One of our local contestants, Miss Delaware Kayla Martell, suffers from a rare condition that results is hair loss. But that was not enough to stop her from chasing her dream.
"If I had given up on my first, second, third or fourth try, I wouldn't be here right now," Martell told Action News.
The fifth time was the charm that crowned Kayla Martell Miss Delaware. Now she's primping and preparing for the upcoming Miss America pageant, where standing out in a group of 53 is the name of the game.
And that is something Martell's used to doing. Underneath the blonde tufts of her big and glamorous pageant hair, Kayla is bald.
"I couldn't believe that at 10 I was balding," Martell says. "Especially being a young girl. Your hair is your crowning glory."
Kayla suffers from alopecia areata (American Academy of Dermatology) - unexplainable hair loss.
Your body is essentially allergic to your hair. There are no proven treatments and no proven cure.
Kayla went through school bald. When she's not on stage, you won't see her in a wig.
"When I go grocery shopping, when I go out with my friends, when I am at home, I am without the wig. That's the real me," Martell says.
So why wear one in the Miss America Pageant?
"People are so surprised to see a bald woman let alone a bald beauty pageant contestant," Martell believes. "You want a Miss America you are comfortable walking up to and talking to without worrying, 'Should I mention this? Should I ask her about her hair?'"
When Kayla leaves for Las Vegas, she's bringing 3 suitcases packed with costumes, gowns and 4 wigs for the competition, including a very special wig for the talent round."The wig that I will be wearing for talent will probably be taped onto my head so I can do all of my turns and everything. I love this one! "
Kayla says she's on a journey to redefine the term "beauty" queen: "You can be bald and be beautiful. I think I have made history already just by getting this far."
You can cast your vote for Miss America online to help Kayla make pageant history on January 15th.
3 Delaware Valley women will be in contention January 15th, for the title of Miss America 2011. Miss Pennsylvania, Courtney Thomas, is a senior at Drexel University. Miss New Jersey, Ashleigh Udalovas, is from Millville, New Jersey. Miss Delaware, Kayla Martell, is from Dover, Delaware area.