New Webinar for Women with Alopecia Areata - Hosted by Women with Alopecia Areata!
In September, Dr. Angela Rodgers sent us an email saying that she and Dr. Renee Thomason would like to host a new webinar series for women with alopecia areata. We were immediately won over by the idea, and the “Let’s Talk” series has proven quite popular since its October 26 premier. Here, Drs. Rodgers and Thomason, both of whom have alopecia areata, discuss the origins of their webinar and their goals for it.
We are both board certified family physicians with alopecia, who share a common interest advocating for the alopecia community.
We met at the NAAF Conference in 2015 in Garden Grove, California, and immediately recognized a shared passion for providing education and support for those struggling with the psychological impact of alopecia. In the past, we had each been challenged with internal and external obstacles involved in living with hair loss, and this personal experience had led us on a journey to educate ourselves and seek out therapy as well as other resources to embrace these struggles. We came together and discussed our concerns that many individuals in the alopecia community seem to be impacted by similar problems, such as isolation, shame, sadness, and self-esteem issues, but do not feel like it is okay to talk about these issues. Many people do not receive professional help like therapy or life coaching and do not know how to seek assistance. There are some amazing mental health professionals affiliated with NAAF, but it is not easy for individuals to acknowledge this aspect of alopecia as an issue let alone to access mental health resources. Because of our own life experiences as women with alopecia, we to focus on helping this community. And that is how the webinar series “Let’s Talk: Open Conversations for Women with Alopecia” was formed.
Before the webinar began, it was important for us to hear from our community to learn what they wanted to know more about, so we created an online survey asking women how much the psychosocial aspects of alopecia impact their life, what resources they use for their mental health, and what they want to learn more about. We also collected demographic information. In total, we gathered 100 responses to the survey. Then we created a plan for a webinar series with multiple episodes addressing the top areas where women wanted more education and resources.
The series includes the following episodes:
- “Our Journey: The Paths of Two Doctors from Diagnosis to Embracing Their Worth” (aired October 26)
- “Medical Management of Alopecia: Traditional vs Alternative Medicine” (aired November 8)
- “Your Journey: Addressing the Psychological Challenges of Alopecia” (aired November 30)
- “Own Your Beauty: Tips on Makeup, Wigs, and More!” (aired December 7, 2020)
- “Real Talk: Addressing the Diversity of Cultures and Colors of Alopecian’s in Society Today” (aired Janaury 27, 2021)
- “More than Surviving: How to Thrive in Daily Social and Relational Aspects of Living with Alopecia” (aired Febraury 13, 2021)
- "Autoimmunity and Me: Optimizing your Health While Living with an Autoimmune Condition” (air date to come)
Our first episode, which had 119 live viewers, was a great introduction to the webinar series. We both shared our journey of living with alopecia as young women of color from humble beginnings who, despite life’s challenges, not only achieved our dream of becoming physicians but also learned how to embrace our true self with hair loss. The second episode, with 104 live viewers, featured two guests — widely-recognized, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Natasha Mesinkovska and renowned, classically trained ayurvedic physician Dr. Manisha Kshirsagar — who educated our viewers on the traditional and naturopathic therapies for alopecia. All episodes are being recorded and can be found on the NAAF YouTube website. And to register for future live episodes in 2020, visit www.naaf.org/lets-talk-webinar-series.
We hope the future episodes will continue to fulfill a need in our community. Our goal is to form a sisterhood within the alopecia community to make room for open conversations about the struggles women experience in living with alopecia. Viewers have thanked us for creating this webinar series and have volunteered to help with future efforts. Some viewers have even initiated mental health services, which is amazing. Our mission is to support and educate women with alopecia with a focus on promoting psychological healing, and this webinar series is our way of continuing our dedication to this work. We have many more exciting plans for the future.
We want to thank all of the NAAF community for your support of our work. If you have any questions or would like to support this effort, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and join our Facebook group. We also are both on Instagram @AngieRenee and @DrReneeThomason.