Earlier this year, 17 year old Andrea Sierra Salazar of McAllen, Texas was diagnosed with stage two lymphoma. Salazar had to miss two months of school while undergoing chemotherapy treatment and her mother suggested that she pursue her dream of modeling during the time off.

After starting treatment, Salazar began to lose her hair which caused her confidence to plummet. “Before chemotherapy I had always been a confident person,” Salazar said. “So when my hair started to fall out I would look in the mirror and I wouldn’t feel that confident about myself.”

Salazar wore wigs in her modeling shoots, but she still did not feel comfortable. Salazar was hesitant to pose for photos without a wig, but later made the decision to accept herself as she was.

“[At first] I didn’t feel confident enough to do a version without a wig,” she said, “but then I realized that I had no reason to be ashamed of the way I looked, I should be proud.”

Salazar posed without hair or a wig in a series of photos taken by photographer Gerardo Garmendia. According to Garmendia, Salazar came up with the concept of the photos- a princess without a wig.

Salazar posted the photos onto Twitter with the caption, “Cancer doesn’t stop me from being a princess.”

The photos have gone viral, garnering over 100,000 retweets.

Salazar hopes to inspire other girls and to show that beauty comes in different forms.

“I see all these little girls, and you can see it in their faces that they lose all confidence in themselves,” Salazar said. “I want them to know that your hair or your physical attributes doesn’t define who you are—what really matters is your inner beauty, the way you treat others, and if you’re a kind person, that shows through.”

 

Jowelle M. is a college student interested in sociology, political science, and Spanish. Aside from academics, Jowelle enjoys blogging, reading, music, and spending time with family. She is happiest when she is working with others to improve the community.