Albion native who has alopecia featured in SELF magazine

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 May 2018 at 9:59 am

Joyce LaLonde has autoimmune condition that made her hair fall out

Photos courtesy of Joyce LaLonde: Joyce LaLonde hasn’t shied away from going bald. When she started to lose her hair, some people encouraged her to get a wig. “Societal standards of beauty are incredibly off base in many ways, and the significance of hair is one of those ways,” she writes in SELF magazine.

Joyce LaLonde has been Rapunzel during Halloween, with her flowing mane of red hair a highlight of the costume. For much of her childhood and in college, LaLonde’s red hair was a big part of her identity.

Now the Albion native, 22, is bald after losing her hair. She has alopecia, an autoimmune condition that causes hair to fall out. She started to notice the hair loss a year ago.

LaLonde graduated from Syracuse University in May 2017. She and her friends celebrated that milestone by going on a trip to Central America. On that trip she noticed a bald spot on her head. In the next three months, more bald spots appeared as her hair became thin. Finally, in August she shaved her head.

LaLonde posted a selfie on social media, letting people know she had alopecia. She said she was determined to rock the bald look. More than 1,000 people liked her post and gave her strong affirmation.

She had a hashtag about alopecia on her post, and that is how SELF found her and reached out to her.

Almost a year after her hair started to fall out, LaLonde isn’t optimistic it will come back. She has changed her diet, exercised more and made other changes for her health. In some cases, those changes have made a difference for people with alopecia.

Many people who see her assume she has cancer or some other disease. In reality, LaLonde said she may be the healthiest she’s ever been, she just doesn’t have any hair.

Joyce’s long strawberry blonde hair was a big part of her identity growing up.

This week she is one of seven women with alopecia featured by SELF magazine. Lalonde is the first of seven women profiled in the magazine.

She says society is very beauty focused and attaches too much significance to hair. She acknowledges going bald is difficult.

“I cried in the process of losing my hair,” she said.

However, when she shaved her head, “it was liberating.”

For some people with alopecia, going bald is like grieving the loss of a limb, she said.

LaLonde works at Syracuse University as a student communications specialist. She earned her bachelor’s degree there in public relations and policy studies.

Doctors don’t know why she developed alopecia. Not knowing the cause makes it difficult to treat.

LaLonde is the daughter of Steve and the late Dr. Kathy LaLonde. Dr. LaLonde also went bald, and would succumb to cancer at age 54. Joyce said she is grateful her baldness isn’t from a serious disease.

“I feel very fortunate,” she said.

And her friends and family “have all been incredible.”

LaLonde had never heard of alopecia until a year ago. Some kids get it in elementary and middle school.

“I have it easy, really,” she writes in SELF. “I made it to 22 with a head full of Rapunzel hair. I had hair through middle school.”

To see the article in SELF, click here.

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