By now, you would have definitely heard of the infamous Oscars slap and seen a meme or two (or maybe, 50) about it.
Quick recap: Oscars presenter Chris Rock joked about Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness, and her husband Will Smith promptly responded by storming the stage to give the comedian a slap. Will has since apologised, saying that his emotional outburst was triggered by the joke about Jada’s medical condition – alopecia areata.
The actress first shared about her hair loss in a May 2018 episode of Red Table Talk, an online show that she co-hosts with her daughter, Willow Smith, and her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris.
In response to questions about why she was wearing a turban, Jada revealed that she had been struggling with hair loss. “It was terrifying when it first started,” she said. “I was in the shower one day and then (I noticed) just handfuls of hair in my hands… it was one of those times in my life where I was literally shaking with fear.” Jada then shared that this was the reason she decided to cut her hair, and why she has continued to sport a shorter hairdo since.
In Dec last year, she took to Instagram to share that she had opted to shave her head. Her alopecia had caused a bald spot to appear at the top of her head that was difficult to hide. She wrote: “Mama’s gonna have to take it down to the scalp so nobody thinks she got brain surgery or something. Me and this alopecia are going to be friends … period!”
So, what exactly is alopecia areata and why does it cause such sudden hair loss? We break it down below.