Students Beyond The Halls; Abbie Amazeen is “More Than Her Condition”

Reagan Amazeen, Journalist

Every time students step into school, the whole day is spent glancing at strangers. The occasional eye contact with the girl you follow on social media but never have spoken to, smiling at classmates, knowing someone’s name through rumors spread. You think you have a decent idea of them, but how much do you really know about the students in your halls? At Ipswich High School, freshman student Abbie Amazeen suffers from Alopecia Totalis, a hair loss condition with which people seem unfamiliar.

Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss. Although you may have never heard of this before, 147 million people (roughly 2% of the population) deal with Alopecia worldwide. The condition is not harmful to someone’s physical health but can put a large hindrance on mental health, anxiety, and stress. Typically, the hair will fall out in chunks, then progress through bald patches on the scalp. The amount of hair loss varies from person to person, with there being a few different types of Alopecia out there. As for Abbie’s case, she has Alopecia Totalis. Alopecia Totalis is a form of Alopecia in which a person diagnosed will lose every hair on their head.

From the beginning, Abbie informs us that this process was not easy. She first discovered her hair was balding when her mother was braiding her hair back in February of 2020. “I woke up one morning because I wanted my mom to french braid my hair for school. She saw the spots and took me to the dermatologist right away.” The diagnosis process was a big one, from thyroids getting tested, to seeing many different doctors and specialists, until she was finally under the correct diagnosis and could begin treatment. 

The professionals put her under many different types of treatments, such as steroid shots in the scalp, special shampoos to stimulate hair growth, acid topical solutions, but nothing was seeming to work. Her hair was not growing back regardless of the many treatments she tried. By the end of May, her hair was nearly gone. This time, she was completely bald except for a few patches of long hair. Abbie expresses how difficult it was for her to progressively lose her most complimented feature. Before her condition, Abbie had beautiful natural bouncy curls. To be told it might never come back was hard on her.

As if the process of losing her hair was not hard enough, Abbie found herself a victim of bullying. With having classmates attempting to pull her wig off, or make jokes out of the fact that she is bald, it was challenging for her to hold a smile. “It’s hard when people use my condition to get in my head. Like I’ll say something annoying and kids will bring up the fact I am bald as a comeback. It gets tiring when people only see me for my alopecia.” Abbie says it was challenging to regain confidence. With looking in the mirror and now going out just to be constantly reminded of it, Abbie tells us that it was hard for her to feel pretty again.

By speaking to Abbie’s mother, Pam Amazeen, Pam expresses the heartbreak in hearing what was going on outside of the home. “You know, hearing what some of those kids said about Abbie made me want to go knock on their doors and have a long chat with their mothers. I’m sure they would be disgusted at the things their children are saying to mine.”

With the constant social pressure, Abbie tells us she would always try to hide her hair loss. When she had just a few bald patches, she would use root coverup to shade in her spots. She tried hair toppers but was frustrated by how unnatural it looked. She got a few free wigs from a program called Wigs for Kids, but did not like the appearance of them. Although, she ended up visiting this amazing woman in Danvers who makes and sells wigs. She tried on a blonde wig, provided by the woman, and fell in love. Her confidence came back that day when she realized how pretty she looked with it on. With this, she decided to shave her entire head by the end of June. 

Despite the hardships, Abbie has grown immensely due to her condition. Abbie informs us, “I’ve learned to live with it. I used to hide my head all the time and never leave the house without my wig. Now, I go to work without it. It’s about growth and accepting who you are.” She has also gained confidence due to the amount of support she has received from schoolmates, friends, and family. “It’s beautiful to see the things some of Abbie’s schoolmates would send her way”, Pam emphasized.

Not only was Abbie receiving support from her peers, but she was also receiving an immense amount of love through the social media platform “TikTok”. Abbie created a video, highlighting her hair loss process, which got over two and a half million views. The comment section was flooded with kind words, and it even reached people who struggle with Alopecia as well, who felt safe to share their own stories. Abbie informs us that reaching out to people on social media helped her regain her confidence. She was happy to help others and received help as well. Abbie currently has 16,600 followers on her TikTok platform and continues to put out motivational content for her viewers struggling with hair loss.

Abbie tells us that the most important thing she took out of this was to be kind to everyone. “I’ve learned to be kinder to people. After having people attack me for my condition, I don’t want others to get bullied for being different. You don’t know what people go through, so just be kind to everyone.” Take the time to smile at others. Get to know a stranger. You have no idea what goes on outside those school hallways.