On Wednesday, Jada Pinkett Smith hosted a series of “Red Table Talk” shows about alopecia, an autoimmune disease she and 147 million others around the world have that causes hair loss.
Of course, alopecia became a topic of conversation after the Oscars, when husband Will Smith slapped host Chris Rock after mocking Pinkett Smith’s tight haircut.
“Given what I’ve been through with my own health and what happened at the Oscars, thousands of people have reached out to me with their stories,” Pinkett Smith said on her show Wednesday.
And she reached out to others, including Kevin Aldridge, editor of the Cincinnati Enquirerwho wrote a column after the Oscars about his own wife’s struggles with alopecia and how it’s no joke.
“I saw firsthand the emotional toll her hair loss took at once,” he wrote. “I dried her tears, affirmed her beauty and held her hand – and even the razor and scissors – as she made the excruciating choice several years ago to shave all her hair off.”
After the Oscars, Jada Pinkett Smith reached out
Pinkett Smith saw the column on USA TODAY and invited Kevin and his wife Nichole to be on her alopecia shows. They tape the show at Smith’s house in Los Angeles.
“I’m taking this time to give our alopecia family an opportunity to talk about what it’s like to have this condition and to educate people about what alopecia really is,” said Pinkett Smith. .
The appearance of the Aldridge almost did not happen. The first email sent by the production team went to Kevin’s spam folder. A few weeks passed. Then they found Nichole on Facebook.
“In our business, I mean, nothing ever really surprises you 100%, but I’d be lying if I told you that I thought, you know, Jada Pinkett Smith or Will Smith would have read this article and liked it. “, said Kevin. “It was a bit critical.”
Here is what he wrote:
“I cannot defend or condone Smith’s violent act, but I understand his instinct to protect his wife at this time better than most. You see, my wife Nichole also has alopecia, and there’s nothing funny about her struggle.
“Smith missed a tremendous opportunity by using his fist instead of his voice to educate America and empower the millions of people with alopecia.”
For the Smiths, seeing him and loving him, and then wanting to talk to them, is “super rewarding,” Kevin said.
And not because he was able to appear in the series.
“What made me happiest was that my wife had the opportunity to be on the national stage so that the country and maybe even the world could see what I see every day, her strength, her courage, how she inspires other women who are struggling with this and even women who are not struggling with this.
“For a woman, losing her hair and having no choice in the matter is not nothing.”
Despite Chris Rock’s Joke, Alopecia Isn’t Funny
Nichole and Kevin brought Pinkett Smith a bald Barbie doll. She loved it. Women have tied up stories of steroid injections to try and save their hair – dozens of strokes into their scalp every month to try and get the smallest hair growth. The most punches Nichole ever received was 47, she heard of others who received 80.
The two decided the pain and the process wasn’t worth it and embraced a shaved head.
“Once you make up your mind and do it, it’s the most liberating thing in the world to get rid of hair,” Nichole said, “to stop hiding behind wigs and weaves and braids.”
That doesn’t mean it’s an easy decision.
“You hear ‘you’re brave, you’re brave’ and it’s all factored in, but would I prefer my hair? Absolutely,” she said. “I just want the choice to be able to become bald. I want to have the choice of whether I can shave my hair or not.”
She also wants to normalize alopecia. Most people know someone who has it, but they just don’t realize it, she says.
Nichole started shaving her head 10 years ago when she worked in an elementary school. She worried about what the children were going to say. They didn’t say anything.
“And I was like, OK, well, they really don’t pay attention to you like that,” she recalled. “You may think people pay attention to you, but no one really pays attention to you like that.”
‘Are you two preparing to be in GI Jane 3 and 4?’
That changed after the Oscars: “When I went to work after that slap, I felt like people were paying attention.
“I felt like a bald woman, all eyes were on me. And I didn’t like it. And it took me back. It took me back to when I was shaved my head for the first time. I was so insecure. I thought I was past that.
She now works in a children’s hospital. After the Oscars and the slap in the face, nobody said anything, she said, “but I just felt like people were peeking.”
Then it got worse.
Rock’s joke was directed at Pinkett Smith and her shaved haircut: “Jada, I love you. ‘GI Jane 2’, can’t wait to see it.”
The first GI Jane movie starred star Demi Moore with a shaved head.
Nichole also has a friend with alopecia. They were walking around after the Oscars when a man across the street yelled at them, “Hey, are you two getting ready to be in GI Jane 3 and 4?”
“It was beautiful,” Nichole said. “And I’m so mad at myself because I didn’t say anything. And I think I didn’t say anything because I was too shocked to say anything.
She has a lot to say now.
“I want people to understand that hair isn’t the end of everything. The world puts so much emphasis on hair. And so it makes people hide behind it. That’s why so many people with alopecia consult. They are depressed. They will never tell anyone. They always sleep next to their husbands with wigs.
“I just want people to be more compassionate, more understanding, think before they speak.”
Pinkett Smith also had a lot to say about her show, including her husband, Rock, and Oscar night.
“Now about Oscar night. My deepest hope is that these two intelligent and capable men will have the opportunity to heal, to talk about it and to reconcile,” she said. “The state of the world today, we need them both, and we all need each other more than ever. . Until then, Will and I are continuing to do what we have been doing for the past 28 years. And it’s continuing to understand this thing called living together.
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