Dealing with hair loss
is something different people tackle in different ways. For Lauren Marcus, the star of cult Young Adult off-Broadway theatre show, Be More Chill, it involved writing a song.
Called 'Funeral' the song explains her feelings about losing her hair to the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata
She has also spoken openly about the recent and sudden loss of '99.7% of the hair on head' in social media posts and in an article written for Yahoo Lifestyle.
Explaining Alopecia Areata
Lauren Marcus has an acute form of the disorder which has affected the hair follicles on her scalp and parts of her body, resulting in patchy hair loss but without the loss of her eyebrows and eyelashes.
She tries to be positive about managing this new issue and is clear about the importance of talking candidly about Alopecia Areata in order to educate people and raise awareness. This is especially important given the hairloss the condition causes can often, upsettingly, be mistaken for cancer - something people with all forms of autoimmune alopecia
frequently point out.
Writing in Yahoo Lifestyle
, she says,"A lot of times I’ll be out and if I’m not wearing something around my head, I’ll hear little kids ask their parents, “Why does that girl have no hair?” And they’ll tell their kids to shut up and walk away, and I want to try to explain. Often people assume I have cancer. They’ll come up to me and tell me their stories, and when I say I have alopecia, they’ll say something like “Thank your lucky stars you don’t have cancer!” Of course I’m grateful that I don’t have cancer. But I’m still allowed to be upset that all my hair fell out." Continues below...
Woof. Okay. So...ready? Here goes. (Please excuse the lack of paragraph breaks here, and head to FB if you need more writing-clarity...don't have the patience to figure out how to put 'em in here!) I lost all my hair, guys. Like all of it except for a few itty bitty strands that were starting to make me feel like an old man with a bad combover. And then last night around midnight I decided to shave the rest of it off with the help of one of my best friends, who just so happens to be in St. Louis with me (thank god), working on another show while I work on THE HUMANS. (If you're anything like me, at this point in the post you may have just gone to my FB photos and scrolled through to see if you could detect any signs of hair loss over the last several months or years. If so, I admire your internet sleuthing ways!) The short version of the very, very long story is that I have alopecia. And because I just couldn't stop there, my body went the rarer route and developed "acute alopecia areata". This is A BRAND. NEW. LIFE. DEVELOPMENT. It began with a bald spot--I'm not kidding--two days before COMPANY opened in August, and progressed to me losing 99.7% of the hair on my head by yesterday. Most of it left me over Christmas. These have been five of the hardest, scariest, and more bizarre months of my adult life, and I am still figuring it out as I go, you know? AND IT'S STILL HAPPENING! What's next? Eyebrows? Eyelashes?? Who's to say?! When I'm back in March, if you have questions, we can talk allllllll about it then. I LOVE to talk about it! And Joe Iconis, the most supportive and loving husband in the goddamn WORLD (and who, ironically, has absolutely said to me in years past--more than once--that he finds bald women very attractive) will probably be beyond excited for me to have someone else to discuss every tiny, alopecia-ridden detail of the whole affair with.
Will only wear a wig whilst performing
Whether or not to wear a wig can be a bigger decision for people who have lost their hair - for whatever reason - than some may appreciate. For Marcus she says that, as her Be More Chill character - Brooke - has long blonde hair, as she used to, she will wear a wig on stage to continue to play the role. The feeling of having no hair of her own to flip, as required in the script, initially provided a painful reminder of what she was missing for the musical theatre actress, she admitted.
Off stage Lauren Marcus wears hats and scarves to cover her head, as well as rocking her natural bald look. She will not, however, wear a wig in her private, everyday life citing feeling uncomfortable about people who remember what she looked like with hair seeing her in a wig as the reason she isn't considering this option for now.
Although she she is clear that she didn't exactly sign up to be an Alopecia Areata spokesperson, she says being able to make an impact and help fans who reach out to her about their hair loss, does make her happy. "Even a few months ago I was frantically Googling, looking for somebody, some other actor, who’d had this and was open about it so I wouldn’t feel so alone," states Marcus.
She now joins a list of hugely successful, inspirational actors and athletes who are also keen to help others dealing with alopecia. This includes comedy actor Matt Lucas
, action movie and Dumbo star Joseph Gatt
, Gotham and Barry henchman Anthony Carrigan
and gold medal-winning Olympic cyclist Joanna Rowsell-Shand
Whilst Alopecia Areata treatment
is often possible for the scalp-only form in medically-suitable over 16s, most of these celebrities have the most severe form, Alopecia Universalis
, which cannot yet be effectively treated, though many proposed treatments are in development.