Not deceived by appearances

Austyne Chetwood, Reporter

She played with her hair, glancing around to make sure no one would know it was a wig. At home, she brushes the wig, tensing up through every stroke, trying to remember what hair used to feel like.

Elena Myrice has alopecia universalis, which caused a complete loss of all her hair.  The diagnosis came when she found a bald spot at eight years old.

“I had really long hair to my back,” Myrice said. “I decided to cut it for donation, because I knew it didn’t just go to people that had cancer. But, I wanted it to go to somebody who had cancer and lost their hair.”

By the eighth grade, all of her hair was gone.

“I used to wear a wig all the time but I would go to the grave saying it wasn’t one,” Myrice said. “People would to try to pull off my wig or come up to me and ask me ‘what hairdresser do you go to?’”

Myrice counts every glance from the people she’s never met, but who judge her based on appearance.

“Everyone knows who I am. They may not know me by my name,”  Myrice said. “But they know I am the bald girl.”

Her hardship, though, is not as visible as it may seem.

“I think it’s different when you have your biggest insecurity,” Myrice said. “Because it is the first thing people notice about me. I always thought if I were to get married one day, the first thing they are going to notice about me is that I am bald.”

And when people see her, they automatically assume she has a serious condition.

“I want to be treated like everyone else,” Myrice said. “And I think that’s the hardest thing to accept is that you’re going to get judged whether it’s good judgement or not.”

While being around judgment, though, she has realized the negativity high school students surround themselves in.

“When people complain about trivial things I just want to tell them there is so much more to lose,” Myrice said. “Especially when people have several different issues.”

Growing up with these issues, though, has made her a stronger person.

“Having alopecia has made me who I am,” Myrice said.