Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Womens Studies

Major Professor

Diane Price-Herndl

Keywords

alopecia areata, bald women, disability, femininity, feminism, monilethrix

Abstract

A general goal to my study was to promote an inclusive approach to baldness by sharing and centering women's experiences with baldness from skin and hair conditions, such as autoimmune alopecia areata conditions and monilethrix. Specifically, a main goal of my study was to her-storicize the lived experiences of women who are bald from skin and hair conditions by examining medical and cultural discourses surrounding these conditions, femininity, and female baldness. Additionally, my study considers strategies of accommodation and resistance that bald women perform in a given context, space, or time. For instance, I consider the ways participants manage their conditions and baldness within certain contexts. To achieve these goals, I interviewed four women who are bald from alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, alopecia universalis, and monilethrix by using an interactive approach to the interviews. Once the interviews were completed, I used interpretative phenomenological analysis to extract themes across the four interviews. Based on the analysis, I organized the findings into two overarching themes that include (a) navigating the feminine ideal and (b) negotiating the assumptions of illness and female baldness. In these themes, I discuss how participants' experiences demonstrate the significance of accommodating and/or resisting hegemonic notions of femininity and illness.

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