Oscars incident brings awareness to alopecia

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Esther Addy | Flickr

Ma-Nogoy Faye, Advertising Director

Many historic moments took place at the 94th Academy Awards this year. However, overshadowing these moments came an action that put the audience and arguably the whole world — in complete shock. Following a joke by comedian Chris Rock comparing actress Jada Pinkett Smith to a character from the 90s movie titled “G.I Jane,” actor and Pinkett Smith’s husband Will Smith took to the stage to slap Rock in front of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars.

Prior to the slap, the audience seemed to find the “G.I Jane,” joke funny. However, Pinkett Smith was not amused. This was due to her announcement in early 2021 declaring her battle with alopecia, an autoimmune condition that causes chronic hair loss.

Various memes and jokes were made about the infamous and shocking event; however, rather than focusing on the drama between Smith and Rock — light should be shone on alopecia awareness and more importantly, misogynoir.

It’s important to address the debate on the protection of Black women and, in this case, one who was being ridiculed over her hairstyle.

In addition, while social media was divided on Smith’s violent response, with the shocking moment came overwhelming support from online users for Pinkett Smith’s condition.

Pinkett Smith first took to Instagram in December 2021 to share a video and update followers on her hair loss journey and struggles.

“Look at this line right here,” Pinkett Smith said in the video as she pointed to her scalp. “Now this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide, so I thought I’d just share it so y’all not asking any questions — but you know, mama’s going to put some rhinestones in there, and I’m going to make me a little crown.”

She shared pictures of her new bare patches that she noticed on her scalp. Less than six months later, she made the brave decision to go bald.

Millions came to Pinkett Smith’s defense and one user described her as a beacon for more alopecia awareness not only in the United States but worldwide.

“Jada is a CURRENT inspiration for SO many people who live with the same or similar subcategory of her condition,” a Twitter user tweeted.

While common, the condition was not well known and sparked conversation with other victims coming forth with their own stories.

“It’s great that it’s bringing awareness, but it’s almost bringing it out there for the wrong reasons,” Helen Rowlands, who has alopecia, told The Guardian. “The joke never should have been made.”

Although the infamous slap incident will be forever ingrained in everyone’s minds, one possible positive takeaway could be the awareness it brought for a condition that few knew little about.

Learn more about alopecia and how one can help here.