SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Just about any person can tell you that their hair means a lot to them.
For many, the thousands of brown, black, blonde, red or even gray strands sprouting from their scalps are intertwined with their self-identities and how the world perceives them.
That’s why losing her hair at a young age was all the more challenging, said Savannah native Serenity Sills.
“When it first started happening to me, I was like, ‘I’m less of a girl, like I don’t feel as girly as the other girls,’” Sills told WSAV.com NOW.
In Sills’ family, the roots of hair loss run deep; her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all battled with alopecia.
“Mom would always say, ‘it’s not going to pass on to you, we’re going to do whatever we can to make sure you don’t start to lose your hair,’” Sills said.
But during her middle and high school years, she began noticing the telltale signs of the autoimmune disease.
So did her peers.
“I was teased and called ‘bald headed’ before I actually was,” Sills said.
“I was upset that I couldn’t wear a simple ponytail like any other girl, and as I got older, I tried to hold on to whatever hair I had left by wearing different styles that would hide my bald spots,” she said.
In 2014, she was diagnosed with lupus and discovered the illness also contributed to her hair loss.
After trying nearly every remedy out there, Sills realized not much could be done, and amid her battle, she eventually chose to embrace what was happening to her.
Sills made the bold decision to chop off her remaining hair.
“I was nervous at first, you never know how people are going to accept it,” she said.
These days, while she still sometimes wears wigs, she proudly rocks her bare scalp, and says it’s been well-received.
“Once you come to terms with it, it’s the best thing ever,” Sills said, adding, “it’s a conversation starter for sure, because people come up all the time like, ‘oh my gosh, I love that you’re rocking your bald head!’”
‘The Girl with No Hair’: How her alopecia journey inspired a children’s book
Sills says her experiences with hair loss led her to want to inspire other young girls who may be going through similar issues, no matter the cause.
It’s how she developed the children’s book character of Glory, a child who embraces her bald head with confidence.
“I may not have hair to curl, straighten or braid, but I don’t let that rain on my parade,” reads a line from Sills’s first-ever book, titled “The Girl with No Hair.”
The author tells WSAV.com NOW that she hopes Glory can provide the representation for girls with hair loss that she wishes she had seen while growing up with alopecia.
“I just wanted them to have a character they can look up to who’s very super-confident and doesn’t even care that she doesn’t have any hair, so they can identify with her and begin to adopt some of those feelings,” Sills said.
To her fellow adults, Sills says this book is for them, too.
“They can learn from it as well, and hopefully, it will inspire them to maybe sometimes rock a bald head, you know, it’s not too bad!” Sills laughed.
“Hold your head up high, who cares if people stare?” the book concludes. “Wear your bald head proudly, and make them wish they were the girl with no hair.”
The book was released this week and is available to purchase through Amazon or Sills’ website, which you can visit by clicking here.