Alessia Cara on accepting her early hair loss

The singer opens up about her bald spots, and why she wants to tell women everywhere that there are many ways to be beautiful.

Alessia Cara during 93.3 FLZ's Jingle Ball 2015 on December 2015 in Tampa Bay. Tim Boyles | Getty Images

While there are many blessings that come with being a woman, there are burdens, too. One such burden is the pressure to meet societal beauty standards. But some women find it in themselves to reject those standards and celebrate their so-called imperfect beauty. Take singer/songwriter Alessia Cara. In Hollywood it’s easy to get wrapped up in the art of physical perfection, but the young performer embraces not only her scars, as evidenced by her new song Scars to Your Beautiful, and now she recently spoke out about her hair loss, too.

Wait … hair loss? When you look at the artist, and her seeming piles of curls, bald spots are probably the last thing that comes to your mind. But Alessia has struggled with large sections of her hair falling out since she was a young teen.

I was constantly looking for hairstyles to hide the bald spots. I didn’t want people to look at me.”

In an essay for Glamour/, Cara, 20, writes that her struggle with hair loss has imparted a crucial lesson: there are many ways to be beautiful. The performer began experiencing hair loss as a child, but noticed an increase when she started high school. She thinks it may have been related to her diligent straightening of her curly hair, which was a habit she took up because she “wanted to look like everyone else.”

At first, Cara’s hair loss terrified her.

I was constantly looking for hairstyles to hide the bald spots,” she says. “And I didn’t know why it was happening. I just kept thinking, ‘Why am I so young and having to deal with this?’ I didn’t want people to look at me, I didn’t want people to get too close.”

I want to talk about all the different extremes that girls go through to feel beautiful.”

Over time, Cara’s obsession with fitting in faded, but she admits that her hair loss still bothers her from time to time. The struggle to look and feel beautiful is one she believes every woman experiences. That challenge is what inspired Scars to Your Beautiful.

“I want Scars to Your Beautiful to reach different types of women,” she says. “The girl I am talking about, it’s me, it’s you—it’s every girl who has struggled with feeling not good enough. I want to talk about all the different extremes that girls go through to feel beautiful.”

As the song goes, “But there’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark/You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are/And you don’t have to change a thing/The world could change its heart/No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful.”

Alessia Cara with pink cap

Alessia Cara on August 5, 2016 in Philadelphia. Gilbert Carrasquillo | Getty Images

First and foremost, Cara’s public image is that of an artist, not a woman enslaved to society’s idea of beauty. She hopes that other women can find their identity as someone other than a woman society considers “beautiful” or “not beautiful.” She’s broadening the conversation, and we at For Her are grateful for that.

“I just want to tell people there isn’t only one way to look,” says Cara. “You can be natural. You can have a full face of makeup. You can be skinny or fat or short or tall. There is no definition for beautiful. There is no right or wrong way. Just be yourself.”

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