Courtesy Daniella WrideDaniella Wride was brushing her daughter’s long brown hair when she noticed that with each stroke, clumps of it were coming out. That was January 1, 2017. Within 20 days, seven-year-old Gianessa Wride’s hair and eyebrows were completely gone, and her dermatologist said they would never grow back. Gianessa had become one of the 6.8 million Americans with alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. (There’s actually a huge scientific benefit to being bald.)
Courtesy Daniella WrideAlopecia isn’t painful, but for kids who suffer from it, the agony comes from standing out from the crowd. For the most part, the students in Gianessa’s first-grade class in Salem, Utah, were understanding. But the occasional taunt of “Baldy” made her feel like an outcast. “I did not want her to not feel beautiful,” her mother told Today.
They tried covering her baldness, but wigs were itchy and scarves wouldn’t stay on. (Try these natural remedies to treat hair loss.)
Courtesy Daniella WrideThen the school announced its “Crazy Hair Day” competition in April, and Daniella and Gianessa decided that rather than hiding Gianessa’s baldness under scarves or a wig, they would celebrate it. Daniella bought scrapbook-sticker jewels and decorated her daughter’s head with floral designs and even an owl. “They just fit her personality,” Daniella told CNN. “She’s so vibrant.”
On the morning of the competition, Gianessa was nervous. Would her friends think it was funny or freaky? She had nothing to fear. Bedazzled Gianessa was a hit—and the winner of the crazy-hair competition. Gianessa is now glad she dared to go bare. “I was sad at first when I lost all my hair,” she told People, “but now I love being bald. I can do things to my head that other kids can’t. I’m thinking now it might be fun to decorate my head with some sparkly butterflies and flowers.”