This month is alopecia awareness month.Every year in September, Alopecia UK organise an event known as the ‘Big Weekend’ during alopecia awareness month. This year the ‘Big Weekend’ was in Glasgow, Scotland. This weekend of fun allows people with alopecia and supporters to meet others with hair loss whilst participating in entertaining activities.At the start of the event on Friday night, we all gathered together for a meet up and some of us tried on fun and silly hats to get everyone in the party spirit.During the conference on Saturday there were many fun activities, one of these was an opportunity to have yourself made up professionally. For some it was an opportunity to get made up for the very first time. Others hadn’t seen themselves with eyelashes or eyebrows since losing their hair. For many people it was a liberating experience.One of my favourite parts of the event was trying on all the different types of wigs, from multi-coloured rainbow wigs to long princess wigs!Several people had never met anyone else with the condition before. There was one girl who told me that her mum had just posted a picture on social media for the first time of her coming out to all of her friends and family with her Alopecia.
This was the perfect occasion to hear about other people’s stories which was both inspiring and encouraged confidence-building. For some this was the first time that they revealed their Alopecia in public, having been inspired by personal stories, and this is often the first step many take in dealing with the condition. For others they use this as a way to finally reveal themselves to their loved ones.
Professionals such as dermatologists were on hand to advise on treatment options and services available in getting wigs. The prizes ranged from wigs to getting a year’s supply of false eyelashes. Some people won wigs who had never owned a professional wig before and it was great to see the smiles on their faces when they got to try them on for the first time.
As we were in Scotland, we ended the day by having a ceilidh (pronounced kay-leigh) which is a traditional folk dance. Men showed up in kilts and live musicians encouraged everyone to dance in the traditional Scottish style to the sound of bagpipes.The celebrations continued on Sunday with a visit to Loch Lomond. To complete the treasure hunt we rode on bicycles looking for clues, and canoed round the loch solving riddles. Some of the clues were stuck on buoys and rafts, one of my team mates nearly fell in, but she joked that at least she wouldn’t have had to worry about getting her hair wet.
The event was like one big family get together as we are all linked by our experiences of living with Alopecia. It was also an opportunity to make lifelong friends who ‘just get it’. I have already begun the countdown to next year’s event which is in Birmingham.
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