HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Nine-year-old Amiyah Coleman says children at school bullied her when her hair started falling out. With the help of a Houston-area stylist, she has regained her confidence.
As clumps of strands fell from Coleman's scalp, doctors diagnosed her with alopecia.
As if looking in the mirror wasn't hard enough, she says she felt like a boy at times and the bullying sent her home in tears many days.
Teferra Fritz, Coleman's mother, says the bullying became insidious as she tried to console her daughter.
“On the school bus, they would pull her hat off, her headbands, they’d throw them across the bus,” said Fritz. She scoured doctor’s offices around the Houston area and the family tried different medicines to treat the alopecia, but Fritz says nothing worked and eventually all of Coleman's hair fell out.
Fritz also says the bullying escalated and the staff at Coleman’s elementary school did little to intervene.
“My baby had stated that if she went back to school without having any hair, she was going to cry," said Fritz.
But Fritz did not let that happen. She sought the help of Crystal Mercier, a stylist with 26 years of experience, who possesses a gift and passion for making people dealing with hair loss feel beautiful again. Coleman now has a full head of hair.
Mercier's sister Dena died in 2009 from breast cancer. Dena was the first African American model for Jordache jeans.
In the final months of Dena's life, Mercier says her sister struggled with her confidence before cancer took her life.
“When she began to lose her hair, she became very depressed Before she died she said, sister, you can show people who I am," said Mercier. She also explained that Dena’s death helped her realize her purpose in life.
“I promised her I would give her and others like her who feel bad about themselves because of hair loss an opportunity to feel good cause it rebuilds confidence, it restores self esteem,” said Mercier.
Coleman has not only regained her confidence. She now proudly says, “I’m pretty."
And for Fritz, that's all she ever wanted to hear her daughter say.