Lansing consultant helps women find beauty in being bald
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Nekeyta Brunson was “the girl with the wig.”
The Flint native was diagnosed with alopecia, an autoimmune disease that manifests in hair loss, when she was in the first grade. There weren’t special children’s wigs she could wear, so she wore ill-fitting adult wigs to school, making her an easy target for bullies.
Brunson covered her head for most of her life, but said she started rethinking her approach three years ago when one of her daughters excitedly pointed out another bald woman at a track meet. At that time, she almost always had her head covered, even at home. She decided she wanted to start embracing her baldness.
“Here I am raising two girls . and I’m telling them they’re beautiful just the way they are,” she said. “And I am not showing them how that looks.”
Three years later, Brunson is working to help women with their hair loss through her consulting business UnCovered, the Lansing State Journal reported.
For many women, losing hair can be an emotional and lonely experience, she said, adding that her goal is to make women feel more confident no matter how they chose to address their hair loss.
“It’s a loss of identity,” Brunson said. “Even if you have hair and you get a bad haircut — you feel like you don’t look like yourself.”
Brunson works with women who’ve lost their hair for a variety of reasons — whether it’s cancer or alopecia. During consultations, Brunson shares her story with clients and gives them advice on wigs and scarves. A big part of the process is just being an ear to listen.
“I don’t want to sell wigs,” she said. “I want to help women be OK with themselves.”
Annie Hicks, 62, was praised for her thick, black hair when she was young. She relished days at the salon and expressing herself by trying different hairstyles.
But Hicks started losing her hair in her early 20s due to alopecia. She spent decades visiting salons and doctors to find ways to grow her hair back. She eventually relented and cut her hair off completely and started wearing wigs.
A few years ago, she said she decided she wanted wearing a wig to feel like a choice. She didn’t want to need to wear one in order to feel good.
“You get tired of wearing a wig all the time,” she said. “It’s not natural. You go to scratch your hair, and it moves.”
Brunson and business partner Shelia Burks met with Hicks on a recent Friday afternoon at Hicks’ home. During her consultation, Brunson demonstrated a few ways Hicks could wear a headscarf. Hicks said the best part about her time with Brunson and Burks was that she could be around women who understood her experience.
Burks said she hopes UnCovered can help get rid of some of the shame connected with hair loss.
“We just really want women to recognize that your beauty is not wrapped up in your hair,” Burks said. “It just is not.”
Brunson said her ultimate goal is to make women feel good whether they’re wearing a wig, hat, scarf or nothing at all to cover their head.
While she said she still struggles with self-assurance from time to time, she’s grown more confident showing off her bald head. Earlier this year, she went to a screening of the superhero movie “Black Panther” and painted the top of her head with a glitter, mimicking the female warriors in the film.
“The fact that they had beautiful bald women as warriors — it was a huge thing for me,” she said.
A recently licensed esthetician, Brunson is hoping to open a beauty salon somewhere in Lansing in the coming months. She said she envisions a space that focuses on skin care and making people feel good. She wants it to be a place where women, bald or not, can get facial or a massage or eyelash extensions and talk about their experiences.
“That’s the goal — to just provide the space for healing,” she said.
Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com