In an open letter posted to Facebook, American actor Joseph Gatt has opened up about how his professional career has in many ways been shaped by his hair loss.
The star of Thor and Star Trek: Into Darkness who is also about to join the cast of the hit zombie TV series Z Nation writes that he first started losing his hair when he was 11.
“As most of you know,” he begins, “I have Alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack its own hair follicles, thus preventing hair growth. It doesn't affect the body in any other way and is not contagious.”
The actor goes on to explain that all of his hair fell out by the time he was 14, and that he has been “pretty much the same ever since.” He adds that the early years of his hair loss were, predictably, very tough, with teasing, bullying, ignorant comments, discrimination and judgements.
“I didn't see a way forward. I didn't leave the house. If I did it was always with a cap on,” he writes. Worse still the actor says that all but one of his friends deserted him because few people understood what Alopecia Areata was back then.
To be more precise, the actor has Alopecia Universalis, which causes total hair loss from all of the head and body (its more common sister condition Alopecia Areata usually causes patchy hair loss of the scalp only). Even now, Alopecia Universalis is not well understood and is extremely difficult to treat which perhaps explains how doctors around the world are looking at cancer drugs as a possible treatment option.
“Doctors experimented on me by injecting me with all kinds of things and rubbing all manner of expensive stuff into my scalp,” writes Gatt. “Once I was treated as a lab rat while a doctor examined me and injected me in front of hundreds of medical students.”
Gatt says that his Alopecia forced him make a choice: to give up and end his life or to reinvent himself, to use his hair loss as a reason “to create a better me” that he and others could love.
He says that the fact that he is still here today is proof that he chose the latter. He went to drama school, started going to the gym and the rest is history. “I feel blessed to have Alopecia,” he says. “Without it I would not have been forced to make those difficult decisions and fight those battles that have brought me to the blessed life I currently have. Without Alopecia, ironically, I probably would not be living my dream as a successful actor.”
In the moving Facebook post which has attracted hundreds of ‘loves’ and ‘likes’ Gatt also writes about his involvement with the American hair loss organisation The Children’s Alopecia Programme (CAP), whose stated goal is to help any child in need who is living with hair loss due to all forms of Alopecia. “What CAP do for these kids is something I would've killed for when I was a kid,” says Gatt. “The kids feel loved and special and like they're allowed to be regular kids, without concerning themselves with the stigma of their condition.”
It was his friend Anthony Carrigan, star of the hit Batman prequel TV series Gotham, who introduced Gatt to CAP and the two have now helped out at various events designed to give children with hair loss a great day out.
Both Gatt and Carrigan are wonderful role models for children, and living proof that hair loss doesn’t mean that you have to shy away from people or, indeed, from the public eye.
While children should always be referred to their GP at any signs of hair loss, adults are more prone to a number of hair loss conditions but for anyone over the age of 16, help, treatment recommendations and support from specialists is readily available following a free trichocheck either in person or online.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.