Although beauty imagery is slowly becoming more inclusive, we're still being hit over the head with the idea that long hair = beauty. Yes, long hair can be beautiful, but only lauding long hair means leaving out those with various hair textures or conditions.
So when a hairstylist made a bold decision to shave her head for an inspiring reason, she didn't just change her look; she broke beauty molds, too.
"I’ve pushed people away from getting to know me and turned down opportunities because of my [condition]. I even thought I would never find love because of [it]," she said.
She told Revelist she was apprehensive about participating in activities like sleepovers or going swimming due to her condition. "I always considered it to be my deepest, darkest secret...one that less than ten people in my life knew about (including some immediate family members)," she explained.
Azerad's trichotillomania started when she was 4 years old, which is when she started pulling her eyebrows and eyelashes.
Also known as "hair-pulling disorder," trichotillomania is a condition that causes "recurrent [and] irresistible urges to pull out hair from [their] scalp, eyebrows or other areas of [their] body, despite trying to stop," according to the Mayo Clinic.
Azerad started pulling from her scalp in the second grade, and was medicated and routinely went to a therapist until college for the condition. Although she has stopped pulling from her eyebrows, she still pulls her eyelashes and from her scalp.
Bald spots may form due to the hair pulling, which Azerad has had to hide over the years.
She said it's been over 10 years since she's styled her hair without a hat, headband, hairpiece, or wig. "Until recently, I was ashamed of my disorder, and, worst of all, myself. For too many years, I tried to 'fix' myself and wish away my disorder. I am now on a path of acceptance...I finally decided it was time to let my hair go," she told Revelist.
"Hair is such a big part of a person’s identity [—] especially a woman’s. It’s hard to see yourself destroy one of the things that society tells you makes you beautiful," she admitted.
When asked what it was like to shave her head, Azerad said it was understandably "nerve-racking" and that she felt "nervous to shave it off."
"[Although] it’s been over a decade since I’ve had a full head of hair, it still felt weird to feel no hair on my head," she said. "Needless to say, I’m loving my newly bald head."
She hopes to use her talents as a hair stylist to inspire others who may have hair loss.
"[After college] I quickly realized that I wanted to dedicate my life to being a resource for those with hair loss, especially Trichotillomania, from within the hair industry," she explained. "I was always terrified to go to hair salons growing up and I didn’t want others to feel the same."
She also has empowering advice for others who may have trichotillomania. "I no longer choose to be ashamed of who I am, and wish others with the disorder find the same level of self-acceptance. Don’t try and fix yourself. Accept your Trichotillomania as one of the things that makes you you. I hope everyone with Trichotillomania finds peace on their journey."
Azerad is a #shero with ANY hairstyle.