First-generation Indian-American Mohana Chakrabarti joins Nadia Imafidon for a conversation on being an empath as a social worker, the dangers of beauty clichés including their ableist tendencies, her journey with the autoimmune hair loss condition called alopecia, and how the internet breeds harmful memes and problematic influencers like YouTube star James Charles who make a mockery of the bald/alopecian community.
A daughter of immigrants from West Bengal, India, Mohana is an alternative school social worker from Manhattan, Kansas who is currently residing and working in the Kansas City metro area. At 8 years old, she developed alopecia, which progressed into total body hair loss (known as alopecia universalis) by the time she reached middle school. Throughout her life, Mohana has dealt with issues surrounding traditional standards of body image, and social belonging and understanding due to her hair loss, and is on a continual journey towards what she calls “cerebral peace,” or the ability to sit in contentment with one’s self.
These identities and experiences have carved Mohana’s passion for social work and social justice, especially in the pursuit of societal equity and compassion for marginalized youth and their families. Mohana has a special place in her heart for urban-core alternative public education, an environment teeming with opportunities for trauma-informed care, advocacy and activism for marginalized youth, and building meaningful relationships with students and colleagues. In her free time, you can find Mohana playing or cuddling with her two dogs, watching teen drama TV shows, or spending quality time with loved ones.