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  • Hi, BTN.

  • My name's Stef and I'm going to tell you about growing up with a condition

  • you might not know that much about.

  • It all started when I was six years old.

  • That was when I first realised my hair was falling out.

  • It was really scary and confusing.

  • I kept waiting for someone to break out the magic wand

  • and just make me better but it didn't happen like that.

  • Instead, the doctor told me I had alopecia.

  • Alopecia is a hair loss condition which has no cure.

  • Basically, everyone has a little army of soldiers in their body

  • called the immune system.

  • It's supposed to protect us from nasty things like coughs and colds.

  • My soldiers, unfortunately, they're not the sharpest crayons in the pack.

  • They see my hair and they attack it, which is why it falls out.

  • There are three different kinds of alopecia...

  • ..which is when you get patches of hair loss on the scalp.

  • ..which is when you lose all your hair on your head

  • and that's what I have now. And...

  • ..which is when you lose all your hair on your body,

  • including, like, your eyebrows and your eyelashes.

  • The good news for you guys is that it's not contagious.

  • You can't catch it from anyone.

  • And the good news for me is that I haven't had a bad hair day in ages.

  • And what wardrobe would be complete without...novelty beanies?

  • Come here! Come here!

  • You can see the family resemblance.

  • Now I know how to laugh about it

  • but as a kid it was really tough having a condition

  • that makes you look so different,

  • especially when I finally went bald in year six.

  • It had a massive impact on me

  • and I was so sad for a really long time about it and very insecure.

  • I thought that being different would put a target on my back

  • with things like bullying and teasing,

  • so I kept it a secret for a really long time.

  • This is the first wig I ever got when I was about 12 years old.

  • And I'd already done a presentation to my year level

  • about having alopecia, so everybody knew.

  • And when I came to school for the first time wearing it,

  • all of my friends went running up to me like,

  • "Stef, Stef, it looks so good."

  • And I can actually still wear this.

  • I'm thinking I might dye it a fun colour like blue or purple.

  • What do you guys reckon? You might have to help me convince my mum!

  • These ones are really awesome because you can do things

  • like surfing, swimming, sport and they don't come off.

  • Here, look, I'll show you.

  • So if you wanted to do a bit of head banging,

  • it's not going to come off.

  • Good wigs can cost thousands of dollars,

  • but thanks to people who donated their hair to charity,

  • I was able to get one.

  • What it did was help me fit in when all I wanted to do was belong,

  • and it made me feel safe.

  • Because when I went outside without my wig on,

  • I would have people stare at me

  • and sometimes say nasty things.

  • As I got older, I started to realise

  • I didn't have to look like everyone else.

  • That's when I finally stopped wearing my wig every day.

  • I thought that having my condition made me ugly.

  • Now I think that, you know, I'm not the kind of beautiful

  • that you'll see on the covers of magazines,

  • but I'm my kind of beautiful and somehow that's even better.

  • I think there's more beauty in who you are and what you do

  • than there is in what you look like.

  • And by sharing my story,

  • I hope other kids with alopecia will start to see themselves

  • as being beautiful too.

Hi, BTN.

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Rookie Report: International Alopecia Day - Behind the News

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