Little girl mocked for hairlessness encourages others to embrace alopecia
"I want to show everyone in the world that if you have alopecia it's okay to tell people."
PHOTO: Magazine Features

Sandy Pawlowski (39) from Abbess Roding, Essex, feared her daughter Eva, would struggle with losing her hair but, to her surprise, the little girl happily shows off her head and doesn’t hide from the world.

Eva’s first symptom – a small bald patch behind her ear – appeared when she was just two years old.

And despite doctors' believing it would grow back, she eventually started losing all her hair within a year.

Growing up, Eva was stared at and subjected to comments from strangers. She’s been called a “boy in female clothing”, a “cancer” victim and even “baldy”.

But eight-year-old Eva has taken it all in her stride and she proudly flaunts her hairlessness.

"I want to show everyone in the world that if you have alopecia it's okay to tell people.

"When I started to have alopecia I always wore a hat so no one noticed, then hats annoyed me so I stopped wearing them.

"Not hiding my alopecia makes me feel a lot better; I'm very proud of it and ignore those people who call me rude names.

"I really want to show everyone that it's not scary to show your alopecia," little Eva added.

Mom-of-two and event coordinator Sandy says initially it was difficult finding help for her daughter, who was eventually diagnosed after repeated blood tests and consulting a dermatologist. 

Sandy says for a long time she felt “guilty about feeling devastated” that her daughter had alopecia.

"We watched as her bald patches increased in size and number. At the time it was a struggle.

"I was devastated and then wracked with guilt for feeling so upset about it. My little princess had beautiful hair and you just don't expect it to fall out one day.”

But as it turned out, Sandy says, Eva wasn't particularly self-conscious and losing her hair wasn't a major problem for her.

"We were first told her hair would probably grow back in a year, but then at age three-and-a-half years it all fell out within the space of a week."

Since developing alopecia universalis, Eva has lost her eyebrows, eyelashes and hair all over her body, which her mom says has drawn unwelcome comments.

"Eva is generally a strong, outgoing, happy-go-lucky girl but we have had moments and tears over the last five years. She has to contend with always being stared and pointed at and sometimes even being laughed at.

"Sometimes there have been comments like, 'Why is that boy in girl's clothes?' or 'Why doesn't she have hair?'

"She was called 'baldy baby' and various other things over the years, no doubt she’ll have more to contend with as she gets older,” Sandy says.

An elderly man even patted Eve on the head once and said: 'Sonny, your mom cut that short”. But she says the worst is when people just assume her daughter has cancer.

"People give or want to buy her things or tell her she's a brave girl."

At the age of seven, Eva was donated a wig by the Little Princess Trust, which she occasionally wears as a fashion accessory alongside headbands.

The family is fundraising for a specialist wig that is “less itchy and scratchy” to give Eva the choice to style her hair if she chooses to in future.

"It will allow her to flip her hair naturally and give her a hairline. Currently she can't make a plait or ponytail but with the new wig she’ll be able to do that.”

Eva hopes to inspire others by becoming a model when she grows up. She recently enrolled at Models of Diversity, a charity that helps to promote people less typically seen in the media.

Little Eva hopes to show people that alopecia is nothing to be “afraid of” or “embarrassed about”.

"Eva explains to other kids that she has alopecia, it's mainly children who ask and don't have inhibitions or fears to talk about it.

"She's not ashamed or embarrassed, she happily walks into a room of strangers without feeling the need to hide, standing waving like The Queen, she's a little comedienne and actress,” Sandy says.

Founder of Models of Diversity Angel Sinclair said she admires little Eva’s strength.

"For a young girl who is only eight years of age and dealing with alopecia, she’s admirable and definitely an inspiration to not only those who also currently deal with this illness but to all of us.

"I strongly believe children like Eva need to see people with disabilities represented in fashion, I feel it’s so important as this will develop role models they can follow and look up too.”

Source: Magazine Features

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