Earlier this year, 7-year-old Gianessa Wride was diagnosed with alopecia. Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks hair follicles, resulting in total or partial hair loss. “There is no cure or medication she can take,” wrote her Gianessa’s mother Daniella, “They can do pill steroids, but once she stops taking them the hair falls out again.”
Gianessa’s hair loss started with a quarter-sized bald patch. The hair then started thinning around her temples. Shocking and worrying her family, within just a month, Gianessa was completely bald. “I tried not to get too upset and I didn’t want her to think it was her fault. I did not want her to not feel beautiful,” Daniella, 29, told TODAY.
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, 6.8 million people in the U.S. live with alopecia. It most often occurs in people under 20 and affects both genders equally. Gianessa’s family brought her to a dermatologist, who recommended treatments with steroids, injections and harsh topical creams. The family decided against using any of these forms of chemical intervention. “I want to let her embrace it and love herself as she is right now,” said Daniella.
Daniella Wride works as a nurse in Salem, Utah. She visited Gianessa’s first-grade class to explain the reason why her daughter had lost her hair and help them understand what Gianessa is experiencing. She asked her classmates to help keep Gianessa away from bullies. “It is just hard to watch as a mom when your kid cries when someone is mean to your child,” Daniella explained. At home, Daniella encourages her daughter to accept herself the way she is.
When Gianessa’s school had “Crazy Hair Day”, she was worried that she wouldn’t be able to participate. However, Daniella had other plans. She bought hundreds of jewel stickers and created a very special look on Gianessa’s head. Daniella designed colorful flowers and an owl. The pictures of Gianessa have gone viral, raising awareness about alopecia and strengthening the network of people who suffer from the condition.
“I cannot count [the number of] people who messaged me pictures of their own kids with alopecia. She inspired them so much to just embrace themselves and love themselves,” Daniella Wride reported. “I hope people get a lot of positivity from this and know you are beautiful no matter what you look like and what you are going through.”