Featured Story By : Shannon Sparks

When Amanda Hoblak was a little girl, she had beautiful thick, chocolate-brown hair that she loved. She would always add accessories to it to complement her outfits, which was one of the best parts of being a little girl. When she got older, Amanda started dancing and figure skating, where hair was always a huge part of “the look.”

After Amanda graduated from high school, she became a professional cheerleader for a football team in the CFL. As a member of this team, you were expected to look a certain way, which included hair. Hairstylists were always on hand before games, photo shoots and important appearances to make sure everyone was looking their best—because you can’t look your best unless you have the most perfect hair to complement your look…right? Well, at least that is what Amanda used to believe—until something happened to her that shook her up, knocked her down, built her up and completely changed the way she looked at herself and beauty.

In January 2011, at the age of 23, Amanda began to notice large clumps of hair on her pillow when she woke up every morning. She also noticed that she had to empty her hairbrush every morning and unclog the shower every time she used it. When she vacuumed her floors, the vacuum cleaner would jam because so much hair was wound up inside it. Amanda’s ponytail was getting thinner and thinner by the day, but for some reason, despite seeing the clear evidence that something was wrong, she was in denial. She just assumed she was going through a bad month of shedding and led herself to believe that this was something that happened to all women.

After a couple of months, Amanda noticed very visible bald spots all over her head—to the point that she had to actively cover them up. She got creative by parting her hair differently and wearing scarves in unique ways and ultimately ended up cutting her own hair to make it appear thicker. There was absolutely no way she was going to show up at a hair salon looking the way she did. No one could know what was happening to her, not even the people closest to her.

The cycle of denial and covering up her ever-growing bald spots finally reached a peak one day when Amanda realized she was missing about 50 percent of her hair. Something snapped inside her that made her acknowledge that this was not normal—that not all women experienced shedding like she was having. Something was definitely wrong with her, so she consulted a doctor.

Amanda was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called alopecia. After doing some research, she learned that this unpredictable condition meant her white blood cells were attacking her hair follicles, causing them to fall out, and that this was an incurable disorder. She wasn’t gravely ill, for which she was greatly relieved, but her confidence and self-esteem were dwindling by the day, which took a toll on her mental health. With each strand of hair that Amanda lost, a part of her identity left her too. Hair was so important to who she was, and she vowed to do anything to get it back and feel like herself again. She researched treatments and lifestyle changes that could potentially help her. She saw dermatologists and got steroid injections in her scalp, changed her diet, tried topical ointments, took vitamins, used essential oils and practically did everything short of practising voodoo magic to grow her hair back. Nothing worked.

Then came the next step—wigs. If you would have told Amanda years ago that she would be nearly bald at the age of 23 and wearing wigs, she would never have believed you—because that was not part of her future plans. It was not on her vision board of things that should happen in her lifetime. But here she was, at 23, almost bald and picking out her first wig.

Amanda used that wig to hide. No one knew she had alopecia except her close family and friends, and she was determined that no one else would ever know. Due to the mounting anxiety she felt about someone finding out that she was wearing a wig, Amanda went through years of hiding, years of feeling ashamed of who she was and years of saying no to swimming, amusement parks, dancing and playing soccer—essentially years of saying no to everything that made her happy. Then, one day she said “Enough is enough” and chose to share her secret with everyone in her life. Amanda couldn’t believe how well received her news was. Everyone was so supportive; they made her feel like she was worthy of love despite having no hair, which helped her understand that her hair actually had nothing to do with who she was.

What followed for Amanda was a surge of self-confidence and the ability to see wigs as more than just a way to cover up what she had lost as a woman. They suddenly became an accessory, not a security blanket. She enjoyed her bald head but also enjoyed playing with different colours and styles of wigs, educating herself along the way. Wigs allowed her the time and space to mentally heal from her hair loss and accept her new normal.

Amanda’s new-found love of wigs led her to become involved in a wig company called Chiquel, which she now runs and operates to not only sell and promote wigs and alternative hair but, most importantly, also help women regain their confidence. She especially enjoys using her Chiquel platform on social media to show women who are experiencing hair loss and wearing wigs that they are not alone. By sharing beautiful wigs with them and letting them know that their hair does not define them, she hopes to help them navigate the devastating, lonely and mentally exhausting journey of hair loss and heal, like she did. Her positive, real and energetic online presence has helped many women accept their hair loss and embrace the resulting changes in their life.

Amanda tells us that she hopes Chiquel can be an outlet for her to help women see their beauty again, in a new light, and regain their confidence through wigs and alternative hair.


KO Media newsroom and editorial staff were not involved in the creation of this content.