What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty to me is confidence. There is something everyone wishes they could change about themselves. But learning to accept those differences and have the confidence to embrace them- that is beauty.
When do you feel most beautiful?
I feel the most beautiful when I am in the car, music blaring with my dog in the backseat and no scarf or wig on my head. My dog Harley is easily my best friend, anything I can do with him (or any other animal) brings me such joy I feel beautiful.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a woman means being a warrior. There are still many situations where being a woman may seem to give you a disadvantage, but I think there is power in that. Power to prove others wrong, maybe sometimes even yourself.
What do you love about yourself?
Tell me your story.
In junior high I was diagnosed with alopecia areata. As a kid I was in beauty pageants so hair was a big part of my identity. Then to loss something so closely tied to my identity slowly but surely killed me emotionally. Every day I would dread leaving the house, the spots became harder and harder to hide. To deal with it I hid-from everyone and everything. I remember hearing whispers in the hall in high school- I couldn’t take it. That was the lowest I have ever felt about myself.
I finally shaved my head at 22. I held on to every last strand of hair as long as possible. It was like watching the slow death of my identity. But once again hid- this time behind wigs. I am not trying to say wigs are bad, please don’t get me wrong. I can honestly say it was not till this past year that I have started to find myself. I gave up wigs for scarves or sometimes just my bald head. It feels like I am starting to fit into my skin finally. I owe this to God, my family, friends who’ve become my second family, and my dog.
What do you think was the biggest turning point in your life?
The biggest turning point in my life was the day I shaved my head. I can remember it like it was yesterday. One of my best friends came over to my small, basement apartment and we cut my hair in the bathroom. Scissors and disposable razors. That was terrifying and liberating all at once.
It was then I had to face the music. It was then when I took control over my life and quit letting it control me. Alopecia areata is an auto-immune disease- I may never have a full head of hair again. Or if I do there is no guarantee the hair will stay. But looking back, this is where the tide started to change.
Please finish the statement- I am a person who…
is in progress to becoming the best version of myself.
Tell me about a goal you are working on.
My goal is to not only learn to accept the skin I am in- but embrace it. To use the skills I have learned in having alopecia to help others.
Toma Houston Photography is a member of Professional Photographers of America (PPA). Specializing in children’s and portrait photography, serving the Greater Chicagoland area. You can view more of Toma Houston Photography’s portfolio here.