By Evin Billington
Kylie Bamberger appears to be like each bit the blushing bride in her marriage ceremony images. She’s sporting a white ball robe, clutching a bouquet of sunflowers and gerbera daisies, flanked by beaming bridesmaids. However there’s one main factor that units her other than typical brides: Bamberger is completely bald.
Bamberger, 27, has alopecia universalis, an autoimmune illness that assaults hair follicles and causes complete hair loss all around the physique, together with the pinnacle, eyelashes, eyebrows, and all physique hair. She hasn’t worn a wig or lined up her head for greater than 5 years.
“Being blonde isn’t who I’m,” she says. “I don’t determine with my hair coloration.”
When you think about dangerous haircut is sufficient to ship many ladies right into a downward spiral, the truth that Bamberger rocks no hair in any respect is inspiring. Nonetheless, her path to self-acceptance and the unshakeable confidence she boasts right now had its ups and downs.
Bamberger, who lives in Los Angeles, first seen a quarter-size bald spots at age 12. Medical doctors identified her with alopecia areata, which causes hair to fall out in spherical patches. Three years later, with no warning, her hair started falling out in clumps whereas showering. “It felt like once you run your hand by a field of yarn,” she says. “I simply keep in mind going, ‘This isn’t regular.’” That was a Monday; by Thursday morning, she now not had sufficient hair to drag right into a ponytail.
tried reducing her hair brief and sporting hats, however finally shaved her head and began sporting wigs. In school, she would work within the morning sporting a blonde wig, and alter right into a crimson wig earlier than class. Although sporting wigs made her look extra conventionally “regular,” Bamberger hated them. “Simply strolling throughout campus, it might be so sizzling that I’d take my hair off and dry it underneath the blow dryers within the girls’s toilet, as a result of I’d sweat beneath it,” she says. “That was my life-style.”
Sooner or later, she forgot to place her wig again on earlier than class. “I simply walked in…I used to be like, ‘Properly, that is me!’” she says. That day, she lastly dropped what she calls her part of being two completely different individuals: a blonde and a redhead.
The transition from bewigged to bald at instances dampened Bamberger’s spirits, and infrequently left her pissed off. She felt self-conscious about her look, particularly when individuals would stare and ask uncomfortable questions. To her horror, typically she was mistaken for a person within the girls’s restroom, and on a couple of event, she was known as a skinhead.
The turning level in Bamberger’s evolution got here throughout collegiate soccer season. Her teammates have been out to win video games, to not gossip about somebody’s hair (or lack thereof). On the sector, she developed psychological toughness, and found her private energy pose: “resting bitch face,” as she calls it. Her icy stare intimidated gamers on opposing groups—and in on a regular basis life, silenced impolite whispers about her baldness. “If individuals have been staring, I’d stare again,” she says. “If you happen to’re going to exit bald, you must have the arrogance to personal it. You’re not offending anybody.”
At present, Bamberger—who works full time for her household’s British meals imports enterprise—spreads consciousness about alopecia by modeling and motivational speeches. She additionally promotes self-acceptance and self-love on social media. In March, she participated in #WhatIModel, a joint social media marketing campaign from Well being and Sports activities Illustrated Swimsuit celebrating physique range and positivity. Her video was among the many hottest of the whole marketing campaign, amassing greater than 80,000 views.
“I mannequin acceptance. I mannequin the flexibility to indicate your internal magnificence, and that you simply don’t essentially want all of this to have all of that,” she says within the video. “Once I misplaced my hair, I used to be so targeted on what I had misplaced, that I hadn’t essentially realized what I had gained. I had gained the flexibility to lastly love myself…. Nobody ought to ever be alienated due to the way in which that they appear.”
The stares and uncomfortable questions nonetheless occur, however Bamberger says she additionally receives compliments and, typically, even hugs. She’s come to understand the eye she will get whereas strolling her bald.
“As a lot as random hugs within the grocery retailer won’t appear interesting, there’s one thing concerning the energy of a hug, the place even when it won’t profit me, that one who needed to give me a hug actually feels good about it,” she says. “If I might be—as my husband calls me—the tortilla chip to their guacamole, if I might be the service for that good feeling, then let’s promote good emotions.”
Finally, she hopes being bald can turn out to be as accepted as traits like unicorn hair are now. First, although, should come extra acceptance, which she hopes she will be able to have a hand in fostering. “Hair loss doesn’t make you unhealthy, and it doesn’t make you ugly,” she says. “These are two huge, huge misconceptions. I’m not sick. I’m solely stronger. If you happen to’re on the market, bald, it simply means you’re turning into stronger. If you happen to’re on the market embracing your bald, you’re stronger. Interval.”