Actress Gail Mabalane mourns
Gail Mabalane mourns the passing of a father figure whom she calls Papa Dean. The actress said the man and his wife parented her after the passing of her biological parents and it hurts knowing that the man has kicked the bucket. Taking to Instagram, Gail shared lovely memories made with Papa Dean.
“God is so faithful! With both my parents gone…He made sure that I never felt like an orphan. He blessed me with motherly and fatherly figures … all whom I am so grateful for,” she wrote.
“Papa Dean & Mama T … Oupa Dean & Gogo T to my kids! Papa Dean…it’s so hard to say goodbye. Thank you for all the incredible memories. For receiving us and loving us as your own. I have learned so much from our time spent with you…you were a QUALITY, QUALITY human being…an incredible man of faith, honor, and integrity. We’re going to miss you…all of us. Thank you…for everything,” Gail added.
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When Gail Mabalane first started losing her hair three years ago, she had to face this challenge.
“I remember coming into the industry and having this pixie cut, which became almost like my signature look,” she tells W24 during an interview.
“People wanted to know where I do it, and that was Gail’s look. And what I had to go through within myself to suddenly shed [this] – because I had to relax my hair for that look and now I can’t use chemicals anymore – and suddenly having now to readjust and go, ‘Okay, I can’t do that hairstyle anymore’, and feeling like I’m losing my identity in changing my hairstyle.”
Gail made the decision to be open about her struggles with alopecia, starting a YouTube channel where she unpacked her journey and becoming a safe space for other women who were going through similar experiences.
“I think there’s definitely an emotional journey that we go through that we have to work through. And I think that’s part of the reason why I shared because, personally, I know so many women who suffer with hair loss. They don’t say it. I see it because I can see the hairlines, and I can see them covering it up. But we don’t speak about it.”
This fear of addressing hair loss has a lot to do with not only how society views the issue, but also “how we view ourselves when it comes to the loss of hair”, Gail says.
Sharing her journey meant that she no longer had to hide. “I feel it’s better for people to know, so that when they see it, they mustn’t go ‘Have you seen?’
“And not even for them, for myself, I mustn’t feel like, ‘Oh, they looking and what are they seeing?’ For me, it was really about opening up this conversation.”
Gail’s inbox is constantly flooded with women who are losing their hair and looking for a shoulder to lean on. She tells of one interaction she had.
“I had a woman who inboxed me when I first came out [about my hair loss] about three years ago and said she’s getting married in a month’s time and her husband-to-be doesn’t know that she doesn’t have hair because she wakes up first thing in the morning and she goes to bed after he’s gone to sleep. And that was heartbreaking for me because it means that we cannot be ourselves fully because of the value that we put on our hair.
“And, of course, we’re told things like, ‘Your hair is your crown’. So what happens if you don’t have hair? Do you then lose your crown?”
Gail says she had to learn to get past those doubts and “become very secure in who I am as an individual irrespective of the hairstyles that I have”.
“I’ve got spots on my hair where the alopecia has formed scars where my hair will never grow back, and I’m going through the process of really just working very hard on trying to protect what’s left and to slow down the effects going forward by not doing stuff that aggravates my scalp.
“But it’s also about me finding peace and comfort in knowing that losing my hair does not change who I am as a woman, and I think that’s an important conversation to have because if somebody walks up to me tomorrow and says, ‘Oh, your hairline is receding’, instead of getting my back up, it’s an opportunity to educate.”