America's Next Top Model contestant Jeana Turner was diagnosed with alopecia when she was just 10 years old. "Many people have told me I’m not beautiful," Jeana admitted on tonight's episode of the VH1 reality show competition. But for makeover week, Jeana bravely removed her long, dark wig.
"I’m a very strong person and I’ve internalized a lot of really rough things, which resulted in me losing my hair," she explained about her alopecia areata diagnosis. The common autoimmune skin disease causes "hair loss on the scalp, face, and sometimes on other areas of the body,” according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, and "affects as many as 6.8 million people in the U.S."
In an Instagram snap posted earlier today, Jeana wrote in the caption, "To my fellow Alopecians & baldies: The only way to defeat the darkness, is to become the light. YOU are the light. Your imperfection IS beautiful. YOU are beautiful. #CheersToNoBadHairDay." Amazing!
The 24-year-old Minnesota native was initially hesitant about taking off her wig, but now she's happy she did it. "Doing this is really scary, but I want to show people that it’s okay to be bald and that bald is beautiful. Losing your hair is beautiful." She added, "Removing the wig is really liberating. It’s freeing,” she said through tears. “I feel like the whole world can see me now. I feel like I can see myself now."
Regardless if she wins the competition or not, Jeana is an inspiration for anyone struggling with the disease. "Losing my hair was a symbol of strength. I didn’t know that until now."
America's Next Top Model airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on VH1.