LOVE LIKE THE WORLD DEPENDS ON IT
BY Ben Hooke
To run like the world depends on it - our way of life at hylo - is to love like the world depends on it. To us, they are one and the same.At 15, Amber found out she had alopecia - trying out new highlights with a friend, she found a bald patch. Within a year, all of her hair had fallen out. Mounting anxiety developed as a result of the news. Amber tried steroids, acupuncture, oxygen therapy - everything the doctors prescribed to prevent what was already happening. 15 years later, her mindset has shifted.
“It’s so funny how you can just train your mind over 15 years into thinking something like: “maybe they’re looking at me because I’ve done my makeup nice today. It’s about how you perceive those looks.
“For women, our hair is so wrapped up in our identity - the colour of it. Blonde, brunette, red - you can almost build around it. It’s what you’re saying to the world."
“I’ve become so comfortable being hair free. I feel confident and beautiful, hair free. The wigs do give me a sort of boost - the final accessory to my outfit.
“I don’t feel like I need my wigs - they’re a choice. When I put my red wig on, I feel like me. I feel a bit more of a shield - maybe not as vulnerable.
“When I put my blonde wig on, I genuinely don’t feel like me - I feel like I’m playing a character.”
Wigs have been a central theme to Amber’s life since 16. From struggling to find them and hating the process to being the solution to that problem with her brand, Amber Jean.
Amber’s journey was step by step by step
“When I lost my hair at 15, it’s not necessarily a blessing, but sometimes you have to dig deeper into: “who am I if I don’t have my hair then?
You have to look somewhere else to find that sense of self.
“It’s an ever-evolving thing with alopecia - baby steps after baby steps. Going out in a scarf, going out with no eyelashes on. Genuinely the main thing was meeting Benjamin - knowing what it was like to feel loved. I think I grew love for myself in that relationship and that worked out what it felt like to feel acceptance within that relationship and felt safe to be able to explore.”
“I did yoga teacher training and I remember not taking my wig with me was a huge step - because I hadn’t walked down the street bald yet. I did it in India for the first time - because no-one knew me there. I felt raindrops on my head for the first time in years. Little things like that - doing it in a place where I knew the lads would be staring because I was different in a different way.
“I started to take pictures with no wig on. I was liking who I was without my wig on. Then I started my platform, Hair Free Life, with an instagram and a website - creating a space for women to share their stories. Having that element of community where you could also get tips and tricks - meeting other women made me more comfortable knowing that people were going through the same thing.
“It’s funny, when you embrace something, the world circles back.”
We met Amber in her Shoreditch flat. She’s wearing the limited edition, Love like the world depends on it LegacyTech T-Shirt. Available now.