According to Google Trends, searches for alopecia skyrocketed to the most popular they’ve ever been on the 28th of March 2022. Given what happened on this day, it’s no surprise that this term suddenly became so searchable.
Of course, this was the night of The Oscars when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage for a joke about his wife’s hair loss. Since then, the internet has gone absolutely wild talking about this joke and whether or not it was right for Chris Rock to have said it. Some people said he was just doing his job roasting people at the awards, while others claimed he shouldn’t have joked about alopecia.
So, what exactly is alopecia, and should it be joked about?
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. This means that anyone who is losing their hair is technically suffering from alopecia. However, there are different types of alopecia, which is where it gets somewhat confusing.
Alopecia areata is what Jada Pinkett Smith has. This is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair to come out. Often, you can lose a lot of hair in one go – which Jada herself admitted was happening at one point. Sometimes, hair can fall out when you have alopecia areata, then grow back. Other times, it is gone for good.
There are also different types of alopecia areata, with one being where you lose all the hair on your entire body. This is called alopecia areata universalis, and there’s alopecia areata totalis which is when all the hair on just your head falls out.
Because this is an autoimmune disease, there is no cure. Doctors aren’t even sure why your immune system decides to attack your hair follicles when you suffer from this, but it’s a condition that many people have to learn to live with.
This is arguably the most common of all hair loss causes. Effectively, this is what’s commonly known as male or female pattern baldness. It’s caused by genetics, meaning you gradually lose your hair when you reach a certain age.
What tends to happen is the hair at your temples fades away, meaning your hairline recedes into the classic M shape. Then, your crown starts to thin and the rest of your hair gradually falls out.
Should you Joke about Alopecia?
In general, joking about someone’s appearance is never that funny. You wouldn’t joke about someone being overweight, so why joke about a man or woman because they’re going bald. With that being said, if you’re a comedian that’s being paid to literally roast and poke fun at people, perhaps this changes things because of the circumstances. People should expect to have the mickey taken when a comedian is in their place of work.
However, the problem with Chris Rock’s joke is that Jada Pinket Smith suffers from an autoimmune disorder, not regular hair loss. Arguments are being made that he’s poking fun at a medical condition, which some people take offense to.
Generally speaking, you should avoid making fun of someone because of how they look. You wouldn’t like it if they did it to you, so don’t do it to them. No doubt the debate about what happened will continue to rage on, but now you know a bit more about why so many people are outraged.