“For women, hair is a big part of owning your look and expressing yourself. My whole life, I’d been known for my hair. Big, thick, golden curls – it was the kind of hair strangers complimented and people envied. Then five years ago, it all fell out. Head, brows, lashes – all of it, gone. This is not a sad story though. Believe me, it has a happy ending.
I had been working at a toxic job and was stressed beyond belief when I noticed huge patches of smoothness on my scalp. I felt helpless, ugly, and stuck. My hair was my identity; my lifelong self-image was shaken to the core.
After I received the incurable diagnosis of alopecia universalis, I started to wear a wig to help me feel less self-conscious in public.
The only place I didn’t wear a wig was in my Zumba classes, because it was too hot! Zumba classes were a major stress relief for me. The community of people who moved and smiled with me helped me cope in a way I didn’t even know I needed. Everyone accepted me just as I was.
One day, I went out salsa dancing with a girlfriend and was completely lost in the music. I was following the lead when all of a sudden, my wig flew off and went sliding across the floor. It was a slow-motion, record-scratching moment. My partner (a stranger) looked at me wide-eyed for a split second, I looked back in shock, and then we both shrugged and kept on dancing! It was then that I realized two things: hair had nothing to do with the joy I was feeling, it was the music and dancing; and, I was instantly ten degrees cooler without anything on my head!
My joy formed a bubble of lightness around me and I was grinning with a giddy happiness I’d never felt before. I knew that this level of steel-toed confidence had bee nurtured in my Zumba classes. When I was dancing, I was beautiful. I was fierce. I was bulletproof.
I decided to become a Zumba Instructor to share that feeling of joy with others. It was too much for me to hold in, I had to pass it on. I thanked God that my condition was literally just hair – I have a perfectly healthy and pain-free body that I can use for dancing and teaching.
This past May, I got to participate in a livestream with Zumba creator Beto Perez. During the class, he kissed my sweaty bald head and I thought I would die from happiness! It was a reminder that in confidently showing myself as I am, I might help give others the freedom to do the same.
My hair may or may not grow back, but my joy is unshakable. The answer for me is always gratitude, community, and to never stop dancing.”
– Molly Humphrey, licensed Zumba® Instructor, proud of the confident, beautiful, amazing woman she is
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