All Things Being Equal: Diversity in Healthcare

Posted by Pamela Shaddock on

Choosing to wear a wig when experiencing cancer or other medical related hair loss is a personal choice. When Dianne lost her hair due to chemotherapy back in 2015 she was clear that it was the choice for her. One of her goals during her chemotherapy journey was to look as much like herself as possible, as well as to maintain her privacy and dignity as a cancer patient. She knew that finding and wearing a wig that looked like her pre-cancer hair texture would be an important part of that maintenance and keep questions about any change in her appearance to a minimum. Dianne soon learned though that all things were not equal when it came to cancer care. Already working in the diversity and inclusion space she quickly recognized a healthcare disparity. Dianne Austin coils to locs co-founder 

Coily versus Straight

Armed with the wig prescription, (also known as a cranial prosthesis), given to her by her oncologist, the search for the perfect wig that closely mirrored her coily hair type was a challenge. Dianne was first surprised, then frustrated, when she entered cancer boutique after cancer boutique, not finding any wigs that looked like the highly textured, coily curly hair she lost. There were only straight haired wigs. Straight is fine of course, if that’s your preference, but it wasn’t hers. It’s not fine if straight is the only option and a large segment of the population who don’t have it, or want it, can’t be serviced. Looking at all things being equal, (and I am), all segments of the population should have access to the same type of comprehensive care. In this instance, coily,curly, highly textured hair wigs.

A Movement with Momentum

It was 2015 after-all when Dianne lost all her hair due to chemo, and the back to natural movement-moment was in full swing and here to stay by all accounts. I myself had been natural for 16 years at that point and never looked back. Where were all the coily curly wigs for women like my sister and I? Our research proved, non-existent, within the cancer care space, where women could use their wig prescription if given one, get the private one-on-one care with a licensed cosmetologist, and maintain their privacy and dignity. All things Dianne was seeking to do but was being denied.

Black Women Like Me

Unfortunately, statistics show that 1-in-3 black women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Most of those women, like my sister, will experience hair loss. Some of those women, perhaps 1-in-3, will be looking for the pre-cancer coily curly hair they lost. Highly textured hair, that has to be protected with laws like The Crown Act, because it is considered unacceptable the way it grows naturally. A hair type that’s not considered professional or beautiful.  A coily, curly hair type, seemingly not even on the radar of other wholesalers as a necessary revenue stream, in relationship to wig purchases at cancer boutiques. Until now.

The existence of Coils to Locs means black women like my sister, can start to see a more level playing field. It means the search for quality, highly textured, coily, curly wigs in the cancer care space will become less complicated. Its existence will create a more dignified and much more inclusive and accessible environment and experience. All things being equal.

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