Yes, I Have Alopecia and I Am Beautiful and Strong
I was born with a head of beautiful red hair, but by age two it began to all fallout. First, it was in small chunks but within a few weeks, I was completely bald. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, called Alopecia which causes total body hair loss.
It was tough growing up without any hair. I used a wig to ‘hide’ my bald head. I was so ashamed of having no hair. I never felt like I was pretty or worthy of love, happiness, or joy. I would look at all of the beautiful women I was surrounded by every day at school, on television, and in magazines with their beautiful heads of hair and think, “If only I could have hair”.
I would come home from school crying because kids were so mean to me. They’d make fun of me by calling me names like ‘baldy’ or they’d make fun of my lack of eyebrows or eyelashes.
But it hurt the most when they called me called me a boy. That really stung.
I had no self-confidence and I was so ashamed, I never attempted to stand up for myself or told anyone because they were right. I was bald. I didn’t know anyone else with alopecia, and I felt like I was alone with no one to talk to.
I was outcasted in so many ways. I wanted nothing more than to fit in and be like everyone else.
I can still vividly remember the time in gym class when a boy pulled off my hair. My worst nightmare had come true. I can still see the faces of kids in my head. There I was, exposed and vulnerable. I always wanted to hide my alopecia, and never wanted anyone to know about it because girls were pretty when they had hair. Having hair and feeling pretty felt like the most important thing in the world.
I was very fortunate to be blessed with athletic ability. It was in my later elementary school days that I discovered the game of basketball, and little did I know, basketball would open doors for me in my future.
I would race home from school every day to shoot hoops in my driveway for hours, pretending to make the game-winning shot. After each basket, I’d hear the crowd going wild and chanting my name. I never thought of my Alopecia. Basketball became my escape into my perfect world where I was just like all of the other girls.
All my focus shifted to practicing and becoming the best player I could be. I was starting to stand out from the crowd for the first time in an empowering way. I still wore my wig 100% of the time and never talked about my Alopecia, but I thought about it less because I had basketball as a distraction.
I went on to have a great high school career breaking countless school records and went on to receive a scholarship to play college basketball. I’m a very competitive person by nature, and every summer Duluth, Minnesota (my college town) hosted a marathon so I thought to myself, “I can run a marathon!”. I was never a runner; in fact, I used to hate to run more than the length of the basketball court. I went on a few runs beforehand and then laced up my sneakers on race morning and took off.
I’ll never forget that day.
The whole time, I kept thinking to myself, ‘This is amazing! I am strong, tough and powerful!’. I had never truly felt and believed these strong emotions before. As I crossed the finish line with a finishing time of 4 hours and 17 minutes, all I could think about was that I could do better. I didn’t know it then, but the day of my first marathon changed my life in more incredible ways than I could have ever imagined.
I began to start racing all over the country, always challenging myself and wanting to become better. I loved the challenge and excitement of being in a new city and taking on a new race. The more I ran, the stronger, more empowered, and more beautiful I felt.
There is just something so special to me about the road in the early morning when it’s just me and I have time to think and feel so many different emotions.
I had beautiful really green eyes! I had been so ashamed and embarrassed by my bald head that I never really looked at myself in the mirror because I hated the way I looked. But now, I thought, ‘Wow. I am kind of pretty’.
Through running, I was able to learn so much about myself. It’s hard to be a runner. It takes a lot of dedication, strength, determination and pure guts to get through all of the training, especially on the days you don’t want to. But, I loved it! I would look forward to my long run every weekend and I always had a future goal race to look forward to.
Running was shaping me into the person I had always been. But the same one that I needed help truly seeing.
I got home from my run, hung my wig up (which was so disgusting and sweaty. I have no idea how I ever ran or played basketball with that thing on for all of those years!) and I haven’t looked back since.
My next marathon was my first ‘bald’ marathon, two weeks later in San Diego. I ran my personal best time and even qualified for Boston!
My dream came true!
I had never felt so loved or celebrated as I did after that race. All of these strangers coming up to me, hugging and congratulating me, it was such an incredible feeling!
Since my first marathon my senior year of college in Duluth, Minnesota, my goal had been to run 27 marathons by the time I turned 27 years old. This past June in San Diego, I hit my goal. It was incredible to cross that finish line, my arms in the air, tears in my eyes, as I finally got to the point in my life I had always dreamed of; Where I could confidently let my bald head shine and love it and share that joy with the rest of the world. I was no longer ashamed and felt like I was finally me, the Lindsay God had made me to be.
Today, I’ve run a total of 29 marathons and I can’t wait for all that is to come. If I hadn’t started running, I don’t think I would be the person I am today.
Running has helped me to accept, love, and embrace my Alopecia and bald head which is now my favorite thing about me.
It was through running that I was able to get to the point in my life where I can confidently say, ‘Yes, I have Alopecia and I am beautiful!” and truly believe it. I am in awe of how running has shaped me into the person I am today, the lessons it's taught me not just in the sport, but in my life as well. As well as all the amazing, supportive and loving people who have loved, supported, and believed in me when I didn’t in myself. When I think of my future and running, I can’t help but feel so excited about what’s to come. I'm just getting started!