Hairstyles have both cultural and political significance within the Black community. From locs to Afros to press and curls, the intricacies of hairstyles are especially understood among Black women. It’s an extension of self-expression.
“My hair has been a big part of me,” actress Jada Pinkett Smith said. “Taking care of my hair has been a beautiful ritual.”
But that has now changed for the 46-year-old wife and mother, who is opening up about her severe hair loss.
“I’ve been getting a lot of questions about why I’ve been wearing this turban,” Pinkett Smith said on her new Facebook show with her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, and daughter, Willow, called
“Red Table Talk.”
“I’ve been having issues with hair loss and it was terrifying when it first started. I was in the shower one day and then just handfuls of hair in my hands. I was just like, ‘Oh my God, am I going bald’ It was one of those times in my life when I was literally shaking with fear.”
She added, “That’s why I cut my hair and continued to cut my hair.”
Pinkett Smith said it was devastating because earlier on in her life she had thick, healthy hair to the point where people thought she was wearing a weave.
The actress said that she’s undergone tests to determine the cause of the hair loss, but doctors are still unsure why it’s occurring.
“People have said stress,” she explained. “People have said, ‘You have alopecia.'”
Alopecia areata is “a common autoimmune skin disease, causing hair loss on the scalp, face and sometimes on other areas of the body,” according to the
National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
Meanwhile, traction alopecia is hair loss caused by inflammation of the follicle from the tension of styles like braids, extensions and wigs.
Traction alopecia is “probably the most common form of hair loss we see in the Black community,” Crystal Aguh, an assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, told the
New York Times in April.
In coming to terms with hair loss, Pinkett Smith said she had to ask herself the question:
“Why are you so terrified that you might lose your hair”
She said that when she looked at her situation form a spiritual perspective, “It really did settle me.”