Meet Kayla Martell. Come Saturday, she may just be our country’s first bald Miss America.
Martell suffers from alopecia areata, a rare condition that causes unexplained hair loss. Martell began losing her hair around the age of 10 and by the time she was 13, she was completely bald. Though Martell usually wears a wig while competing on the pageant circuit (“There’s nothing wrong with embellishing what you have. I want a great hairstyle!”), she eschews the look in her down time.
“The thought of getting a wig never crossed my mind at all,” she told MSNBC. “My mother first brought up the suggestion and brought home this awful brown wig… I wore it to school, but took it off in the middle of the day, put it in my backpack and never looked back.”
Martell competed in the Miss Delaware pageant five times before winning it this past June — and now she’s in Las Vegas for her chance at the Miss America crown. All Miss America contestants run on a platform of sorts, and Martell’s is, unsurprisingly, alopecia. Martell also has a blog, where she writes about her day to day life, her duties as Miss Delaware, and her experience with alopecia. It’s a nice, heartfelt read and she’s a good writer — but she also may be the first beauty queen we’ve ever given two hoots about. While we don’t know if she’s running with or without her wig in Vegas, we’re rooting for her. And we hope if she does win, she plants that crown on her gorgeous bald head without a second thought.
Watch Martell on CBS’ Early Show in June, with her adorable partner in alopecia awareness, Lily.