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Teenager Shaves Her Head In Solidarity With Her Sister's Alopecia

This article is brought to you by Dignity Health

Eighteen-year-old Ocean Anderson went bald last November. She wasn't making a fashion statement, she wasn't undergoing chemotherapy, her long strawberry blond hair was healthy, but she decided to shave her head. Ocean's objective was to support her 13-year-old sister, Azura, and others with alopecia.

Alopecia areata is highly unpredictable, affecting mainly children and young people. Its effect is hair loss. While there are no answers to cure this condition, awareness can go a long way in producing kindness as a response by those encountering someone with alopecia.

At home in Witham, an Essex town of 25,000 residents about 40 miles northeast of London, Ocean says she decided to shave her own head and to create a film demonstrating her action to underscore awareness as well as her personal point of view regarding her sister's alopecia. "The effects aren't just physical. It has mental and social effects as well. I shaved my head because I wanted to show people that appearance doesn't matter. It's their personalities that count."

A message of the importance of humankindness, the focus of a campaign being sponsored by Dignity Health, comes through loud and clear. In an interview with her local newspaper, Essex County Standard, Ocean added, "People judge on what they see before they get to know [about] something, and this shouldn't be the case."

The San Rafael, Calif.-based National Alopecia Areata Foundation explains in further detail about the condition that affects more than 6.6 million people in the United States and perhaps 147 million worldwide. "Hair can grow back in or fall out again at any time, and the disease course is different for each person. No matter how widespread the hair loss, most hair follicles remain alive and are ready to resume normal hair production whenever they receive the appropriate signal. In all cases, hair regrowth may occur even without treatment and even after many years."

As Azura says during her appearance at the conclusion of the film, "We're like any other person, so stop. We don't deserve to be bullied." Her big sister agrees, "No child should suffer bullying because of the way they look. I want to change the way young people perceive appearance."

Ocean's short and powerful film, currently with nearly 50,000 views, was posted to Fixers, a UK-based project of the Public Service Broadcasting Trust, where young adults can gain a voice to bring awareness to social and health issues facing society today.

This article was written by Laurie Jo Miller Farr via for CBS Local Media

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