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“I Am Still Beautiful.” 8-Yr-Old With Alopecia Grabs Scissors And Inspires Us All.

We can learn a lot from children, especially the way they handle unimaginable health issues with courage and grace.

When Carleigh Edwards was 7 years old, her hair started to fall out. She was diagnosed with alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition that causes the body to become allergic to its own hair. Her parents struggled to find help for their child, but Carleigh’s hair continued to fall out.

Carleigh underwent a series of uncomfortable and time-consuming treatments, including having injections directly into her scalp. Through it all, mom Courtney Edwards says she displayed wisdom beyond her years, but the hair loss dredged up a lot of unpleasant emotions for the child. She worried about being bullied at school, or about someone pulling her turban off. She even started taking showers in the dark to avoid seeing her own reflection in the mirror.

“That was hard,” Courtney told TODAY. “As a 7-year-old, having needles stuck into your head. She was brave. She just amazes me.”

Over Thanksgiving weekend, the now-8-year-old’s condition went from bad to worse. In an emotional Instagram video, Courtney describes washing her daughter’s hair and having it just fall out in her hands in clumps.

In the video, Courtney explained that she and her husband had gone into school with Carleigh after the holiday break to speak directly to the children in her school.

“She was so brave and said to her class, ‘I have alopecia areata,'” Courtney said. “‘It’s when my body is allergic to my hair. So please don’t be mean to me. And don’t make fun of me.’ Then she broke down and started weeping in my arms.”

When Courtney’s video went viral online, she received support from people far and wide. A friend introduced Carleigh to another child who has the same condition, and the two girls got to know each other. The other girl encouraged Carleigh to take control of her condition by cutting off her hair completely, and after some thought, Carleigh decided to go for it!

“My name is Carleigh,” the child said just before cutting her hair. “I have alopecia. I am ready to cut my hair. Because I am still beautiful.”

As Courtney recorded the moment on her phone, Carleigh bravely cut off all of her remaining hair before allowing her father to shave the rest down to the skin. Her siblings can be seen in the video encouraging her and telling her how beautiful she looks.

After she was done, her father and brother surprised her by shaving their heads, too.

Proving once again that we often underestimate children’s capacity for empathy, Carleigh went back to school wearing her turban to cover her bald head, and nobody bullied her! In fact, her classmates were supportive, and her teacher even started wearing a turban too, out of solidarity.

Carleigh says her entire idea of beauty has shifted due to her condition. At 8 years old, she has already discovered what some people never learn; true beauty means “bravery and love and kindness.”

We can all learn from Carleigh’s story! Not only is she changing her own perception of beauty, but she’s taking control of her condition. This kid is truly beautiful, inside and out!

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