By Ben Wheeler
MEET the stunning woman who is finally embracing her alopecia, years after cruel childhood bullies dubbed her as ‘Bald Spice’, the sixth member of the Spice Girls.
Jessica Ward, 31, from Los Angeles, California has been living with alopecia areata, a condition in which hair is lost from some or all the body, since the age of 12.
Images show the Freelance TV Producer both with and without her wig, although she insists despite often wearing one she isn’t shy about revealing her baldness.
Jessica started by revealing her struggle with the condition during adolescence and how her loss of hair and mean comments from her peers affected her.
“I was 12 when my hair started thinning and was teased by my classmates who would call me names like Bald Spice,” she said.
“My family doctor told me it was hormone related since I had just started puberty and that the hair would fill in over time, so I just started to deal with it and laughed off the mean comments.
“But high school was a lot harder, I felt so ugly and avoided mirrors because I was so insecure.
“Finally, at the age of 23 I got a biopsy that confirmed I had alopecia areata. I was devastated to know I would never have a thick head of hair but relieved to finally have an answer.
“I started wearing the ugliest costume wigs that were so obvious, it was definitely a journey to get to the human hair wigs and now I have good quality one’s people can’t even tell.”
Jessica went on to discuss how she has dealt with her condition since her diagnosis, including how her love of baking has been a release.
“I’ve been baking since I was eight, which I now realise has been a release for dealing with my alopecia for the past 19 years,” she said.
“I’m in the process of publishing my own cookbook and competed on a TV show called cupcake wars in 2012 where I came runner-up.
“I’ve also met a woman named Amy Gibson through her website createdhair.com, she’s been my spirit guide, helping me design the perfect wigs and talking with me whenever I’ve had a bad day.
“She also has alopecia and is a great mentor. She asked me if I would do a news interview with her showing the process of what it’s like to glue a wig on.
“I was so scared to expose my head on TV, but that interview changed me, and I realised I was finally ready to shave my head and stop gluing on the wigs.
“In June last year I wrote a blog post sharing my story, posted my pictures on social media and went to work without my wig, it was the scariest but most liberating thing I had ever done.
“I am also now in the process of starting a beauty campaign called #LiveYourBeauty to inspire women in a similar position to embrace themselves.”
Finally, Jessica expanded on how she feels about her condition today thanks to the help of her friends and family as well as giving advice to anyone else struggling to come to terms with an alopecia diagnosis.
“I feel more like myself after coming out about my alopecia, it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” she said.
“Even if I’m wearing a wig I let people know and sometimes I go out without a wig on, it just depends on my mood.
“My friends and family love the person I am now. They’ve noticed a difference in my confidence and even think I look better without a wig, I couldn’t be this open without their support.
“To anyone struggling with the condition – the journey is hard, but embracing your alopecia will make the journey so much more rewarding.
“Take your time going through the motions and steps of alopecia and don’t do anything until you are ready, but don’t stay comfortable for too long.
“The feeling of freedom cannot be compared to hiding under a wig.”
For more information see Jessica’s blog http://www.lovesweetmess.com/