The Model Breaking Boundaries In The Fashion Industry

Natasha Heal developed alopecia four years ago

What you need to know
  • Natasha Heal has been modelling since the age of 13
  • Four years ago she developed alopecia
  • The condition affects approximately 2% of the Australian population

Natasha Heal has been modelling since she was 13. “It’s not the fame or the money I do it for, I just love doing it.”

But four years ago, an unnerving discovery had her questioning whether she might lose her career over something she could not control. During a photo shoot, a hair stylist noticed that she had started to go bald.

“[There] was a huge patch in the back of my head,” Heal told The Project. “When it got really bad, I had huge patches all along the side of my head.”

The model had never heard of alopecia before, a condition that is estimated to affect approximately two percent of the Australian population at some point in their lifetime. It can present at any age and in either gender, usually first appearing as a small circular patch that can lead to the complete loss of hair within six weeks. Predominantly, it presents in children, especially the rarest form of the condition, which results in the complete loss of all hair, including brows, lashes and body hair.

Initially, Heal battled with the dramatic change to her appearance. “I had days when I was really struggling with it, I didn’t want to get out of bed.”

She was particularly concerned that the condition was going to damage her career. “One of the huge things was it really going to affect my modelling work? What is my agency going to think about it? Are they going to drop me?”

But she soon discovered that the opposite was true – her new look might actually help her get more work. “When I started messaging photographer that I know, stylists that I know, make up artists, they were like: ‘No, we want to use you, we love this.’”

Since shaving her head, the 37-year-old has worked on several high-profile campaigns, including for Target.

She’s now determined to help other people with alopecia. “You can get past it. Your hair can grow back. But, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it does or it doesn’t, you’ve just got to be you.”

For more information on alopecia and how you can help those experiencing it, visit the Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation website.