Alopecia is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks hair follicles causing complete or partial hair loss. This can create bald patches on a person’s head, arms, legs, pretty much anywhere you grow hair. A senior at Perkiomen Valley High School; Allison Brady, has had alopecia all her life.
“Growing up with alopecia has been interesting. Throughout my life, my parents always made sure I knew that hair didn’t define my worth and reminded me that being bald is beautiful,” said Brady. About one per one thousand children have Alopecia and almost half don’t even know they have it.
Brady’s life can be described as normal! Like most other teens she loves the arts, hanging out with her friends, and her favorite color is yellow.
“When she first started losing her hair, we were concerned about what was happening. When we found out that it was alopecia, we had a lot of different emotions. We were relieved to have an answer about what was causing her hair loss and we were happy that it was something cosmetic; grateful that she wasn’t sick,” stated both Brady’s parents; Maureen and Scott Brady.
Having something that isn’t the social norm can cause those to be worried that they will stand out or people will stare.
“Alopecia has definitely made me into the person I am today, I learned how to be confident and not to care as much about what people think of me,” said Brady. Brady makes it known that her disease is not all that she is but it has helped her become an even more courageous person then she had ever hoped for.
Music is a way of expression and self exploration.
“Singing has helped me gain confidence with my alopecia because after doing singing performances a couple of times I realized that if I could stand up and sing in front of a crowd of people, which was something that was very hard for me to get the courage to do, I could walk around being bald every day since all I had to do was be myself”
Brady is also a passionate photographer; “what I see when taking pictures is moments that will become memories”.
With a quick setup of the frame, a click, and then a flash of light; she has created a work of art.
“Photography allows me to express myself and capture different moments in life, capture people’s real emotions,” Brady elucidated.
“The Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP) is a great organization for kids with alopecia,” It’s a non-profit organization that was started locally in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania; by a man named Jeff Woytovich when his daughter Maddie developed Alopecia. This group aims to help children with Alopecia gain confidence and self-esteem, it also offers many opportunities to connect different children with others who also have Alopecia.
“Maddie Woytovich has also been a role model for Allison. She has never worn a wig and is a very confident person. She’s also done modeling for Aerie, which helps Allison and other girls with hair loss feel represented in the fashion industry,” Brady’s parents said.
“Being recognized as a role model is something that is still so surreal to me, even after being completely bald for 17 year now! I never thought I’d get to the point of being comfortable in my own skin and embracing my alopecia, let alone impacting someone else’s journey so it makes me very grateful and humble,” Woytovich said.
Woytovich manifests that people work on their own journeys and not compare them to others seen in person or online, but be inspired by the confidence you see.
“Allison Brady is such a beautiful girl who is also an inspiration to me because of how confident she portrays herself on social media,” Woytovich revealed with a smile.
Though Brady tends to be on the other side of the camera she still captures the beauty of Alopecia and being a strong woman.
The Brady family would like the overall message that is being sent out to be, “Bald is beautiful!”