As society leans in to the fact that 'representation matters', people with the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata
have a huge opportunity to raise awareness of this hair loss
condition, coming in March 2019.
Inspirational Maltese actor Joseph Gatt, who has Alopecia Universalis, will star alongside the likes of Colin Farrell, Danny DeVito and Eva Green in the live-action remake of Disney's Dumbo by Tim Burton. The hotly anticipated film is expected to be a worldwide big screen blockbuster with Gatt playing a new character named Neils Skellig.
The powerful significance of many children - and adults - having the chance to see someone with the same struggles as them feature in a big movie, where their Alopecia is not a factor in the storyline, should not be underestimated.
Alopecia role models
Thor actor Gatt is an active, high profile supporter of Alopecia Areata charities and always quick to help share his own experiences
and struggles with the most severe form of autoimmune alopecia.
Whilst more celebrities appear to be opening up about their own experiences with Alopecia Areata, which causes patchy hair loss to the scalp-only, or Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis
(baldness of the head and from head to toe, respectively), given the condition affects roughly 2-3 per cent of the population, there are still relatively few role models out there. Continues below...
Among those showing people with autoimmune hair loss that it is possible to succeed regardless of their condition, include former Olympian Joanna Rowsell Shand
, comedian, basketball player Charlie Villanueva
and actor Matt Lucas
- who has also appeared in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland remake, as well as its follow-up, Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Gatt's friend, the Gotham and Barry star, Anthony Carrigan
is another alopecian who speaks regularly and confidently about his hairloss issues. Carrigan developed Alopecia Universalis part way through a series he was filming and often talks about the impact it had on his life, emotionally as well as on his career, and how he deals with it
Like Gatt, Villanueva, Lucas, and Rowsell-Shand, he has definitely not let this highly visible condition hold him back, and has used his fame to help empower others living with Alopecia Areata in all its forms.
Whilst Alopecia Areata treatment
can be possible for those aged 16 years and over, this applies solely to the scalp-only form. Currently there is no proven, safe and effective treatment for Alopecia Totalis or Universalis, though this is something many researchers are currently trying to develop, with the first ever autoimmune hair loss solution hoped to be available from around 2021