Houston area hairstylist shines lights on alopecia after Oscars confrontation

Alopecia is an auto-immune disorder that leads to hair loss

HOUSTON – It’s the slap heard around the world. Will Smith slapped Chris Rock after making a joke at the Oscars at the expense of his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Actress Pinkett-Smith has alopecia, a condition that caused her to lose her hair.

It’s a condition that affects men and women, some studies say more Black and Hispanic women than others, which can be stressful and depressing for most.

Over the years, Houston hairstylist Keshia Webb has had a variety of wigs to “hide” alopecia.

“What I was hiding from, I created a career, I became an extension specialist. I helped women hide like me,” Webb admits that’s the basis for which she created her successful hairstyling career.

After times in her life facing embarrassment and depression from losing her hair, she’s now in a place of feeling free.

“You have to allow people to be who they are. Whether they’re ignorant, don’t want to know or understand,” Webb said.

Dr. Jennifer Ukwu from Memorial Hermann Medical Group in Pearland said many people struggle emotionally with this identity change.

“Seventy million people have it, it pops up in the 20s to 30s. What’s most commonly discussed is tension or traction alopecia, which occurs with tight hairstyles over time, and that one’s a little more treatable. Alopecia areata is actually an autoimmune form, there’s no cure,” Dr. Ukwu said.

Ukwu said diet, topical creams or steroids can help slow the progression for some people. However, Webb said embracing it has been the best medicine yet.

“It’s not my flaw, it’s my enhancement. It makes me - me. It has made me so fabulous that people look at me and say, ‘Oh my god, I wouldn’t come to you because you’re baldheaded.’ I really hate that for you!” Webb said.

What did the hairstylist think of the slap?

“I don’t think it did him any good. I really don’t think that was the time to stand up for Jada. There were so many other times he could’ve stood up for her, and that one was really weak. Over a joke, from a comedian? How many times do we say, ‘Don’t take it personal, it’s just a joke?’” Webb asked. “Why would you be so offended by that? I believe whatever they’re going through is a little deeper than what we see. Smoke and screens. So, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but what they put out there, he was supporting her for the hair loss thing, I just think there’s a time and place for everything and I don’t think that was it, but that’s my opinion.”

What she did appreciate about that famous moment is the possibility that people will have “softer hearts,” meaning, be more aware and accepting of others.