In Episode 2 of her new podcast, Women Of The Hour, Lena Dunham interviews one of my favorite alopecians. While discussing the relationships we have with our bodies, Rachel Fleit talks about growing up with alopecia and recalls this story:
I remember being a kid and in third grade we learned about mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. And I remember sitting in class and the teacher was like “Mammals are warm-blooded animals that have hair.” Then I went home that day and I asked my mother or father “am I a mammal?” Like I thought maybe I wasn’t a mammal because I had no hair.
I completely relate to questioning my own mammal-hood. There are many times when I'll catch an off-centered glimpse of myself in some reflective surface and immediately think "you are an alien". Having no hair is still so shocking to me at times. And in the winter when I'm cold and my skin gets dry, the comparison to a reptile does not seem like such a far stretch.
I think about Rachel's story though and I'm reminded how grateful I am that I lost my hair at age 30, when I had a much better understanding of the animal kingdom. Alopecia is so much harder for the kids and my heart aches thinking about a tiny Rachel being so confused. Give Lena's podcast a listen - the more we can spread awareness on alopecia, the easier it is for those living with it to feel a little less removed from the rest of you hairy animals.