“My hair was my calling card”: Model describes her heartbreak at discovering she was going BALD
For a woman who made her living from her looks, it was the cruellest blow.
Former hair model and aspiring actress Georgia Van Cuylenburg has told of her horror as she started losing her long blonde locks.
The 24-year-old, who hails from Melbourne, Australia but now lives in Los Angeles, discovered that, like five million others in the U.S., she was suffering from alopecia areata.
Cruel blow: Model Georgia Van Cuylenburg has described her experiences after losing her hair to alopecia
Causing sudden and often unpredictable hair loss – from the scalp and body – it has no known cause or cure.
Now, for the first time, Miss Van Cuylenburg has described her struggle with the condition on ABC”s 20/20.
She told the show: “My hair defined my beauty in that it was my calling card.”
She reveals how growing up in Melbourne she was an overachiever who strove for perfection, with roles in the school choir, band and swim team.
She had the looks to match, with “this thick, amazing hair… natural blonde highlights”.
Still, she was plagued by insecurities and developed anorexia, with her weight plummeting to just 75lbs.
“I didn”t cry when I lost my hair but I cry now that I got it back”
/12/07/article-2071024-0F17E1C100000578-651_634x494.jpg” width=”634″ height=”494″ alt=”Natural beauty: Miss Van Cuylenburg as a teen in Melbourne, Australia, before she started losing her hair” class=”blkBorder” />
Natural beauty: Miss Van Cuylenburg as a teen in Melbourne, Australia, before she started losing her hair
Aggressive acupuncture – which involved banging a hammer with seven needles on it across the scalp – was followed by a painful chemical treatment that burned her scalp in a bid to stimulate hair growth.
Watching what she was going through, her boyfriend started filming her journey.
The video, entitled Baby Let Your Hair Hang Down, captured her most vulnerable moments – as well as her happiest.
New hope: The model was thrilled when her hair started coming back. But it was short-lived
When the treatments didn”t work, Miss Van Cuylenburg decided to shave her head. The experience, she said, brought a feeling of “total freedom” and she began to accept her condition.
It was at this point, ironically, that her hair began to return.
Standing in front of her mirror, she said: “It”s coming back! Until two weeks ago I didn”t, wasn”t to believe, was I saw the fluff … It”s incredible and it”s going to keep coming back.”
It grew long enough for her to have her first hair-cut in two years – an emotional experience.
“I didn”t cry when I lost my hair but I cry now that I got it back…” she is seen saying.
But the respite was to be short-lived and she began going bald again.
Fed up with her mood being dependent on the cycles of her alopecia, she started to reach out to others with the same condition.
She began working with children and found strength in being honest about her hair loss – often going out without her wig.
“For so many years of my life, I wanted to be known as the actress, or the funny girl, or the pretty girl.
“And when I realized my strength was being honest…This is the thing that gave it to me. So if I”m known as the girl with alopecia, that”s a great thing.”
Georgia”s story appears on ABC”s 20/20 on Friday December 9 at 10pm