In a recent Human Interest story, PEOPLE Magazine featured a mother and daughter whose photos have captured the internet’s heart.
“They are two of the most beautiful people I’ve met, inside and out,” said Kellie, of Kellie Rose Photography, who is responsible for the joyous photographs. “They are here to show everyone that BALD IS BEAUTIFUL!”
Seven-year-old Rose Tavenner developed autoimmune disease alopecia a few years ago. Alopecia areata affects 147 million people worldwide according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. The symptoms often first appear in childhood. This hair loss disease is caused when the immune system attacks hair follicles. Its causes aren’t completely understood and there is currently no cure, only treatments with varying results. Some with alopecia have circular bald patches that come and go, others lose all their hair on their heads, their faces and even their entire bodies.
In a Facebook post earlier this year her mother Kristi wrote, “She hasn’t let this disease slow her down and will only grow stronger.”
“Thanksgiving 2015 I noticed 2 bald spots the size of a quarter on the back of her head,” Tavenner continued. “In 4 months she went from full head of gorgeous hair to completely bald … In the end, our beautiful Rose still shines like a star and loves to the fullest.”
Rose has been an encourager to her mother, who also now finds herself bald, but for a different reason. Diagnosed with breast cancer in April, Tavenner underwent a double mastectomy before learning she would have to undergo chemotherapy treatments.
Hair loss is an expected side effect of toxic cancer drugs, but most of the time cancer survivors will grow their hair back after completing treatment. Some drugs, however, like chemotherapy drug Taxotere, have been linked to permanent hair loss.
There are often emotional consequences of baldness for cancer patients, as their lack of hair is a visible announcement to strangers and constant reminder of the illness they are fighting.
However, for Tavenner, her hair loss became a way to bond with Rose and relate to her young daughter’s experience. In their photo shoot, they are shown haloed by sunlight, surrounded by flowers, their gentleness and joy evident in laughter and sincere smiles that send a message that baldness doesn’t have to steal a woman’s hope or beauty.
The National Alopecia Areata Foundation