While cycling her way to a gold medal, Joanna Rowsell was just a normal girl with Olympic-level athletic skills. Then she took her helmet off. And you know what? She was still just a normal girl with Olympic-level athletic skills, despite the fact that she is diagnosed with alopecia (a disease causing hair loss on the head and various other parts of the body).
Joanna Roswell became an instant superstar for two reasons: her Olympic victory and her relatively unexamined decision not to wear a wig while accepting her medal. And it's her laid-back attitude about this non-event that's most inspiring. While we're all for championing the cause, sometimes the best way to fight prejudice is just to ask: What's all the fuss about? Roswell told The Daily Mail that "on one level it was a case of 'this is just me'. I get off my bike, take my helmet off and that’s who I am. I did know it would be making a statement — I just didn’t anticipate the size of the reaction." While Joanna does own a number of wigs, which she rotates based on her mood, her obvious lack of apprehension when it comes to revealing her condition gave a boost of confidence to people with alopecia around the world. She received hundreds of messages thanking her for her bold statement, but says she doesn't want to be known as "the girl with alopecia."
Alopecia's only symptom is hair loss. That's certainly a difficult obstacle to face, especially as a young girl. But Joanna has amazing perspective on the issue, and though she admits to having struggled with her appearance for years, she now confidently says, "There’s part of me that thinks: 'I’m not ill; there’s nothing wrong with me.' Most of the time I don’t think about it." We couldn't agree more. (The Daily Mail)
Image via The Daily Mail.