TTU Student Reflects on Oscar Slap

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 4:51 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - If you saw the Academy Awards last night, you know actor Will Smith took offense to a joke about his wife’s hair--or lack thereof--and walked onto the stage to slap Chris Rock for making it.        

Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, has Alopecia, a condition we featured 5 years ago at Ropes High School, where Maggie Anderson, a freshman, was bringing attention to the disease.        

Here is part of that story...                

At the end of the day, when the girls at Ropes High School go into the locker room for basketball practice, Maggie Anderson puts on her uniform and takes off her hair.            

Her mom says many people assume she has cancer.            

Instead, she was diagnosed with Alopecia when she was two.           

Dr. Michelle Tarbox, a dermatologist and Texas Tech physician, says Alopecia is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks itself and causes the hair to fall out. Often, it is triggered by stress. But in very young children, she says, “It’s an illness, even a very mild virus that activates the immune system and the immune system forgets to shut back down.” 

The hair loss may happen one time or it may last a lifetime. After 12 years with no hair, Maggie’s case is more unusual. Much like Jada Pinkett Smith who says she has struggled with Alopecia for most of her life.                    

Today, Maggie is a freshman at Texas Tech and involved in a sorority instead of basketball.         

We caught up with her between classes to get her reaction to the Will Smith incident.         

Maggie says she does not condone violence, but she is glad that Will stood up for his wife and brought attention to this condition. She says, “Having Alopecia, having a joke made like that in front of the whole world would be tough. I felt very sorry for her. Everybody’s got something. Unfortunately, Alopecia is a visible aspect and it’s not a choice. it’s my life. it’s her life.”        

Maggie says she hasn’t worn a wig since she graduated from high school.        

She says, “I decided the wig isn’t who I am. It’s not my choice. but it is my life and I love it and I’m living a good life.”        

Maggie wants to get a degree from Texas Tech first.         

After that, she plans to continue her education in cosmetology school.         

Ironically, she wants to learn how to style hair so she can make others feel good about the way they look.        

That’s a winning attitude, even if Maggie isn’t playing basketball anymore.

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