Thick, healthy, bountiful hair is the goal and expectation across many cultures. For generations, women’s beauty was tied to the quality of their tresses, which continues to put an extreme amount of pressure on women to adhere to those standards. But for some, that isn’t possible. According to Medical News Today, alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that can cause unpredictable hair loss, and many women live with the condition. Some choose to hide their hair loss, while others, like 45-year-old Felicia Flores, are embracing it.

According to, Flores was in her early 20s when she discovered her hair loss. Over the years, she underwent different treatments to try to get her hair to grow back and prevent further hair loss, and she made sure to wear her hair in styles that would cover her bald spots.

It was difficult for Flores, who said that she felt a lot of “shame” surrounding her hair.

“I was definitely embarrassed by it and ashamed, per se, of it at the time, so I just hid it,” she said. “Your hair is your crown, that’s what you’ve been told, so with the popularity of hair extensions and weaves and all this stuff, where was that place for the ‘baldie?’ It wasn’t really out there.”

As Flores’ 30th birthday approached, she decided she had finally had enough. She decided to get ahead of her hair loss and shave her head.

“I was kind of tired of that false hope and just said, ‘Forget about it,'” she added, sharing she did know what alopecia was prior to her diagnosis.

Flores said seeing Amber Rose rock a buzzcut made her feel more confident about her new look.

“I’d never seen a woman where she’s feminine and she’s rocking a bald head. I was like, ‘Oh, it can be done,'” Flores said. “That was what gave me that inspiration, like, no, I can still be myself. I can still be feminine. I can still show up as my authentic me and embrace myself, because she’s doing it.”

Flores found a community of people who experience hair loss too, and it inspired her to pursue her “passion project,” Baldie Con, an annual conference for women who choose to be bald. This year’s conference was held in Atlanta in September. The two-day event gathers women who have hair-loss issues due to alopecia or any other condition.

“That’s what makes Baldie Con so special, is that we’re inclusive,” Flores said. “I just want them to be recognized for being special and beautiful and to know that they’re loved and know that there’s a community out there for them to embrace and to have any kind of information that’s out there, whether it’s about hair loss, different remedies, treatments.”

38-year-old mom of three Shadina Blunt spoke at this year’s Baldie Con event. She lost her hair while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for invasive carcinoma breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in January.

“I couldn’t accept what I was looking at in the mirror,” Blunt said. “I finally said, ‘I’m going to have to dig deep and find a new self-love.'”

Of being bald, Blunt said it’s pushed her to fully accept herself.

“It is very liberating,” she said, and recommended that others “know that hair is just hair. It does not define you. If you lose your hair, try to embrace it. Try to love it, and ultimately love yourself, and give yourself grace on the days that you don’t.”