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Will Smith ignited the Internet, on the impact of the medical condition of Jada Pinkett Smith at the 2022 Academy Awards, before winning the Best Actor award for his role in the movie King Richard.
Pinkett Smith, 50, suffers from an autoimmune disorder known as alopecia areata, and debuted her shaved hairstyle in July 2021 after her falling hair left her “trembling with fear”.
Ahead of presenting the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, comedian Chris Rock apparently mocked Pinkett Smith’s clean-shaven hair, saying, “I can’t wait for GI Jane 2,” referring to the movie “GI Jane” in which Demi Moore played a woman who joined to the US military and had to cut her entire hair.
In a moment of unprecedented anger, Will Smith went up to the stage and slapped the comedian in the face, before screaming at him from his seat. In the past, Pinkett Smith has been open about how the condition might affect her, including discussing the condition’s symptoms.
In an interview in 2018 as part of the actress series Red Table Talk, Pinkett Smith spoke about her appearance, saying, “A lot of people ask why I wear turbans. Well, I haven’t talked about it. It’s not easy to talk about, but I will.”
The star then went on to explain her “terrifying” ordeal, as the alopecia caused large clumps of her hair to fall out in one go.
She added, “I was in the bathroom one day and I had a bunch of hair on my hand and I said, ‘Oh my God, am I going to go bald?’ It was one of those times in my life where I was literally shivering in fear. That’s why I cut my hair.”
Alopecia UK explains that the condition occurs when the body attacks its own hair follicles, which can cause hair loss anywhere on the body.
The most common type, known as alopecia areata, often begins with isolated patches of hair loss, usually in one or more coin-sized spots (usually round or oval) on the scalp with some individuals also experiencing itching, burning, tingling, and headaches.
In about 50% of cases, the condition first develops in childhood, and although the exact causes of the condition are still unknown in the medical field, Alopecia UK explains that the ‘triggers’ could be a combination of infection inside the body and the external environment of the body.
Speaking more about her personal experience and the sudden development of the condition, Pinkett Smith took to Instagram in a video dating back to December 2021 saying, “You know I’ve been having hair loss and one day all of a sudden, look at that line here. Look at that – Before she ran her finger over a patch of bald lines on her scalp – it came out like this and it would be a lot more difficult for me to hide. So I thought I’d share it just so you don’t ask any questions.”
In an effort to curb her hair loss, Pinkett Smith was given steroids, but revealed she was “open to other ideas” after the condition was incurable.
“Steroid injections seem to help, but they do not cure. But I am open to other ideas,” she added.
Then, in July 2021, Pinkett Smith revealed the style of her shaved head, which she said gave her a sense of “freedom”.