General News of Sunday, 25 November 2018
The story of Samira, the ‘bald’ girl stigmatised, perceived as ‘gay’ because of a disease
In a world where growing hair as a woman is regarded 'glorious', especially when it's confirmed by the religion with the most believers, imagine having to live with an illness that renders you hairless or having to endure being ‘the girl with no hair to flaunt’ for years
As though that is not enough, you are stigmatized, and tagged as ‘gay’ because you decide to shave off the ‘little’ hair you have completely.
This, is exactly the difficult situation beautiful I.t engineer, Lahadi Samira has found herself in for over 20 years. Born with an autoimmune condition known as Alopecia areata also known as spot baldness, Samira started losing her hair at an early age of 2.
Bullying was a norm for her in school as her loss of hair earned her very mean names. Speaking on Citi TV, she narrated how she has had to deal with the trauma because of the illness.
“Your immune system fights your hair follicles, it sees them as a foreign material. Alopecia happens to be the most common auto immune disorder but because of the stigma attached to it, you end up hearing not so much about it because being a woman and losing your hair is a big deal. Initially, it started from age 5 but from recent pictures my mum showed to me, it started at about 2 but it was on and off so I lose the hair and it grows, and then at 4 when I lost it, that was it, I kept losing it until now. Being a kid, I got sick frequently because my immune system was tempered with just to grow hair but at 7, I told my dad I won’t do it anymore”.
“They called me all sort of names, from ‘Shaolin soccer’, I can’t tell you how many names they called me in school”, she explained.
Despite efforts by her parents to get their only daughter cured from a disease that was ‘destroying’ her, no medical procedure was successful. She resorted to braiding the parts of her scalp that had hair and ink tattooing the parts that were bald. After sometime she explained, even that plan failed.
"After that braiding, it (the hair) became so weak and I couldn’t put on the braids again so I had to put on wig caps. At every given moment, I have 15 wigs. On an average every month, I spend close to 1,000 buying the wig and close to 200 making them, so on an average, every month, I have to part with about a 1000 to a 1500 depending on the type of hair I want for a particular month which is ridiculous. The tattoos actually made it worse, everybody sort of tries to find some sort of preaching to me because I am wearing a hair tattoo, nobody asked why I did it”.
Talking about her life after she took the bold step and shaved off all of her hair, she said,
“I have been mistaken to be a lesbian, I have been denied entry into a taxi, the driver thought I was a lesbian so he decided not to pick me, it’s like my daily life now”.
Samira however cannot be bothered at this point in her life; it’s part of her as far as she is concerned and all she has to do is accept it and live life. She is also generous enough to help others with the condition with counselling to overcome the psychological effects of the disease.
“Right now, I’m having one of the greatest moments of my life”, she said.