‘I realised that I had no reason to be ashamed’
17-year-old Andrea Sierra Salazar from McAllen, Texas is an incredible example of resilience in the face of tragedy. After being diagnosed with stage two lymphoma, she learned she would have to miss two months of school to go through chemotherapy treatment. To keep her hopes up, her mother suggested she use the time off to fully invest herself in her modeling career.
After starting her treatment, she began losing her hair so she wore a wig in her photos, but never felt comfortable. After posing for a few agencies, she did a photo shoot where she dressed as a princess with photographer Gerardo Garmendia. But this time, she decided to do it without her wig. “[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. And the photos she took are not only beautiful but empowering as well.
“Before chemotherapy I had always been a confident person,” Salazar told Buzzfeed. “So when my hair started to fall out I would look in the mirror and I wouldn’t feel that confident about myself.” But after posing for photos without her wig she saw it could inspire girls everywhere. “I see all these little girls, and you can see it in their faces that they lose all confidence in themselves,” she added. “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.”
You can follow Andrea Sierra Salazar on Twitter @sierraandrea99