After Oscars Uproar, New Focus on Jada's Hair-Loss Disorder

Jada Pinkett Smith has long talked about her struggles with alopecia
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2022 8:28 AM CDT
After Oscars Uproar, New Focus on Jada's Hair-Loss Disorder
Jada Pinkett Smith arrives at the Oscars on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Whether people are falling on the side of #TeamRock or #TeamSmith after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars on Sunday night, there seems to be nearly universal support for Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who was the subject of Rock's joke about her shaved head that started it all. Pinkett Smith has long been vocal about her alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss, and she got plenty of backup on Twitter after the Oscars hubbub, per CNN. "Jada is a CURRENT inspiration for SO many people who live with the same or similar subcategory of her condition," one fan wrote. CNN commentator Ana Navarro-Cardenas noted, "For the almost 7 million people and their loved ones who suffer from alopecia, it is not a joke," posting a December article that shed some light on Pinkett Smith's alopecia journey.

The 50-year-old actress first revealed her condition in 2018, during a Red Table Talk episode on Facebook. "It was one of those times in my life where I was literally shaking with fear," she said of the first time she noticed her hair was falling out in clumps, per CNN. "That's why I cut my hair and why I continue to cut it." ThePrint explains how the disorder causes the body's immune system to specifically attack hair follicles, which are normally protected from the immune system in people without alopecia. Alopecia often causes hair on the head to fall out in patches that are around the size of a quarter, though in more severe cases, patients can also lose hair from other parts of their body, such as eyebrows and eyelashes.

About one-third of all women will suffer some form of hair loss, especially after menopause, per Harvard Medical School. But Black and Hispanic women have a "significantly greater" chance of developing alopecia, according to a peer-reviewed study published in 2018. In December, Pinkett Smith posted a video update on Instagram, showing off her freshly shaved head and a new line on her head where hair doesn't appear to be growing at all. "Mama's gonna have to take it down to the scalp so nobody thinks she got brain surgery or something," she wrote. "Me and this alopecia are going to be friends ... period!" As for the new bald spot, Pinkett Smith said, "Mama's gonna put some rhinestones in there. Mama's gonna make me a little crown." More from People and Us Weekly on how Pinkett Smith has addressed her condition over the years. (More Jada Pinkett Smith stories.)

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