Since I was very young, I have lived with alopecia areata which has stripped me of all my hair. Because of my autoimmune condition, I endure the stigma surrounding baldness daily. This condition has deeply informed my perspective regarding empowering hair loss legislation. Specifically, I advocate for H.R. 5430, which will mandate insurance coverage for cranial prosthetics (wigs) under Medicare. High-quality wigs, which are imperative to the mental health of many with hair loss, cost thousands of dollars and require upfront out-of-pocket payments. I firmly believe that our society must uplift and empower people with hair loss to choose what to wear on their heads without bearing any financial burdens.
In advocating for empowering hair loss legislation, I have engaged in discussions with people with different perspectives. For example, I have spoken to economists who have dismissed H.R. 5430, stating why taxpayer money should go towards cosmetic enhancement. This line of questioning is insensitive to the hair loss community, who disproportionately face anxiety, depression, and suicide. While hearing people dismiss alopecia as a solely cosmetic disease is disheartening, I try to recognize the basis for their perspectives. It is challenging to imagine life with alopecia because we universally recognize hair as an integral part of our identity; thus, I take the opportunity to promote awareness of the condition in moments like this and work from there.
My firsthand experiences with alopecia led me to co-found the Alopecia Justice League (AJL), which strives to raise awareness for alopecia and equip constituents with the tools necessary to advocate for empowering hair loss legislation with their representatives. More than 7 million people in the U.S. are affected by alopecia, and a majority would benefit incredibly from this legislation. Nevertheless, many are unaware of the U.S. healthcare infrastructure or process regarding legislation. These information gaps lead many to adopt the mindset that advocacy is ineffective and strenuous. My work seeks to dismantle this line of thinking, which is especially prominent among young adults and teens. The AJL provides prep packets, email scripts, and meeting guidelines to educate constituents and empower them to voice their opinions. We want everyone to recognize the power they hold as a constituent. Visit our website https://www.alopeciajusticeleague.com/.
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