Will Smith: Chris Rock Oscars alopecia jibe 'distasteful'

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"You wouldn't joke about any other medical condition that is quite serious"

"Make fun of alopecia all you want but until you've experienced it, it's soul-destroying and life changing."

Amy Chinnick, whose has suffered with hair-loss since she was 21, said Chris Rock's joke at the Oscars was reminiscent of times she has been teased over her appearance.

Oscar winner Will Smith slapped the comedian after making a jibe about his wife's shaved head.

Jada Pinkett Smith has suffered with hair-loss since 2018.

A video of the incident, which has been viewed hundreds of millions of times, has sparked outrage. But some who have alopecia have seen it as a chance to raise awareness of the condition.

Image source, Amy Chinnick
Image caption,
Amy Chinnick, who has alopecia, says it is not acceptable to make fun of somebody's appearance

Amy, 26, from Caerphilly, did not understand Rock's joke at Pinkett Smith's expense when presenting best documentary at first.

She said it was not until her friends messaged her asking if she was OK and after research that she realised "he went a bit too far".

Image source, Amy Chinnick
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Amy says she would not leave the house without her wig at first

"It wasn't even funny. You wouldn't joke about any other medical condition that is quite serious," she said.

"Alopecia isn't life threatening, no, but it does have a big impact on your mental health."

Almost all of Amy's hair fell out just three weeks after "little bits" started to come loose. Like Pinkett Smith, she cut her hair but still doesn't feel comfortable going out nearly six years on.

Amy said she understood Will Smith's anger - "because he's probably had to go through what my partner went through".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Smith says wearing a headscarf makes her feel empowered

"Me waking up every morning, crying before bed, showing him how much hair I've lost, making excuses as to why we can't see friends... he's probably stressed because he's dealing with Jada's trauma as well."

Amy hopes the issue has increased awareness.

"In a way it's good that it did happen because everyone's talking about it now," she said.

What is alopecia?

Alopecia is the loss of your hair.

It can be caused by stress, illness or deficiencies among other things and can develop at any point in someone's life.

It is thought to affect at least 65,000 people in the UK.

There are a number of different types of alopecia, some of them causing less loss than others. Depending on which type you have, your hair could grow back eventually.

'It needs to be spoken about'

Image source, Megan Gough
Image caption,
Megan started losing her hair due to stress during school

For Megan Gough, from Pembrokeshire, Rock's comments were "very distasteful".

"Maybe he didn't know, but as a comedian you would think that you research your jokes before performing them," she said.

The 20 year old was diagnosed with alopecia when she was just 16.

"I was going though my GCSEs at the time and my hair just started falling out, and I had bald patches all over my head," she said.

"I found it very difficult because not only are you losing part of your identity, for me it was part of losing my femininity as well.

"My hair has always been so important to me and losing all of it so quickly was horrible."

Megan told BBC Radio Wales she initially struggled educating her family and friends about the condition, so she's glad people are talking about it "because it needs to be spoken about".

Image source, Megan Gough
Image caption,
Megan says her hair is still coming out but it has grown a lot and is now manageable

In a statement, Alopecia UK said the joke "just adds to the distress and challenges faced by people with alopecia".

It asked people to call out remarks as "unacceptable or inappropriate" and offered support to anyone affected.

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