Kayla Martell, a 21-year-old beauty pageant contestant, proved you don’t need natural hair to win a beauty contest, when she brought home the title of Miss Delaware and qualified for Miss America.
Young Kayla suffers from alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that attacks her hair follicles and practically causes baldness. Despite her condition, Miss Martell competed in the beauty contest several times, but was finally thinking of giving up her dream of winning the Miss Delaware title. A meeting with five-year-old Lilliana Hakim, who suffered from the same condition she did, changed her mind and inspired her to keep on trying. And this time around, her dream came true as she was named Miss Delaware and got to represent her home state in the Miss America beauty pageant.
Some say Kayla Martell won the title because, unlike the previous times she competed, she wore a wig to conceal her condition. Asked how she feels on the matter, the bubbly beauty queen responded “not at all. I hope the judges picked me because I knew I could fulfill the jobs of Miss Delaware.” She added that she only wears the wig on occasions, because it makes her feel more approachable, but she usually prefers the natural look.
Kayla started losing her hair when she was just 10 years old. She noticed her part was widening, and when that turned into a bald spot, doctors diagnosed her with alopecia areata. Though it wasn’t easy going through her teen years with a disease like this, she handled it with grace, and is now using her position as Miss Delaware to find and help other people who have alopecia.