Just the other day, a package arrived at our door with Caroline's name on it.
I knew just what it was when Marc and I saw the words "National Alopecia Areata Foundation" in the return address. (And yes, you better believe we literally started jumping up and down in our living room with excitement.)
It was finally here! She was going to LOVE it!
You see, the makers of Barbie did decide to make a bald Barbie named "Ella" (though it's not Barbie herself, she's a friend of Barbie...), but sadly, they aren't putting Ella on the retail shelves for the public. They're only making them available for children with cancer, alopecia, etc.
I had seen and filled out a request form for an Ella doll on the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) website a few months ago, so I knew at some point she would be coming our way.
And when she arrived, it couldn't have been more perfect timing.
Thank you, God.
Let me explain.
Most of the time, alopecia doesn't really matter in our day-to-day lives anymore. Yeah, yeah, we're used to the stares, but that's become apart of life just like tying your shoes or brushing your teeth. Just another part of the day when we go out. Usually we don't care and we don't let alopecia define us.
(I probably just need to pause right there and let that sink in for a minute. My best friend reminded me just the other day of how far I've come with accepting alopecia. Oh my goodness, when I think about all those dark months when the Lord took me through the long, painful process towards accepting it. I honestly never thought I'd be able to say that alopecia doesn't really matter most days! Oh, thank you, Father!)
Occasionally there are those days, and those times where the sting of alopecia returns. There is need to grieve over it again. And now that Caroline is five, the sting and the grieving are not just my own. But she, too, is now being met with insecurities. Lies about beauty are being whispered into her heart from within, and I begin to see her consider them. (at FIVE!)
I notice her looking at herself in the mirror, constantly playing dress up with the ratted-up Dollar Store hair pieces that cover about 10% of her head.
And to think, she loves those things.
She loves to play with my hair when it's wet. She combs it, puts clips and bows in it.
She doesn't talk too often about her alopecia.
Just an occasional "Mom, I wish I had hair."
She comes across so confident in her baldness... until the first time two weeks ago when I see her in a restaurant, holding her coat high enough to cover her bald head in insecurity.
And then I see a kid across the room staring and pointing at my kid. (fortunately she didn't see him)
And then, in another store, complete strangers give her quarters to put in the "Children's Miracle Network" box.
And then, while on a family ice cream outing, a girl Caroline's age tells me I should get hair for her head.
And then, other complete strangers stop me in the grocery store to ask me (in front of her!) if she is taking chemo.
Suddenly, alopecia is rearing its ugly head again.
And this time, it's not just me it's trying to take down, but now I see it beginning to affect her.
So this doll came at the perfect time.
With great curiosity, she opened the package to find a Barbie inside.
Ella comes in the box with a wig already on, (which I don't think is helpful, but they didn't ask me...) so I could tell at this point, Caroline didn't fully grasp how special this gift was going to be.
Until Daddy leaned down and pulled off Ella's brunette wig.
It was a bald Barbie!
There are no words adequate for this moment.
I can't imagine the thoughts that were running through her head.
Ella came with two wigs, a head scarf, and to Caroline's delight, a matching headband.
I am so grateful my daughter can have a doll that looks like her.
I'm glad she can have examples of real, bald women in her life even more.
I want so desperately for her to know that you don't need to have hair to be beautiful.
I want her to be so content with how the Lord has fashioned her.
Thank you, God, for these little reminders that help show my daughter that bald is BEAUTIFUL.