Guest Blogger Alexandria Moree shares her experience living in a foreign country with alopecia.
Chauve Chic à Paris- Alexandria Moree
We have all traveled with our wonderfully exposed domes around the United States, whether for business or pleasure, I hope more so for pleasure. Whilst travel itself poses a many challenge, ‘where on earth is that cupcake shop mom told me to go to? or ‘is it exit 22A or B?! Quick!, there always remains the comfort of knowing the language, culture, and general customs of the people around. After all it is still one’s home country! Regrettably this means that the endless questions of ‘how is treatment going?’ or ‘what’s with the haircut’, or have you put sunscreen on?’continue to impede our daily lives. Honestly who hasn’t sat around, martini in hand, thinking of all the witty - okay - potentially spiteful responses you could have dished out to the overly interested lady in the checkout counter? Personally, I admit guilt on several occasions.
So if this is intense being around a population of similarly spoken and cultured people, what must it be like to shed the comfort of a known language and social ques and delve baldhead first into another country? My answer….wonderful!
Firstly, I in no way speak for every country round this great big beautiful world, nor for that matter all of Europe, however if you’re thinking about a trip to the ‘City of Light’, I can absolutely illuminate you as to what living here has taught me.
While the questions about my lack of hair have all but ceases after moving to Paris, I did fin that Parisians seemed much warmer than I had anticipated. Being that I do stand out so much physically, I am instantly recognizable, however not in a way you would think here in Paris. Every morning I frequent the same cafe for a double espresso and a croissant, where after a week I was on the first name basis with the owner. This may seem normal for Americans, but here in France, I assure you it is nothing less than a big deal. Charlotte, the owner, affectionately calls me ‘chouchou’, knows my order by heard, and has invited me to her house when I didn’t have anywhere to go for Christmas. The lovely gentleman who helps me every Sunday at the market warmly welcomes me with ‘bonjour ma belle’ and always throws me a orange to enjoy on the walk home. At my favorite crepe restaurant, I need but walk in the door and two chefs start my order and and come around the counter for a ‘bisous’ no matter how long the line may be.
I have been told time and time again, “je suis toujours content vour ton sourire!” ( I am always happy to see your smile). Alopecia has given me the gift of self-confidence, a trait which for many is the goal at the end of a log, hard emotional roller coaster. Perhaps at first I was recognized because I was the only bald client to walk through the doors on a daily basis, but today it is because I have established relationships with these people and I am always greeted with a smile and warm welcome. I am the American girl who likes to practice her French at the market or the girl who likes double espressos who always wears bright colors. Having alopecia defines us; it is something that shapes how we grow and eventually who we become. The hardest part is remembering that it is only as definitive as we allow it to be.
Another country, a different language, an entirely new culture and I am NOT ‘the bald girl.’ I’m me and that is all the definition I need.
“Be who you were created to be and you will set the world on fire.”