By Josh Saunders
A brave schoolgirl cruelly called ‘baldy’ by strangers for her hairlessness encourages others to proudly embrace alopecia too
Sandy Pawlowski, 39, from Abbess Roding, Essex, initially feared her daughter Eva, would struggle with losing her hair but instead she happily shows it off and refuses to hide from the world.
Her first symptom, a small half-centimetre patch behind her ear, appeared at two-years-old and despite doctors’ believing it would grow back, she lost all her hair within a year.
Growing-up she faced stares from strangers and comments ranging from her being a ‘boy in female clothing’, having ‘cancer’ and even being called ‘baldy’.
Despite this, eight-year-old Eva has taken everything in her stride, proudly flaunting her hairlessness and she wants others to feel comfortable with their Alopecia too.
Eva, an aspiring model, said: “I want to show everyone in the world that if you have alopecia it’s ok 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.”
Mum-of-two Sandy says it was difficult finding help for her daughter initially but after having countless blood tests and visiting a dermatologist, Eva received a diagnosis.
She initially felt ‘guilty about feeling devastated’ that her daughter had alopecia before recognising that her daughter was embracing it instead of feeling ashamed.
Sandy, an events coordinator, said: “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.
“Fortunately for Eva, she wasn’t particularly self-aware and so losing her hair wasn’t a big issue for her.
“We were first told her hair would probably grow back in a year, but then at three-and-a-half-years-old it all fell out within the space of a week.”
Since developing Alopecia Universalis, she lost her eyebrows, eyelashes and hair all over her body, which her mum says has drawn unwelcome comments.
Sandy said: “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, pointed and sometimes laughed at.
“Sometimes there have been comments like, ‘Why is that boy in girl’s clothes?’, ‘Why doesn’t she have hair?’ and those kinds of things.
“She was called ‘baldy baby’ and various other things over the years, no doubt she will have more to contend with as she gets older.
“One elderly man even patted her on the head and said ‘Sonny, your mum cut that short’.
“The hardest thing is when people assume she has cancer, people give and 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 are currently 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.
Sandy said: “It will allow her to flip her hair naturally and give her a hairline, currently she can’t make a plat or ponytail but with the new wig she will be able to.
“By buying the wig it’s allowing her a choice, she does have a wig that she sometimes likes to wear for school discos but equally she’s just as happy ripping it off in front of hundreds of people.
“She is more likely to wear her hairband regularly, not to cover anything but to accessorise because she’s never been a big fan of hats because they are too itchy.”
Eva hopes to inspire others as a model in the future and has recently enrolled in Models of Diversity, a charity who help to promote people less typically seen in the media.
The little girl hopes to show others that Alopecia is not to be ‘afraid of’ or ‘embarrassed about’, proudly sporting her hairless head to school discos and out in public.
Sandy said: “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.
“None of us treat her any differently, so she doesn’t feel like she has to hide or be embarrassed by the people staring at her, in her eyes it’s their problem not hers.
“Eva someday hopes to become a model after meeting someone else who is an alopecia model, she wants to support others with the condition too.”
To donate to her cause visit: www.gofundme.com/487g640
Models of Diversity, are a charity who advocate and support the use of diversity throughout the fashion and beauty industry.
Angel Sinclair, founder of MoD, said: “For a young girl who is only eight-years-of-age and dealing with alopecia, she is admirable and definitely an inspiration to not only those who also currently deal with this illness but to all of us.
“She has a great network of support around her and it’s amazing to see she is still a young happy go lucky girl.
“I strongly believe children like Eva need to see people with disabilities represented in fashion, I feel it is so important as this will develop role models they can follow and look up too.
“At Models of Diversity we work hard to ensure children like Eva are granted many opportunities and that they always feel our support.
“All children who have a disability deserve the right to be part of an inclusive society where they are able to enjoy the same fun and given the same opportunities as any other child.
“I was drawn to supporting her mum because of her love for fashion and I could see Eva is such a kind and caring child, she still has that twinkle in her eye and I admire that.
“Here at Models of Diversity, we continue to work hard in making this happen as the ones we do have in the UK are still not being represented.
“We are not a modelling agency but a charity who advocated and supports the use of diversity throughout the fashion and beauty industry.”