Jada Pinkett Smith's Alopecia Fully Explained

During the 2022 Oscars telecast on Sunday night, comedian Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith's shaved head. While presenting the award for best documentary, Rock said, "Jada, I love you. 'G.I. Jane 2,' can't wait to see it, all right?" This is a reference to the 1997 film "G.I. Jane," in which the main character gives herself a buzz cut. Seconds later, Pinkett Smith's husband, actor Will Smith, walked on stage and slapped Rock, after which he told the comedian to keep his wife's name of his mouth (via New York Times). Pinkett Smith's shaved head isn't just a style choice, however. She has a condition known as alopecia, which causes hair loss.

The actress first opened up about her diagnosis in May 2018 but made headlines just a few months ago when she revealed her shaved head for the first time. In a video posted on Instagram in December 2021, Pinkett Smith announced that her hair loss had progressed, prompting her decision to completely shave her head (via Prevention). "Now, at this point, I can only laugh. Y'all know I've been struggling with alopecia and just all of a sudden one day, look at this line right here," she said in her video, pointing to a bald line patch on her scalp. "So it just showed up like that and this is going to be a little bit more difficult for me to hide."

What is alopecia?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, alopecia is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own hair follicles. There are three different types of this condition: alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, and alopecia univeralis, all of which vary depending on the amount of hair loss. Pinkett Smith has alopecia areata, which is characterized by patchy baldness. People with alopecia areata can experience hair loss on any part of the body, but it is most common to lose hair on the scalp, according to Health. Since alopecia is so unpredictable, not everyone will experience the same degree of hair loss or respond to treatment the same way. For instance, some people's hair might regrow without treatment, while others could completely lose all of the hair on their head.

There are a variety of treatments available that can help stimulate hair growth, including Rogaine, topical immunotherapy, and corticosteroids (per WebMD). Although alopecia areata is not generally considered a serious condition, it can cause anxiety and take a toll on a person's self-esteem. That's why it's not uncommon for people with alopecia to wear hats, wigs, or scarves to cover up their hair loss. However, Pinkett Smith chooses to embrace her baldness, rock a shaved head, and accessorize with a variety of beads and jewels. She said in a December Instagram video, "I'm going to make me a little crown. That's what mama's going to do" (per Health).