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Faces of Naked Confidence - Linda Akkermans (35, Rotterdam, The Netherlands)

Life is such a journey. Really and truly, I never thought that I would have to search for myself again like I did last year. I was incredibly lost.

Slowly, I found myself again. Feelings of confusion still remain, but I don't want to hide ME anymore.

This is my journey. This is me, this is it… I’m 35, I’m a mother, a wife, a friend, a nurse, a scientist but above all-- I’m bald. Being bald should never define me, which I know now how to embody. While I'm bald, I'm also a considerate, caring human being, and most importantly-- I’m Linda.

Since the age of 8 I had Alopecia Areata. The patches didn’t initially bother me. I could hide them perfectly and my hair always grew back.

My hair remained fine until my son was born in February 2019, and by May my hair was falling out again, but BIG TIME… In nearly 3 weeks my all of my hair was gone. In love with my baby, but crying for my hair opened up a very new world: buying my first wig, and seeing my new, surreal reflection.

"Is THAT me?" I would think. "Where did I go?"

In July I also lost my lashes and my eyebrows. My face was gone. With all of my hair lost, I wanted to accept the new me. There was no turning back. I needed to accept my Alopecia Universalis.

But, then, that was a lie to myself. Everything in this journey comes with baby steps. I wasn’t used to doing baby steps in my life, it was normally all so sudden.

My children and my husband are the best. While taking my baby steps, they always had accepted me for who I am. Even my four-year-old daughter loves to wear my old wig and she'll go dancing and singing with it, chanting, “I’m mommy! I’m Linda!"

Nowadays I still struggling with myself. My self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence have diminished, but ’m taking steps to do what I feel like I ought to do for myself: being bald at home, photoshoots, going without a wig to a store but with a cap on, bald swimming.

I refuse to let my baldness dictate me what I can and can not have the confidence to do. I want to be the one to make the decisions, and I'm taking every stride I can to get there.

It is important to know that you are not alone in this process! And it isn’t a goal to go outside bald immediately. The goal is that YOU should feel comfortable with yourself, with or without wig. Be BeYOUtiful.

It takes time, but the growth to my “new” me will last a lifetime.

Writing has helped me tremendously in this process. I would like to share one of my works with you.

Dear stupid, sometimes sweet wig.

I hate you, but I can't live without you.

I want to throw you away, but I want to keep you beautiful.

I want to rip you off, but I want to cover myself.

I never want to see you again, but I don't want to see myself.

I want others to like you, but I want others to see ME.

I want to feel strong, but I feel vulnerable.

I want to recognize myself, but you feel fake.

I want to be able to look at myself, but I don't see myself.

I want to know who I am, but I don't recognize my shadow.

I want to be powerful, but I feel weak.

I want you to show me off, but I feel like a fraud.

I want to embrace you, but I curse you.

I want my own hair back, but I have to do it with you.

I want to forget you sometimes, but you are in all the fibers of my consciousness.

I want to accept compliments on you, but I can't stand you.

I want to dare to be without you, but I feel bald.

I will have to stand for who I am and what I can do.

I will have to accept that I am the same, but bald.

I will have to accept that others see a secret.

A secret I want to hide and shout out at the same time.

Will my vulnerability eventually become my strength?

I'm going to see what the future holds, with or without you,

But in the end, I can say to myself “I Love You”.

Make sure to follow Linda on Instagram!

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