UK-based designer Ayush Kejriwal says one can be bald and beautiful
Are bald people ugly? Today, I am going to open my heart and talk about something that I have faced personally. For me, it’s time to lay it bare. You have been warned, so, if you still feel you want to hear my story then carry on reading, if you choose not to…it’s okay, I understand. Let me take you back to where it all started. Around eight years ago I got up one morning and noticed that half my eyebrows were missing, initially I thought it was a very unkind prank by one of my friends but on closer inspection, I found round bald patches on my head and I knew something was not right. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. Subconsciously, I think I was putting off the dermatologist appointment to avoid what I knew I was going to be told: I was diagnosed with alopecia, it could have been triggered because of stress that may have been caused by the death of a loved one in my family — my dad.
Coming to terms with it was and is hard. It’s something that hits me every now and again. After receiving my diagnosis, I became depressed. My hair loss became so severe I had to begin wearing a hairpiece. None of my treatments were working, and the steroid injections were giving me major headaches. Alopecia is as much — if not more — a mental struggle than a physical one. I felt confused, scared, but also somehow distanced from the condition. I didn’t want to learn more about alopecia because I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole of information. So for years, it was always just something I dealt with without addressing the underlying issue. It took a long time but eventually, I did learn to accept the situation. There is something beautiful and liberating about being able to recognise the person one is meant to be, and realising the insignificance of things we put so much significance on.
Whilst I was coming to terms with my condition, I was disheartened to see most of the helpful resources were directed toward people with hair loss seeking to be beautiful through a wig or hair transplant. While that is an important and valid option for some, it just was not one for me. Societal standards of beauty are incredibly off base in many ways, and the significance of hair is one of those ways. After struggling for months with a wig I finally decided to shave my head for good, it was liberating. I did have to work my way through denial, anger, self-pity, negotiation and depression to find a breakthrough. I did realise that whilst hair is beautiful, I do not need it to be beautiful. I was very emotional and scared but I stopped covering my bald spots and decided to rock the shaved look with confidence. I felt like a big burden had been lifted off my shoulders, I was able to breathe once again.
As soon as I accepted the situation and embraced my patchy head of hair, I felt relieved. What people would feel about my new look or say did not bother me anymore. The world we live in has a very cruel way of making us see our imperfections. People around us are all always keen to point out things that they feel make us less appealing. The most bizarre thing about this is, they do this on the pretext of caring for us or love. We all have encountered times when our friends and family have made crude comments about our appearance in jest. Many people say things to me about my bald look, but I choose to ignore them. When I look in the mirror, I see a good looking man who is unique, beautiful and very precious. If others fail to see my beauty, the problem is in their sight not me. Sometimes the looks and whispers can be embarrassing and make me sad.
But above all, I know who I am. My baldness doesn’t define me, it’s a part of me and it’s not worth being hidden. I’m not sick, I just chose to shave my head and be bald. There is a deep-rooted belief in our society which makes people feel shameful about being bald as baldness is considered to be unattractive and a sign of ageing. And in a culture like ours that overvalues youth, accepting baldness is rather difficult. We are made to believe that we are unattractive and ugly. It’s not about vanity, it is almost like a disorder where you have a distorted image of how you look and it is not a nice place to be in. I want men, women, and children to know that bald is beautiful too and that you’re absolutely not alone in this journey, I am here for you. I have shared a few pictures of myself with hair and without it too, I know I look lovely in all of them. Would you agree?
PS: I don’t even know whether you all like reading my columns, please reach out to me on Instagram @designerayushkejriwal