Bald and beautiful: Beauty queen suffering from alopecia could be first Miss America with no hair
By Maysa Rawi
11th January 2011
There's no denying looks take top billing at beauty pageants.
But Miss Delaware Kayla Martell is set to challenge stereotypes at the Miss America final on Saturday - as the first bald contestant.
Despite being told by organisers she doesn't have to don a wig for the Las Vegas event, Kayla, who suffers from alopecia areata, has opted to wear one 'to appear more approachable.'
The beauty queen competed for the Miss Delaware title without her wig three times before she was told she might be more successful sporting fake locks before going on to win her fourth attempt.
However, in her everyday life, Kayla prefers the natural look.
She told abc News: 'Miss America, she needs to be relatable to all people, but she also must be approachable.
Oftentimes when people see me, at first glance, they assume that I'm either very, very sick or that I'm going through chemotherapy.
'The wig gives me an opportunity to meet them and have that initial moment where they're not worried about me. Then I get to bring up my alopecia areata on my own terms.
'People are so surprised to see a bald woman, let alone a bald beauty pageant contestant.'
'When I go grocery shopping, when I'm out with my friends, when I'm at home, I'm without the wig. That's me. That's the real me.'
The 22-year-old has dreamed of being crowned Miss America since the age of three, but began losing her hair seven years later when she noticed that her parting was widening and was diagnosed when the bald patch continued to grow.
Despite being different to the other contestants, Kayla insists she doesn't feel nervous and is proud to forgo the wig in public.
She will be championing the cause for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
She told CBS news: 'The biggest thing is just to find other people out there who have alopecia.
'If you find someone who can be supportive of you and you can learn from, that's the greatest thing, to build relationships.'
Alopecia areata is a condition in which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body, usually from the scalp.
It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own hair follicles and suppresses or stops hair growth.
Scottish TV presenter Gail Porter suffers from the condition since 2005 and also refused to wear a wig to raise awareness for the condition.
Alopecia affects approximately 1.7% of the UK population and both men and women are equally affected.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/artic ... z1AkA7AWxF