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#RepairTheWorldWednesday with Ruth Prass

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Ruth Prass

Happy National Alopecia Awareness Month 2021! In 2015 (4th grade) I was diagnosed with celiac, hyperthyroid, enlarged thyroid, a major iron deficiency, and Alopecia. Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune condition that affects 2% of the world’s population; It causes unexpected and uncontrollable hair loss on the body. It differs from person to person, with hair loss varying from the size of a dime, quarter, or larger patches on the scalp. Every fall, I would lose two large patches on each side of my head, leaving roughly ½ of my scalp bald. In 2018 however, I went completely bald, including losing all the other hair on my body (eyelashes, eyebrows, etc.) This is called Alopecia Universalis, meaning total hairlessness on the body. When I lost my hair, I felt like I lost myself in the process; It felt almost dehumanizing to look so different and feel the part too. 

My hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes began to grow back 9 months after they fell out. I remember the first time I didn’t wear a hat to school in April of my 7th grade year; It was an uncomfortable push that I gave myself, but through that, I began to build confidence. I soon realized that it didn’t matter if I had hair or not because I was the same person I was before I went bald. While the experience was so difficult for me, it truly led me to be more confident, comfortable with myself, and learn how to surround myself with people who support me, not tear me down. 

In 2020, I spoke up formally/publicly about my experience on Instagram and other platforms for the first time. It took a lot of courage and made me remember a time that was both a physical and mental challenge for me. With that being said, I am so beyond happy that I did. This is the 2nd year I’ve spoken up about my experience, in hope of letting others know that it is ok to be different and that it is nothing to be ashamed of. I have also been working on fundraisers for Children With Hair Loss (CWHL), a nonprofit organization that makes free wigs for kids with medically related hair loss. When I began to embrace my diseases rather than hide them, I took a step back and realized how much this difficult process shaped my being for the better. Happy National Alopecia Awareness Month Everybody! Contact me with questions or ways to help! 

Ruth Prass

About the Author: Ruth is a sophomore at Deerfield high school where she plays soccer and basketball. She is an active member of her Israel club and Hebrew honors society. She belongs to Congregation BJBE and Congregation Beth Am. Ruth loves cooking, baking, exercising and hanging out with her friends. She loves spending her summers at camp at OSRUI.

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