LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — After Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair at the Oscars Sunday night, the conversation around alopecia is making its way to the world stage.
Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that causes moderate to total hair loss. Millions of Americans have it, and it can’t be cured.
Betty Drake is a former licensed cosmetologist living in Las Vegas. She’s had alopecia for over 20 years and says it took her years to have the strength and courage to talk about her condition.
Now, Drake is helping others who are just starting their journey living with alopecia.
Drake runs Betty D’s: The Alopecia Company, which sells products personally tailored for alopecia education, awareness, and advocacy.
In the future, Betty wants to sell vitamins, scalp and skin care ointments, children’s books and more.
Drake runs the company with her daughter, Paige Herbert. They both say they’re happy to have a productive conversation about the condition after that viral Oscars moment.
"This is another platform, and it gives awareness for those that have no idea what alopecia-areata is, but I'm also saddened that jokes like that are so common,” Drake said.
"I was excited to see alopecia on the news and social media today because it's not something that is usual. Of course, interesting circumstance, but it gives us an opportunity to say jokes like this are easily made due to lack of knowledge and understanding,” Herbert added.
Drake wants to remind everyone to be kind and remember that it is a sensitive and difficult topic.