True Florida Teen Beauty
Founder and Director, Ashley Le Grange was excited to hear of the nationwide search of the America's 50 Most Beautiful Children. When board member and local (phenomenal) photographer, Claire Anderson from Clara Bella Photography, asked her if she knew anyone who met the criteria, she jumped for joy! Within the Women Making Wave's Program, which is a part of the Stand UP Foundation, each of our members is unique and truly beautiful. When Sophia was chosen Ashley could not have been more proud. Read on and you will quickly understand why... Sophia is truly beauty revived.
Meet Sophia. She is beauty revived.
Sophia is beautiful, strong, courageous and in my opinion a hero. Sophia was diagnosed with Trichotillomania at the age of 7 years old. This rare medical condition ultimately made her spiral into depression, eating disorders and being bullied. After years of learning how to cope with trich, Sophia is now a strong, happy and healthy 15 year old girl. She dedicates her free-time to a local non-profit that focuses on the mental health and well being of school aged girls in an effort to help them cope with similar issues so many young girls face these days. The fact that Sophia has gone through what she has at such a young age, and has not only overcome her issues but now supports other girls is what I would call a modern day hero. I was so fortunate to meet Sophia, and even more grateful that she opened up to me to share her story. Here is Sophia’s story - her life as she knows it- in her own words.
My life changed when I was diagnosed with Trichotillomania. Trichotillomania is a medical condition where one has the uncontrollable urge to pull out their hair, resulting in bald spots. When I was diagnosed, Trich was rarely discussed; therefore, when I went to my pediatrician to ask him about my pulling, he simply told me to stop. It was a hard concept for me to grasp at the age of seven that I was doing something I didn't want to, but it brought me pleasure. I couldn’t do what the other kids could, so I grew up isolated, and shamed myself for what I couldn't control. Throughout second grade, my teachers punished me when I pulled. Because of the stress this put me under, I was completely bald when school ended. The following year, I wore a wig to my new school. Slowly, other students realized that my hair didn't look right and would even dare me to take my wig off.
My Trich then went into remission, and in a matter of time I looked like a normal girl again. Unfortunately in seventh grade, I relapsed. I immediately started to feel a strong sense of loneliness. I didn't have time to worry about boys, or makeup. Instead, I had to hide bald spots. Slowly depression and bulimia came into play, and all positivity was sucked out of my life. I even wrote goodbye notes because I thought I had the strength to take my life. I never attempted anything, but the thought always lingered in my head.
In highschool, I was confident and could finally just be Sophia. I had enough hair to get extensions, I was healthy and happy, and loved school. But once kids started to find out about my condition, they became curious and that’s when the bulling began.
All my life I have always asked, Why me? and I could never answer.Well now I can. Why me? Because I am strong. All this pain I had to endure made me realize how amazing I truly am. I get up out of bed everyday, and live the life of a normal teenager, whether I have hair or not. I came to the realization that I’m not my medical condition, and that all these years I have been scared of exposing myself were pointless. I realized that I can still flourish whether I have Trichotillomania or not. Maybe I couldn't go to the next pool party, but because of that, I have a story that will one day educate others on how us with Trich really work. Most importantly, I finally know that I can do anything anyone with a full head of hair can, and the only thing in my way is myself.