Alopecia Areata Influencers: Thea Chassin and the Bald Girls Do Lunch

Thea Chassin, founder and CEO of Bald Girls Do Lunch® based in New York state is a former physical therapist, lighting designer and self-described “Energizer Bunny”. In 2007 she founded the award-winning nonprofit Bald Girls Do Lunch®  – an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for women of all ages who are living with alopecia areata ( AA). Thea was diagnosed with AA in 1997. She’s the public face inspiring women to talk freely about alopecia; come out of hiding and live life fully both wearing wigs and going au naturale. She was the driving force behind the nation’s first Women with Alopecia month in July 2010.

According to Chassin, the public often assumes that all hairless women are in treatment for cancer, an awkward situation bald men don’t face going about their day. Women, not men, who chose bald rather than wear wigs are frequently offered unsolicited referrals for cancer groups.

In a world where hair and appearance are so prized, the Bald Girls network encourages women to use all their options whether it be hats, wigs, scarves or their bald look. “Accept a changed self-image yourself first.  Nonchalantly, educate others. You have nothing to be ashamed of. The result? People will begin to follow your lead. You deserve an easy, normal life and it’s within reach” says Chassin.

Thea has become a national role model inspiring others living with alopecia with special acclaim by alopecians that the Today Show sought her out for their Bald Girls Do Lunch segment on the Today Show. Thea is a passionate and articulate leader for alopecia, a role that came easily and fit her life-long dedication to quality of life issues. The Bald Girls Do Lunch® network connects women locally in their cities with progressive strategies for the everyday challenges – from cosmetic issues to relationship and work issues.

How did it all begin? By listening to women like herself in the US, Canada and from as far away as Spain and Australia, it became clear to Chassin that while millions of women around the world have alopecia areata, too many feel completely alone with it. From her alopecia support group work with men, women, and children in New York State, she could see that many women would shy away from a formal discussion group, but were eager to get together over an informal lunch. From that beginning, the Bald Girls Do Lunch network was created as the first non-profit support organization devoting all its resources to the emotional and practical needs of women with alopecia areata.

Thea feels passionate that no woman should ever struggle alone with this condition. She has heard and experienced first-hand the universal themes of worry and self-consciousness. She understands the inevitable evolution that women of all ages go through to live with the challenges of this condition. She’s a keen listener and caring educator for women challenged to become comfortable discussing their condition with friends and family.

She has creative and individualized advice for how to handle and overcome the emotional and practical issues of alopecia areata whether private or public adjustments. Often, women have more choices than they realize and Thea helps them explore what they are. She has the unique ability to help women face to face as they seek their new normal while also tackling the larger social issues surrounding female baldness.

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