Last night (Mar. 27), Will Smith walked onstage during this year’s Oscars and proceeded to slap Chris Rock, who made an unsavory joke about Smith’s wife Jada mere moments prior. Since then, social media has been filled with people’s reactions, including individuals who have alopecia, the autoimmune disorder Pinkett Smith has.
Support from alopecia advocates following the incident instantly started flooding in, with one awareness group, The Bald Girls Do Lunch, tweeting: “Jokes about @jadapsmith or any woman with #alopecia #alopeciaareata is never ok. Period.”
“Ex on the Beach” contestant ZaraLena Jackson, who also suffers from alopecia and is an advocate on social media, is standing by Smith and his actions. “I think it’s inappropriate to make any joke about someone with alopecia as it’s a condition that highly impacts mental health for that individual and isn’t a laughing matter,” she said. “Being a comedian is very tongue in cheek and we all dislike when jokes are targeted as us, regardless of the subject, but he should have anticipated that response naturally and known better.”
Jackson continued, “To be clear, I don’t condone violence, but him defending Jada showed strength in my eyes and was very comforting to see a man stand by his woman when she has alopecia.”
About of a third of women will suffer some form of hair loss in their lives, according to Harvard Medical School. In addition, a peer-reviewed study published in 2018 found that Black and Hispanic women in the US have a “significantly greater” chance of developing alopecia areata — the medical term for the autoimmune disorder — in their lifetime than white women.
Former NBA star and self-described “alopecia ambassador” Charlie Villanueva meanwhile used the controversy to post a message of support for those with the disorder: “Remember, you have alopecia, alopecia doesn’t have you. Don’t give up on yourself.”