Sigga Ella, an Icelandic photographer and the Baldvin association, also based in Iceland, have created a powerful and stunning series of portraits to spread awareness about Alopecia, an Autoimmune disorder that results in hair loss.
Seven women with the disorder volunteered to participate in the series to push against the gender stereotypes that exist about how women should look.
“It’s our collective hope to educate people about Alopecia; there are so many misconceptions about the disease and what it is,” Sigga told WYSK in an email. “We want to open up the discussion and work to expand society’s traditional notions of beauty.”
Many of the women Sigga photographed for the project have been criticized for their looks and made to feel less feminine because they have no hair. She shares with us what some of them told her about their experiences living with Alopecia.
“People comment on how well it suits me to be without hair, how lucky I am to have a nicely shaped head. Some women think I am brave to show that I am bald and cannot imagine that they could look good without hair. Some people also ask me if I am sick.
Bald women need to be more visible to bring up this subject. The bald woman does not exactly fit the ‘beauty standard stereotype’, which probably makes it harder for women to lose their hair in the first place. Women often tell me that their hair is an important part of their identity and their look in general.”
“You have to be strong to take all the attention that you get being bald in public, whether positive or negative. If there was more awareness among the public about Alopecia it would surely help women so they wouldn’t have to hide this disease.”
“I have very often, yes very often, had this moment when people who see me with my wig for the first time say, ‘wow, you look beautiful! I hardly recognized you!’ In my opinion this reflects the norm; that is, women without hair are not beautiful, but the moment they put on their hair it surprises people that they are beautiful. I find comments like these hurtful and degrading.”
Facts about Alopecia:
Alopecia is a disease that affects the hair follicles. In most cases, hair falls out in small, round patches about the size of a quarter. Many people with the disease get only a few bare patches. Some people may lose more hair. Alopecia affects nearly 2 percent of Americans of both sexes and of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. The cause is not known, but scientists believe that genetics may play a role. There is no cure for the disorder. To learn more, visit The National Institutes of Health.
All images courtesy of IMP Features, and republished on Women You Should Know with permission.