, connecting professionals and raising awareness”.  – Claire Namukolo, ‘#Alopeciaisfashion’, Founder. The ‘Hair Heals Organisation’ is a non-profit organisation which strives to provide individuals with alopecia practical, emotional and social support. The organisation aims to help children, young people, women, men who struggle with little or no hair by improving individual engagement with the community, while focusing on building social skills and confidence levels with others in similar situations.  The community focuses on connecting those in need with help and safe, accessible treatment with a professional that is equipped of treating Alopecia.

-Claire Namukolo

In a recent study conducted by Philip Kingsley, roughly 8 million women are effected by alopecia in the UK alone, 1in8 of these women were under the age of 35. Philip Kingsley had found that most women suffering from the disease are too embarrassed/ashamed to seek professional help in order to help improve their situation. Claire herself has had to learn to deal with the dark side of the condition. “What really struck was the sense of the sense of isolation, the shame as well” she stated in an earlier BBC interview. She goes on to say that the fashion world has already paved the way of how fashion should look which has left individuals, such as Claire, struggling to find a place to fit in. On BBC Breakfast earlier this week we were introduced to Eve and Nicola, who have both lost their hair due to alopecia, and model for Claire’s campaign with the mission of making hair loss more visible and accepted within the fashion world. I strongly believe that if the fashion world were more accepting of this issue than it would reach out to those who are too embarrassed to seek help, therefore, creating an environment of love and support for these individuals who are in desperate need of it.

-Eve & Nicola at the recent photoshoot covered by the BBC.

“If Eve and I can stand out in the streets with a load of people watching us while we do a fashion shoot, then it is us doing smaller steps getting other people to feel confident.”

– Eve & Nicola

It is refreshing to see models, such as Eve and Nicola, that do not conform to fashion ideals ‘strutting their stuff’ whilst oozing confidence and style. However, that’s not to say that their lives have been easy to get to where they are today. Nicola lost her hair at the age of 11 and as a result she struggled to deal with it so she didn’t. When going out she would be in a constant worry that someone would know she was bald, therefore, looking at her as if she wasn’t normal. The condition has also effected her dating life as she had heard what boys have been saying about the situation behind her back, leaving her feel as if she would never being fully accepted into ‘normal’ every day life. Once she was able to accept the fact she had alopecia Nicola was able to push out of her comfort zone and

“We’ve grown up with it, thinking that people are going to react badly, they’re going to think I’m a monster,” – Nichola.

Eve Betts appeared on the hit channel 4 show ‘First Dates’ back in 2017 and shared her inspiring story. In this episode of the show we see Eve Betts go on a date with Jordan. We learn that Eve has been suffering from the condition since the age of 3. We find out that the reason she had chosen beauty as a career path is due to being bullied at school for having no eyebrows. When explaining this to the camera she becomes very emotional, explaining that her dad was so good at helping her through the tough times and even drew eyebrows on for her.

“It’s normal, it’s fine and you can look nice whether you’ve got really long hair or no hair,” – Eve

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-Eve participated on the first dates TV programme in 2017 and brought viewers to tears.

During the date Jordan explains to Eve that he used to have a ‘Man Bun’, which the led onto Eve showing him her bald head. He looked to be slightly shocked but soon changed his facial expression into a smile and told Eve to keep the wig off, telling her that she was beautiful without it . To raise awareness there is an exciting exhibition, produced by ‘First Dates’ contestant – Eve Betts, coming to Liverpool called ‘Hair Loss Photography Exhibition’, which is available to the view from the 4th March 2018.

‘Hair Loss Photography Exhibition’ – Run by channel 4’s ‘First Dates’ contestant, Eve Betts.

Other ways that the standards within the fashion world are changing is through advertisment which I find extremely refreshing to see as beauty is not just the traditional 6ft, odd, slim, picture perfect woman that we are so used to seeing. Beauty comes in many forms and it has been amazing to see campaigns such as ‘#Makeyourmark’ and ‘#Alopeciaisfashion hitting the headlines on our mass media platforms. I am in complete awe of these women for going against the grain to push the boundaries of fashion. Another campaign which I have stumbled across is #warpaintforlife which strives to help women facing cancer by increasing body positivity through the use of make-up. The stunning stars of this campaign are Kinga, Lindi, Pip and Polly. Taking inspiration from 1940s wartime posters to create an empowered vibe has brought these images to life, creating a strong message to really combat the visual side of Cancer.

-Professional photographer, Josh Van Gelder, producer, Andrea Blood, International make-up artist, Caroline Barnes, fashion stylist, Tracey Lea Sayer, hairdresser Charley McEwan and Sian Hughes and Jo Smith from 7after6.

I am extremely excited by what is happening in the fashion industry at the moment, this idea of empowering women instead of restricting the idea of ‘beauty’ to a select few ideas is a positive move forward. For children especially to see people on the television that look like them provides a positive impact on their self-esteem, therefore decreasing rates of depression and increasing body positivity. What these amazing woman are doing is inspiring and I am proud to see conditions, such as, alopecia now being celebrated instead of being viewed in a negative light.

Others in the media with alopecia –

-Joanna Rowsell Shand, Oympic medal holder for women’s cycling

-Duncan Goodhew, Oympic medal holder for men’s swimming

-Gail Porter, Scottish television presenter

Women are not the only ones to suffer with the condition, men do to. There is sadly not near as much awareness out there for men as there is for women battling the condition. For men, baldness is a common part of growing older and is an acceptable grooming choice. This may be why men are not able to access the same level of help dealing with the condition as women have? I definitely think that men should be given the same amount of help and also awareness when coping with hair loss. We rarely get the chance to hear a man’s perspective of the mental and physical effects of living with alopecia. This is something I believe should be speaking about more in the near future.

 

By Josephine Clackson

xxx

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