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Here's What It's Like To Lose Your Hair, From Six Women Who've Been There

A stunning portfolio from Vogue highlights the mind-body connection.

Today Vogue unveiled a beautiful portfolio capturing the real-life stories of nine women who've experienced radical hair loss as a part of ongoing health struggles.

This is Rachel Fleit, the co-owner of designer label Honor NYC. Fleit was born with alopecia and hid her condition for much of her life. “The irony is, no one told me I was beautiful when I wore a wig,” she says. ”Now, someone tells me I’m beautiful every day.”
Cass Bird / Vogue

This is Rachel Fleit, the co-owner of designer label Honor NYC. Fleit was born with alopecia and hid her condition for much of her life.

“The irony is, no one told me I was beautiful when I wore a wig,” she says. ”Now, someone tells me I’m beautiful every day.”

For each woman, negotiating her hair was a part of negotiating her illness. Broadway actress and singer Valisia Lekae, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013, felt that it was important that people see her bare, wigless head.

“After my diagnosis, I wanted people to see me raw, without hair, going through this process," she said. "It wasn’t until last year that I could finally put on a wig and embrace the chameleon in me again.”Lekae, who comes from three generations of hairdressers, even chose to attend the 2013 Grammys with a bald head. “I wanted that girl who was afraid to be her authentic self to say, ‘If she can walk the red carpet with her bald head, then I can try to embrace who I am right now.’
Cass Bird / Vogue

“After my diagnosis, I wanted people to see me raw, without hair, going through this process," she said. "It wasn’t until last year that I could finally put on a wig and embrace the chameleon in me again.”

Lekae, who comes from three generations of hairdressers, even chose to attend the 2013 Grammys with a bald head.

“I wanted that girl who was afraid to be her authentic self to say, ‘If she can walk the red carpet with her bald head, then I can try to embrace who I am right now.’

Suleika Jaouad was just 22 when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia and lost her hair during chemotherapy.

The Emmy Award-winning writer was lucky to receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant, and she's in remission. Since losing her waist-length hair to chemotherapy treatments, she's been experimenting with her style. “Short hair is growing on me. I think I’ll keep it," she says.
Cass Bird / Vogue

The Emmy Award-winning writer was lucky to receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant, and she's in remission. Since losing her waist-length hair to chemotherapy treatments, she's been experimenting with her style.

“Short hair is growing on me. I think I’ll keep it," she says.

Elly Mayday, 25, said that surviving ovarian cancer has helped to her to redefine beauty.

Mayday lost her hair following chemotherapy, and that changed the plus-size model's entire style. “I started wearing combat boots, tight pants and jackets. This is coming from a girl that used to do pinup and wore polka dots and pink.” Ultimately, she says, “What makes you feel beautiful isn’t something that other people define for you.”
Cass Bird / Vogue

Mayday lost her hair following chemotherapy, and that changed the plus-size model's entire style.

“I started wearing combat boots, tight pants and jackets. This is coming from a girl that used to do pinup and wore polka dots and pink.” Ultimately, she says, “What makes you feel beautiful isn’t something that other people define for you.”

Maggie, a ballerina with the Joffrey Ballet Concert Group, was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer at 23.

“Cancer has made me a better dancer,” she said, “I never know if it’s my last time in the studio so I’m living each rehearsal to the fullest.”
Cass Bird / Vogue

“Cancer has made me a better dancer,” she said, “I never know if it’s my last time in the studio so I’m living each rehearsal to the fullest.”

Vogue staffer Phoebe de Croisset has beat leukemia — and gone through losing her hair — twice.

For de Croisset, surviving cancer has changed her relationship with her hair. “Hair was one of the things that made me feel feminine,” she says of life before cancer. “Femininity means something different to me now. It’s about being comfortable in your skin.”​
Cass Bird / Vogue

For de Croisset, surviving cancer has changed her relationship with her hair. “Hair was one of the things that made me feel feminine,” she says of life before cancer. “Femininity means something different to me now. It’s about being comfortable in your skin.”​

Watch each woman talk about her relationship to her hair and her journey to self-acceptance.

For more of these stunning portraits and stories, head to Vogue.com.

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