Alopecia Makes its Oscar Debut
Alopecia Areata Slapped onto Centre Stage at the 94th Academy Awards
Why did Will Smith slap Chris Rock at the Oscars?
Written by Carlyn
Two words: Alopecia Areata.
In the medical vocabulary, Alopecia means ‘bald’ and Areata means ‘patchy’.
Jada Pinkett Smith, actor Will Smith’s wife, has been candid about her struggles with an autoimmune disease called Alopecia Areata, which consists of patchy and unpredictable hair loss.
During last night’s 94th Academy Awards, Chris Rock directed a bald joke at Jada, which did not sit well with ‘Best Actor’ winner Will Smith. Rock was referring to Demi Moore’s bald look in the 1997 Action film G.I. Jane.
Alopecia Areata is classified as an autoimmune disease, which consists of the immune system mistakenly attacking parts of the body. In this case, the cells of the immune system attack and surround the hair follicles, halting hair growth.
Here’s what Toronto dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett of DLK on Avenue had to say about the condition:
There are many different types of hair loss, also known as Alopecia. Hair loss can be divided into cicatricial (scarring) and non-cicatricial (non-scarring) forms. One form of non-cicatricial alopecia is Alopecia Areata. This is a form of Alopecia caused by an autoinflammatory response to the hair follicle. Patients can have isolated patches of hair loss on the scalp, however in more severe forms, it can occur anywhere on the body including the eyelashes and eyebrows. Some patients can also experience the loss of all hair (Alopecia Universalis). Patients with Alopecia Areata are also at a higher risk of having other autoimmune diseases, such as Thyroid Disease, Pernicious Anemia and Addison’s Disease among others, so it is important to follow these patients carefully.
Treatments for Alopecia Areata includes topical methods such as topical steroids, intralesional steroid injections or systemic medications in more severe forms. Other common forms of non-cicatricial alopecia are Telogen Effluvium, which can occur after illness or trauma and Androgenetic Alopecia, which is commonly seen in men and some women with aging.
Evidently, Alopecia is serious and can be upsetting for the person affected due to appearance factors. In 2018, a peer-reviewed study showed that “Black and Hispanic women in the U.S. have a significantly greater chance of developing Alopecia Areata in their lifetime than White women.”
In 2018, JPS was open about her condition during an episode of her Facebook series, Red Table Talk, stating that “It was terrifying when it first started. I was in the shower one day and then just handfuls of hair just in my hands.”
Did Chris have it coming?