CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A woman with alopecia reacted to the joke comedian Chris Rock made at the Oscars Sunday night.
What You Need To Know
Sandra Slade was diagnosed with alopecia 15 years ago
Slade didn’t find the joke comedian Chris Rock made at the Oscars offensive but understands everyone is in a different journey when it comes to alopecia
She disagrees with the confrontation that happened after but is glad the negative incident has brought awareness about the disorder
Fifteen years ago, doctors diagnosed Sandra Slade with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder causing hair loss.
“Everyone has to choose their own path as to how they want to deal with it,” Slade said.
Her journey started with sorrow.
“A woman losing her hair is very upsetting. It’s very emotional and every day when you brush or comb, there’s more and more hair,” Slade said.
Then, she moved into acceptance.
She wore wigs for two years before deciding to take them off and shave her head.
“I personally felt more like me,” Slade said. “Having the confidence to know you are still a person, and you’re still a woman.”
Sunday night, Rock made a comment about Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia.
“I didn’t think it was a funny joke, no particular reason,” Slade said.
However, she did notice Pinkett Smith didn’t like it at all.
“That’s when I knew she was still sensitive about having lost her hair,” Slade said.
These comments don’t affect Slade anymore, but she recognizes everyone is different.
“It doesn’t mean that because I wasn’t offended by it, that another person may not be and clearly she was offended by it,” Slade said.
Slade said in her case, strangers have addressed her as a man or asked if she had cancer.
“I’m past the point where things like that offend me,” Slade said. “You have to navigate yourself with society and the things that society has been trained to believe about women, which is women have hair.”
Slade uses these encounters with people as teaching moments to share more about alopecia.
Regardless, she said Will Smith should have talked about Rock about the situation, instead of confronting him and slapping him on national television.
“I personally think he overreacted,” Slade said.
However, she’s glad the incident is bringing awareness to alopecia.
“This is a positive thing about a negative thing, so I’m happy about that,” Slade said.
She recommends people with alopecia to stand in their own truth and do what feels right to them.
“It’s not a death sentence. It’s not going to kill you. You have to learn how you can deal with it,” Slade said.
Slade belongs to a local chapter of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. Glenda Moore who leads the group can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, but she recommends those interested to reach out to the NAAF directly before joining.