Liz Shipman has alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. She began an alopecia support group in Chapel Hill, N.C., in September 2013, with the intent of finding others with alopecia who could relate. The support group is a chapter of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. Her goal is to make alopecia “not a thing.”

Shipman, 22, learned she had the disease when she was 16.

Scrutinizing her hairless arms, Shipman discusses her medical history with the doctor. She takes medication and gets eyebrow injections to try to get the hair to grow back.

Shipman works two jobs — as a receptionist at a law firm and as a volunteer EMT. prepares for the night shift at the EMS station. It’s the last day of classes for UNC, so Shipman said the night may prove busier than normal.

At the station, Shipman is responsible for checking through the equipment to get an ambulance on-line. Shipman doesn’t wear a wig while working at the station. She said she has worked really hard to make the other volunteers know that alopecia is not a thing. “It’s really not that this group needs me,” she said. “It’s that I need them.”

Makeup is a lengthy process for Shipman in the mornings because she has to draw in her eyebrows. “It was a lot easier when they were still sort of there,” she said.

Shipman's support group is a chapter of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. Her goal is to make alopecia “not a thing” — she doesn’t want people to be repelled by baldness or automatically think she’s a cancer patient.

Shipman wears a wig every day that she works as a receptionist at a law firm. As the face of the firm, Shipman says she thinks it best that she is not bald while there, though her employer has made it clear that would be acceptable. Shipman says that wearing a wig prevents awkward stares or questioning, though it can be extremely uncomfortable and itchy.