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Bald and beautiful

Published : Nov 7, 2016, 10:06 pm IST
Updated : Nov 7, 2016, 10:06 pm IST

Ketaki Jani, who lost her hair to alopecia, has become the first finalist to make it to the Mrs India Internatonal beauty pageant.

Ketaki Jani
 Ketaki Jani

Ketaki Jani, who lost her hair to alopecia, has become the first finalist to make it to the Mrs India Internatonal beauty pageant.

When Ketaki Jani began losing her hair at the age of forty, she thought that her life was over. It took only a month and a half for all of her hair to fall out. It took much longer for Ketaki to make peace with it. After trying out oils, hair treatments and even steroid pills, and having undergone a long battle with depression, Ketaki finally decided to not only accept but also embrace her baldness. Five years down the line from when she lost her hair, she is now the first finalist with alopecia to have made it to the finals of the Mrs India Worldwide finale, which is taking place in Mumbai later this month.

“My daughter and husband encouraged me to stop taking steroid pills because it would have a negative impact on my kidneys in the long run. As soon as I stopped taking the pills, I lost all my hair a second time. It was a dark time for me, because, in our culture, people often equate a woman’s beauty with her hair,” recalls Ketaki, who admits that it was not just her own misgivings but also society at large that added to her struggles. “There is a stigma if you don’t have hair. I’ve actually had people come up to me and ask whether I have cancer, or say things like ‘her life is over now’ or ‘how will she go out in public now’. I felt the stares that people would aim my way wherever I went,” she says.

It was her daughter who finally helped her get through the ordeal. “She sat with me one day and simply told me that I had my whole life ahead of me and that I’m healthy, I’m smart and I’m still beautiful. That really was a turning point for me,” says Ketaki.

Another step towards rediscovery was when she decided to tattoo her head. “I had always wanted to get a tattoo done, and I thought, well if God’s given me a canvas, why not use it ” Though an excruciatingly painful process, the tattoo helped Ketaki gain back her confidence and even changed how people viewed her now. “Now, when people saw me, they thought that my baldness is a fashion statement,” she laughs.

Much more confident in her own skin now, when she saw the Facebook page for the Mrs India pageant, she applied immediately. “It goes to show you how much the fashion world has changed. When I went in for my personal interview, one of the judges immediately commended me on my hairstyle. Apparently being bald is a trend that’s catching on in Paris now,” she laughs.

Ketaki is prepping for the finale, which will take place in Mumbai, with a grooming session taking place in Dubai before the big finish. “I’m really looking forward to seeing Dubai. I’ll be travelling on my own, so that should be quite exciting,” says Ketaki. “I just wish that more women with alopecia would step out of their homes and not feel ashamed of the lack of hair. There are so many people that I know who feel this way and I wish there was a way to change that,” she signs off.