A woman with alopecia is celebrating her engagement with a stunning photo shoot where she removes the wig she has been wearing since the age of eight.
University of Houston-Clear Lake senior Makenzee Meaux, 21, was just a child when she was first diagnosed with the condition, which caused her hair to fall out and never grow back.
It all began after she got her hair cut into a bob at age eight. Upon turning up to school sporting her new ‘do, classmates teased Makenzee over a bald spot that the hairdresser had apparently missed.
The little girl told her mother about the taunts, and she looked over her child’s head and found that yes, she did have a bald spot.
Makenzee’s mother took her to the doctor and, after undergoing tests, she was diagnosed with alopecia universalis, an incurable kind of hair loss classified as an autoimmune disease. Otherwise entirely healthy, she subsequently lost all the hair on her body in less than six months.
Ever since then, wigs have been a part of Makenzee’s daily life. In particular, a wig made from natural hair that fits so securely that she can sleep and even swim in it, replacing it every three or four months.
Speaking with Cosmopolitan, Makenzee revealed that many people would assume she had cancer – and she didn’t correct them.
‘I never clarified because I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone — I’d avoid the subject completely,’ she said.
But then in high school, she met Bryan Ballard. When he learned of her condition, he wasn’t fazed in the least, even telling her she looked beautiful without her wig.
After dating for five years, the pair were engaged in May of this year. They enlisted The Frost Collective to take their photos in early November – and Makenzee planned something special.
She posed with her wig on for a number of the images with Bryan, but then had the photographer document her removing it before continuing on with the engagement shoot, her natural look on show.
‘I knew it was time for me to open up and stop hiding. I knew I wanted to expose myself and thought, “What better time to do it than when I’m next to Bryan, who makes me feel my most comfortable and confident?”‘ she told BBC.
Makenzee shared the photos on Facebook, writing in the post that ‘This is probably the most difficult thing I will ever do in my life.’
She goes on to talk about her diagnosis, about the bullying that followed and how meeting Bryan has helped her ‘be brave and realize that hair is not what makes you beautiful.’
The response to the post was huge, with more than 1,000 likes and hundreds of shares – not to mention hundreds of comments praising Makenzee.
‘I applaud you! You are a beautiful strong courageous woman. You are also very blessed to have found such a wonder man!’ wrote on commenter.
Another added: ‘I have alopecia as well and had to say that you’re STUNNING!’
Makenzee plans to walk down the aisle in October, 2018, with her wig, but adds that she will remove it for a number of her wedding photos – and possibly for her first dance.