A YOUNG Taunton woman is speaking out as she learns to love her appearance once again after losing her confidence as she struggled with hair loss.

22-year-old Megan Waknell is hoping to raise awareness of Alopecia, a condition which causes hair loss in men and women of all ages.

It can be permanent or reoccurring, and for Meg, it is something she has dealt with since she was 17.

At first it knocked her confidence, but she is taking back control and hoping to educate others along the way.

“My Alopecia started when I was 17 and in college,” she said.

“It was incredibly difficult to deal with at first, I had no idea what it was and was very self conscious trying to hide the patches of hair loss.

"As the hair loss progressed, it got bad enough where I decided to shave my head and start wearing wigs.

“This was a real knock to my confidence as I was always worried about someone noticing, or the fact that I couldn’t style my hair was really upsetting at an age where your appearance can be so important.

“I was incredibly lucky to have a support network through my family, friends and boyfriend who I feel really helped me through it and I want to make sure that anyone in this situation has someone they can talk to and not feel judged or singled out.”

Megan is now bald for the third time since her condition started, and she doesn’t know if it will grow back again, and it is also starting to hit her eyebrows.

But that isn’t going to stop her loving her body, and she hopes to inspire others, too.

She added: “I do feel that it has also had a positive effect on my life now that I have come to embrace it. It makes me confident in my own skin and not worry about superficial appearances as much.

“Despite being actually very common, it still feels like a taboo subject.

“For many young women and girls especially, your hair can feel like such an important part of your look. It’s hardly surprising that when we are surrounded by adverts for having great hair, the thought and worry of losing your hair can be detrimental to someone’s mental health and confidence. I want to break the stigma around hair loss and raise awareness of how common this condition is.”

She now hopes to connect with brands to improve the inclusivity of their models and ambassadors in the media.

She’s had the help of local photographer Andy Jones, of Shooting Pixels, who worked with Megan to kickstart her portfolio of images.

“I’m over the moon with how the photos turned out,” she said. “And I feel that it has also helped my confidence seeing how beautiful they are.

“It’s so important for everyone going through hair loss to feel comfortable and know that it’s not something that affects your worth.

“I really believe that confidence is such an important quality in a person.”

Megan has set up an Instagram account to document her journey of loving her image. Follow her on meg_waknell.