Alopecia, the keyword behind Will Smith’s slap to Chris Rock

It will be remembered as one of the most questionable and commented scenes of the Oscar ceremonies. It is about the cinematographic slap that Will Smith gave to comedian Chris Rock, minutes before receiving the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the film King Richard.

Millions watched the moment live, not really understanding what was going on. However, a medical word is the one behind the slap: the alopecia that Smith’s wife suffers from.

Rock was presenting the Oscar for Best Documentary when he made a joke that few understood at the time. He said: “Jada I love you. GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see you.” The reference was to the movie GI Jane, in which Demi Moore plays a woman who trains to be a member of the elite squads of the Navy Seals, and who shaves her head so as not to look different from the men she is with. she trains.

However, unlike Moore who shaved her head to film the movie, Jada Pinkett Smith doesn’t wear her hair close for professional or fashion reasons. In 2018, she went public with her battle with alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.

In alopeica areata (its scientific name), the immune system attacks the hair follicles, which are the structures in the skin that form hair. In most cases, hair begins to fall out in clumps, leaving small, coin-sized areas of the scalp devoid of hair.

Alopecia, the keyword behind Will Smith's slap to Chris Rock

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The moment the Oscars ceremony fell silent. Will Smith slaps Chris Rock. | Photo: GettyImages.

It can be said that alopecia is a fairly democratic condition, since:

  • Affects both men and women
  • It can occur at any age, although there is a higher rate of cases between adolescence and 40 years.
  • It affects all racial and ethnic groups, although studies reveal a high incidence of cases in African-American women.
  • Although it is not considered a hereditary disease, there are families with a tendency to suffer from it.

Science has not yet elucidated the cause of alopecia, although it is believed that it can be triggered by a combination of genetic and environmental causes.

Nor has a cure been developed. But there are treatments available to make hair grow back faster.

Alopecia areata can be related to mental health conditions, since for some it is difficult to face hair loss, something so related to self-image and social appearance. Studies also investigate the role of stress in the appearance of this condition.

In a video on Instagram, Pinkett Smith showed off his bald spot, saying that at some point he stopped wearing hats and bandanas and started showing off his shaved head because “people thought he had cancer.”

The host of the show “The Red Table Talk” said in 2018 that alopecia appeared suddenly, one day she was in the shower and began to have strands of hair in her hand. “It was one of the few times in my life where I literally trembled in fear,” Pinkett Smith said.

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“My hair has been a huge part of me,” she previously said. “Taking care of my hair has been a beautiful ritual, and having the option to have hair or not. And then one day being like, ‘Oh my gosh, I may not have that option anymore.

But, like her, millions now have the option of treatments to make their hair grow. Although the risk of losing it again is still present.

There are dozens of scientific studies investigating the causes, origin and treatment of alopecia areata. Ideally, talk to your GP or dermatologist if you are interested in participating in one of these clinical trials.

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