Imagine your child being mistreated by peers because she is different in some way beyond your control.
Karma Vollmer knows all too well the wounds a bully or even well-meaning adults can inflict on a child. Karma’s daughter Rian (11) is a competitive dancer at On Your Toes School of Dancing – a social butterfly with the ability to strike up a conversation with almost anyone. She is a beloved daughter, sister and a friend. She’s a girl with a lot going for her – and she also happens to have thinning hair, and sometimes bald.
Diagnosed at the age of four with the autoimmune disorder alopecia areata, Rian has dealt with relentless name calling and hazing from other kids and was once deducted points at a dance competition because her hair was ‘not like that of her teammates.’ Karma has been the recipient of unsolicited advice and prying questions in regard to her daughter’s lack of hair, and while she is happy to explain, “Bald is beautiful! Who needs hair?” she says. It is frustrating to sometimes have to defend her family’s reputation: “No she is not malnourished, and yes we have been to a doctor.”
According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (naaf.org), as many as 6.8 million Americans are affected by alopecia areata. The cause is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors; there is no treatment and alopecia is not contagious.
“Her amazing personality shines brightly through all the peaks and valleys,” says Karma.
Staying on Her Toes
“Rian enjoys dance because she is able to express herself in a family-like environment where is is accepted – hair or no hair,” says Karma. A beautiful girl with a beautiful soul, we think Rian Vollmer is someone you should know.