Islanders with alopecia say Oscars slap the wrong thing to be talking about

Islanders with alopecia say Oscars slap the wrong thing to be talking about

It was the slap heard and seen around the world.

When Victoria’s Carly Neal heard Chris Rock’s joke that led to the incident with Will Smith, she couldn’t help but sympathize with Jada Pinkett Smith.

“For me putting the Will Smith reaction and the violence aside, it was Jada’s face when you saw that joke hit her and I so relate to that,” says Neal.

Like Pinkett Smith Neal has alopecia, an autoimmune disorder where the person’s body attacks their hair. However, unlike Pinkett Smith who has alopecia areata, where the patches of hair might grow back, Neal has alopecia universalis, meaning that all of her body hair is gone.

“I was 26 when I got diagnosed,” says Neal.

“My hairdresser found a couple of patches on the side of my head and within about a couple of weeks all of my hair had fallen out.”

RELATED: Will Smith apologizes: ‘I was out of line and I was wrong’

After getting over the initial shock from the diagnosis, Neal had to learn to cope with the emotional aspect of permanently losing her hair, which for many who suffer from alopecia is the toughest part.

“The psychological trauma that alopecia puts on one’s self is devastating,” says Leanna Eastgate, a wig specialist and someone who suffers from alopecia. “For me, I had it when I was 20 years old and I was able to make it into something that helped heal me with opening up my own salon.”

“It has its silver linings here and there, but I think for anybody who goes through any scenario like this it’s day to day,” adds Neal.

“Some days are great, some days are not so great.”

While the physical altercation at the Oscars is getting most of the headlines, both Neal and Eastgate say the incident is a missed opportunity to educate the general public on the disorder.

“I think it’s become more about the slap then what Jada is going through,” says Eastgate.

“I think that people are catching up to it now,” says Neal.

“I’m glad to be telling people about what it is and not everybody that’s bald made a choice and not everybody that’s bald has cancer.”

It is one more reminder of the struggles that those with alopecia have to deal with on a daily basis.

Explainer: Alopecia ‘strips people of their identity’

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Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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