This Saturday, on the 90th Miss American Pageant, one woman will make history. But it won't necessarily be the contestant who walks away with the crown.
Miss Delaware, aka Kayla Martell, has already been making headlines for being the first bald contestant in the competition's history. Kayla suffers from alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks hair follicles and suppresses or stops hair growth. It usually results in loss of hair from all over the body, but typically the scalp.
Reading about Kayla, I couldn't help but think of Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale, cousin of Jackie O, who co-starred with her mom in the 1970s documentary Grey Gardens. (She was also played by Drew Barrymore in a 2009 HBO biopic.) Little Edie also suffered from alopecia. Her hair loss was thought to play a major part in sidelining her aspirations to be an entertainer.
It's no surprise that Little Edie, or any other woman who suffers from alopecia, is up against a lot when trying to make her mark. After all, possessing Pantene-perfect, gorgeous, lush, shiny, full locks of hair is a prerequisite to being considered beautiful/confident/attractive/healthy/vital, etc. in our culture. That said, it's incredibly inspiring to see the 22-year-old beauty queen breaking down barriers for women who suffer from the condition.
That's not to say that Kayla isn't up against more than a handful of challenges in her chosen path. As you can imagine, being the contestant who looks like Britney Spears in her umbrella-wielding, car-smashing days is bound to raise a few eyebrows. Mostly, people think she's either very sick or going through chemo, she tells ABC News. So, that's why she dons the wig for competition — so she can seem more "approachable." Seems fair. After all, other women vying for the title will be sporting lipstick, a certain dress, perhaps even breast implants that they think make them look more attractive ... which is pretty much the same thing, no?
Although she'll be rockin' the goldy-locks on Saturday night for the Miss America competition, Kayla usually keeps the faux hair at home. She said, "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." How AWESOME is it that she embraces her genuine self and doesn't worry about what other people think? That's what the whole darn pageant should be about. Plus, she's already using her semi-fame to speak out about alopecia awareness, on behalf of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation.
It seems like even before a vote is cast, this chick's the one who has got the Miss America gig down pat.
How do you feel about a bald contestant winning the Miss America title?
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