Brave middle schooler tells peers she's bald

Story highlights

  • Katarina Lucardie wanted to stop wearing a wig
  • Her school helped her make a documentary about alopecia
  • Students attended the film's screening and were able to ask Katarina questions
  • Katarina is happy she told her peers she's bald and now goes to school without her wig
Middle schooler Katarina Lucardie didn't expect to see her classmates cry when she decided to show them her big secret.
She was bald and didn't know how to tell her peers. But after teaming up with her teachers, the Colorado Springs, Colorado, student helped make a documentary about why she has no hair. Now she is the face of bravery for her classmates.
It all started after Katarina wrote a letter to her school counselor: "I have a disease and it makes me lose my hair," she wrote.
The 11-year-old was born with alopecia areata, an autoimmune skin disease that results in hair loss on the scalp and other places on the body.
The condition affects 2% of Americans, both male and female, according to the National Institutes of Health. People with alopecia generally start losing hair in their youth, which was the case for Katarina. At age 8, she started seeing patches of her hair on the floor of the tub after taking showers and on her pillow after getting out of bed.
With no real cure available, Katarina went completely bald at 9.
She sported a medium-length black wig throughout much of elementary school, but after graduating, she approached her mom and said she wanted to stop wearing it in middle school.
She said the wig irritated her scalp, especially during gym activities, and she felt hot while wearing it. But most importantly, Katarina says, she just wanted to be herself around her friends.
"I was fearful she was going to get picked on. She was picked on a little in elementary school," said her mother, Carmela Aranda.
She had seen students questioning Katarina about her condition, asking her why she was losing her hair and whether she was sick.