Bald and beautiful

Alisha Shinde
Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Ketaki Jani, who suffers from alopecia or hair loss, has not only overcome her challenges but also inspires and empowers others to fight the taboo

We face challenges on a daily basis, be it at home, in our personal space and at the work front. For some, the hurdles are a lot more but when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Ketaki Jani is an extraordinary individual, who inspires us to fight our battles and emerge stronger. An alopecia patient, she suffers from baldness, but this braveheart decided to fight back the stigma. Recently, she even walked the ramp for an event that was held in the city. 

Jani has not only fought her own battle but has also raised her voice to sensitise society about those suffering from the disorder. Being a trendsetter in her own unique way, she has motivated several others around her by tirelessly creating awareness of alopecia (hair loss), especially empowering women by telling them how to overcome their challenges. In our country, it is not socially acceptable for a woman to be bald because of age old beliefs. But with changing times, many women have chosen to shave their head.

Jani, an Ahmedabad-born and Pune-based government employee and a mother of two, who lost her hair to alopecia became the first person to make it to an international beauty pageant and win a title. She lost her hair at the age of 40 in a matter of one-and-a-half months. “I was leading a normal life like any other woman and everything was going great but then one day, I woke up to find a huge bald spot on my head, with my hair fallen out on the pillow. I visited the doctor only to learn that the condition that I was suffering from is untreatable,” she says. 

Even after a series of consultations, Jani was slipping into depression which was normal. However, she adds that coming out of it was a choice that she made. “I accepted the truth and embraced my baldness, I knew I had to walk in society with dignity. Despite all the painful questions, it was crucial for me to accept that even though I was bald I had a beautiful soul, which is more important than physical appearance,”  says Jani. 
Acceptance wasn’t easy at all, but her children were very supportive. It was then that she decided to ditch the scarf and step out with confidence and face the world. 

Jani points out that people asked her all sorts of questions, whether she was suffering from a deadly disease, or was cursed or if she was a widow and so on. “It is upsetting to know that even though there are over 1 million cases of alopecia in India, people know so little about it, because of which there is little acceptance of those suffering from the medical condition,” says Jani. What is alarming is that there are several female patients who have committed suicide, and then there are many others who are ill treated by their own family members and abandoned as they don’t have hair. 

“There is no organisation in India which creates awareness of the disorder and provides shelter to such patients, who otherwise are healthy. I want to change that narrative by bringing the affected people together, and help them understand that they are beautiful and that they too should lead a normal life, the way they used to earlier,” she says.

To connect with Jani and to understand how to support people suffering from alopecia you can like her Facebook community ‘Support & Accept Aelopecia with Ketaki Jani’.

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