Fiona was 19 when her hair fell out – but the experience opened some exciting new doors…
“It all started when I was 19 years old. My mum was doing my hair and she found a bald spot the size of a 50p piece. We immediately assumed that it was damage caused by dyeing my hair so often. However, a trip to the hairdresser proved me wrong - they discovered that my whole hairline was disappearing. It was horrible. I went straight to the hospital’s skin clinic where they decided to monitor the bald patches. Because I still had my eyelashes and eyebrows, the medical specialists assumed I was suffering from Alopecia Areata. So I tried different treatment creams but nothing worked and my hair kept falling out. By my 20th birthday, I decided to shave my head..."
In order to avoid people asking me why, I organised a big charity event and got sponsors. I couldn’t face telling friends and colleagues the truth. The only people who knew why I was really shaving my head were my parents, my boyfriend at the time, my best friend and boss. After shaving my head, I was devastated and hid in my home for two weeks…. I soon got fitted with an acrylic wig but I didn’t like the feel of it at all and my confidence was rapidly crumbling.
In time, the worst happened: I lost my eyebrows and eyelashes. My boyfriend assured me he loved me for who I was but I didn’t believe him. I felt ugly and unattractive. Why would he still think I was beautiful? When I was diagnosed with Alopecia Totalis, I thought it was the end of the world. Eventually, the strain on my relationship proved too much and we broke up. I developed other illnesses, withdrew socially, signed off sick from college and gave up all the things I loved – teaching fitness, horse riding, going clubbing – everything a normal young person should do. I felt robbed of my youth.
My mum and dad were amazing through all my struggles. By the time I reached 21, I was ordered to move back home so they could look after me. Before long, my dad found a high-profile London clinic that claimed to be able to help. After two trips to London and several fittings which amounted to £3,000, I had my new hairpiece which was literally glued to my head. Unfortunately the wig only last a few months before it fell to pieces. Just when I thought things were going right, it all went wrong. Devastated, I had to start all over again.
During this time, I met someone a new guy. He was a friend and already knew a bit about my hair loss. Unfortunately his mum, Lee, had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Treatment caused all her hair to fall out but seeing me without my wig helped her. It was then I realised my condition could help others…
I decided to go back to acrylic wigs. My dad sought advice and found out about A&A Studios. I was so nervous about seeing them but so desperate to lead a normal life. The staff at A&A couldn’t have been nicer. After three or four visits, they told me about the Freedom wig – a new, real hair wig fitted with a kind of suction technology to stick to your scalp. After getting ripped off before, I was wary but with my parents’ support I decided to go for it. When the product was finally ready to be fitted, I was crying and shaking with nerves. However, after putting it on, I couldn’t believe how amazing it was – and I literally cried some more with relief.
Since then, the boost to my confidence has been unbelievable. Working with A&A and wearing a Freedom wig changed my life. I can do anything I like – wear it swimming, shampoo it while I’m in the shower, crash in a tent at music festivals – all the things I want to do. The best part is, because of the wig’s staying power, I’m never faced with the need to tell anyone if I don’t want to!
When Lee sadly died, it gave me a new perspective. Losing my hair first made me wonder ‘why me? I’m not a bad person; I try to be kind to others – what have I done that’s so wrong?’ But now I realise that this was meant to happen to me so that I could support Lee and other people…
It’s taken me 5 years to get here but I now lead such a fantastic life! I’ve signed up to a modelling agency as a bald model which has given me loads of confidence. I’m planning to start my own business and I’m meeting some great people. I have fantastic parents and my best friend has stuck by me whatever the weather. Losing my hair and finding the new wig have opened some amazing new doors. I honestly believe that life’s too short to worry any more. I’m healthy, fit and active. It’s only hair, after all…”