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Hampton woman who co-authored book about living with alopecia hopes Oscars joke leads to teachable moment

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Posted at 5:56 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 18:40:14-04

HAMPTON, Va. - Chris Rock's joke at the Oscars Sunday night hit a sour note among people who suffer from alopecia.

TV audiences and those in attendance at the Oscars were left in shock after actor Will Smith approached Chris Rock on stage and slapped him after the comedian made a joke about Will Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

The comedian presented the award for the best documentary when Rock made a joke about Pinkett Smith, saying he was looking forward to a sequel to "G.I. Jane" because of her shaved head, the Associated Press reported. After the joke, Will Smith got up out of his seat, walked up to Rock, and slapped him.

Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggle with the disease, a long-term, chronic inflammatory condition that leads to hair loss.

A Hampton woman is one of the co-authors of the soon-to-be-released book, "My Bald is Beautiful."

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Cassandra Townsley initially struggled with how to deal with her alopecia before embracing her bald look. She says gaining acceptance was a hurtful and difficult journey, due, in part, to the insensitive remarks from strangers and family.

"Everything is not funny. We need more education out here on alopecia," Townsley said. "Alopecia is a rapidly chronic condition that’s affecting more than just women - it’s really affecting men as well as... especially children.”

Townsley tells News 3 perhaps we can transform what she calls this hurtful joke heard around the world into a teachable moment. She believes if more people understood the pain of chronic hair loss, more people would be more sensitive with their questions and comments.

Related: Pinkett Smith's hair loss from alopecia at center of spat