Yesterday in What Else?, I linked to The Cut’s piece on alopecia, the autoimmune disease that “nearly one-third of women experience, in some form, in their lives”. That includes Jada Pinkett Smith. Specifically Jada is living with alopecia areata which “occurs more frequently among Black Americans”.
I also heard from a reader called “J” who shared what the last couple of days has been like for her and others in the alopecia community. Here is part of her message:
“The last day has been exhausting and sad. If people were to go on Instagram and see the alopecia community, And how we talk about the struggles we face with beauty standards and being bald, and the courage it takes to go outside... And how our loved ones, including our partners, see our vulnerability and what it takes to feel good, and how it affects them.
I'm not really seeing anyone talk about how it must have affected Jada having her medical condition being made fun of to an audience of millions. At most there is a brief sentence or two in tandem with her husband's actions. Nothing about the emotional toll other than a sentence about how she has been open about her struggles. She was stuck in that chair rolling her eyes at yet another person mocking her baldness due to a medical condition.”
“J” included with her message two posts on Instagram that may give us some insight into how Jada has been feeling lately.
We haven’t heard from Jada since it all went down. Just before the Oscars, however, she did put up two posts showing off her look. Because it was A LOOK.
To be honest, when Will and Jada first arrived on the carpet, and as we were planning our post-Oscars site coverage, I was prepping to write a post about her award season fashion – how it was one fire look after another all season. It seemed as though Jada…as she’d already said last week on IG about her personal hair history, how she had to conform to hair expectations for so many years, and how she’s come to revel in the freedom of “not giving two craps about what people think about this bald head of mine” …was leaning into her baldness, not working around it but accentuating it, as we saw at the Critics Choice Awards with that incredible headdress:
And all of it building up to the best of them all at the Oscars, in green Jean Paul Gaultier, one of the most spectacular dresses of the night, and a dress, with its high collar, and covering her entire upper body, and a huge full ruffled skirt and relatively minor slit on one side, that I think was INTENDED to offset her baldness. When you cover up your skin everywhere else on your body, the only skin that’s exposed is on your head. This choice of dress actually highlighted the fact that she has no hair.
It was a great fashion moment but it was also a bold personal choice – a defiant personal choice made even more poignant by her own reality. This moment of style celebration has been stolen from her. And while the conversation has predominantly been about whose fault that was, my appreciation to “J” for writing to me yesterday to remind me that Jada should be a bigger part of it.
Yours in gossip,