Olivia Rusk lost all of her hair at age two, just after she had her childhood vaccines. Although her hair grew back by the time Olivia turned four, she recently lost all her hair again and this time it wasn’t just the hair on her head. Her eyebrows and eyelashes fell out too.
Olivia suffers from alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that can cause rapid and severe hair loss. Little is known about this disease and there is no known cure. Treatments may work but are unreliable. Most people who suffer from alopecia wear wigs or hairpieces to hide their hair loss.
But not eleven-year-old Olivia Rusk. Olivia has chosen to go “el natural” and hasn’t let hair loss interfere with her self-esteem or her life. In fact, Olivia has already launched a successful career. She was recently chosen to be a kid caster on Radio Disney, an opportunity that Olivia is very excited about.
“They interviewed me about my story and … they just loved me so much that they said, would you like to be a kid caster? And I was like, uh yeah, Radio Disney!”
She’s also worked as a model and together with her mom, Sandy Rusk, has launched an innovative t-shirt company called What Do You See Designs. Each t-shirt features an ink blot and the phrase “What do you see?” The designs represent the way people see things differently, especially when they look at bald people.
Olivia is often asked whether she’s suffering from some form of cancer, but she states “I’m not sick. I just lose all my hair.”
Recently, White Cliffs Hair Studio, a company that manufactures hair systems, has asked Olivia to be their national spokesmodel, presenting yet another opportunity for her to seize and be proud of.
Most adults suffering from hair loss could learn a lot from Olivia’s upbeat and positive attitude. Olivia puts it succinctly, stating that hair loss doesn’t matter because she likes herself just the way she is — wise words for someone who is just eleven years old.
Olivia’s mom is a huge supporter. She is involved with the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (www.naaf.org) and works as the support group leader in Indiana, working to raise awareness about alopecia.
Olivia’s story will inspire you whether or not you too are coping with hair loss. We could all take a cue from Olivia’s positive attitude.
Check out this YouTube video featuring Olivia being interviewed on a local television station: