Jada Pinkett Smith says having alopecia forced her to ‘see the beauty of myself beyond my aesthetics’

Jada Pinkett Smith’s baldness — the result of alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that triggers hair loss — may have been the butt of a Chris Rock joke that set off husband Will Smith and derailed last year’s Oscars, but the Red Table Talk host says her diagnosis has been “a great teacher.”

Speaking to the Guardian, the actress, 51, opened up how having alopecia has challenged her expectations about beauty as a Black woman.

“It’s been a hard one, a scary one — because specifically as Black women, we identify so much of ourselves with our hair,” she told the U.K. newspaper. “And it was scary. I had to really dig deep and see the beauty of myself beyond my aesthetics.”

She added, “When you get to my age, you get so settled in your skin, so comfortable in the knowingness of you, that you don’t get concerned about what other people have to say. The elders earn that.”

Rock’s joke — and her husband’s angry reaction to it — did result in a lot of people having a lot to say about the Girls Trip star’s hair loss. While the comedian has claimed to not have known that the actress had alopecia, many criticized him for commenting on her looks — which he likened to G.I. Jane, referencing the 1997 in which Demi Moore shaved her head to play a female Navy SEAL recruit — in the first place.

“I learned a lot about detachment,” Smith, who deals with bald patches by shaving her head, said of having her condition thrust into the spotlight following the Oscars skirmish. “And I learned a deeper beauty within myself, being able to let my hair go.”

Currently promoting the Netflix docuseries African Queens, which she narrates and executive produces, Smith also reflected on aging — “you’ve been through enough trials and challenges” — and looking to daughter Willow, 22, to blaze her own trails.

“I see my younger self in her,” Smith said of her daughter. “She’s so fiery, so ready to go. Ready to take on the world. … Then, as you get older, you don’t hold on to that stage. You pass the torch and settle into your new understanding.”

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