Riley Sylvaria is a six-year-old girl who acts just like many girls her age. She loves gymnastics, pink, and her parents. The thing that makes Riley a little different? She doesn’t have any hair.
Riley was born with alopecia totalis. Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder that causes complete hair loss on the scalp. Researchers have not been able to determine the cause of alopecia totalis, but they do know that it is the result of an immune system dysfunction.
Instead of attacking illnesses in the body, the immune system sometimes attacks healthy tissue. In the case of alopecia, the immune system attacks hair follicles, leading to inflammation and hair loss.
When Riley was born, she had a full head of hair. However, soon after her birth, she started losing patches of her hair. By 15-months-old, she was completely bald.
Riley has grown up without any hair on her head. Her parents, Chelsea and Dave, have encouraged her to be confident and strong. It can still be hard, though, for a 6-year-old.
At a gymnastics competition one day, Riley told her mother that she didn’t love herself. As any parent would be, Chelsea was heartbroken. Chelsea shared, “I was a bit taken aback and said, ‘What do you mean, you don’t love yourself?’ To which she uttered my worst fear, ‘I don’t love myself because I don’t have hair!’”
That’s when Dave decided to have a conversation with his daughter about her hair. In the video, he shares, “You’re the most special girl in the whole world. It doesn’t matter if you’re bald or have hair. That doesn’t make a difference.”
The video shows an incredible moment full of love between a father and his daughter. Watch it below.
At the end of the video, you can hear Dave ask Riley if she wants her dad to shave his head. Riley smiles and nods. Chelsea then posted the next video to Facebook—Dave shaving his head.
After he shaved his head, you can see Riley smiling at him. He bends his head down and they compare their bald heads.
Chelsea shared, “I really wanted people to see Riley for who she is. The ups, the downs, the everything-in-between in dealing with alopecia.”
It’s so incredible to see a dad do everything he can to make his daughter love herself. Riley is a beautiful young girl who deserves to live her life just like any other 6-year-old girl.
In other news, Chip and Joanna Gaines did a major makeover for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Check out the incredible photos here.