A brave 19-year-old woman from Melbourne has opened up about what it has been like growing up with alopecia. Stef Hodgson was only six when she discovered a bald spot on her scalp, and was diagnosed with the condition shortly after.
Yes, I am bald but that's not all I am.
'Being that young it was really scary because all of a sudden I was going from this world where everything could be fixed by a sticker or a lollipop and a kiss from mum, but this couldn’t,' Miss Hodgson told Daily Mail Australia.
By the time she started high school, Stef had lost all the hair on her head completely and would cover her bald scalp with wigs. She was afraid that if people discovered she was bald they wouldn’t want to be friends with her.
It wasn’t until year 11 that she felt comfortable talking about her experience with the condition, and now sees her collection of wigs and scarves as a way of expressing herself.
'It used to be a way of hiding my condition and pretending to be normal but now it's something I use to express who I am,' Stef said.
'I wear hats and wigs and headscarves and I change my appearance based on my mood - that's something that's really exciting for me.'
She is now working to make life easier for other people who share her condition - including starting a petition to remove the GST from medical wigs, motivational speaking, and working as an ambassador for the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation.
'Being older and looking back, alopecia is something I've come to really like about myself and yes I am bald but that's not all I am,' she said.
'Don't be the kind of beautiful you see on magazines, be the kind that's unique to you. That's the most special thing.'