I Am Not My Hair: 10-Year-Old Morgan Colen’s Courage and Triumph
Morgan Colen Photo/ Creative Soul Photography
Morgan Colen was diagnosed with alopecia when she was three years old. Although she lost her hair, she did not lose her shine. At just 10 years old, Morgan is an author, model, and the recipient of the I Am Hope Foundation 2022 Outstanding Youth Award for her contribution to help young girls with hair loss feel confident.
Morgan lives with her mother and four siblings in Maryland. She attributes her courage and strength to her mother, Maxine Galloway, and her extended Caribbean family circle.
To say this young Virgin Islander is living life boldly would be an understatement. While most women put a lot of money, time, and effort to obtain a certain hairstyle as a way to express themselves, Morgan chooses other means to showcase her rich and vibrant personality.
In her interview with Unstoppable Yes You, Morgan opened up about living with alopecia to help destigmatize hair loss in young girls.
For a lot of people, their hair is a big part of who they are. How did you cope with losing your hair?
I started wearing wigs in kindergarten to hide my hair loss. I wasn’t sure how the kids at school would react, and I was afraid of being teased. I got a lot of compliments from my friends about my hairstyles. But one day at school, my head felt so hot under the wig that I pulled it off.
My classmates laughed - but more in delight at my bravery. The next day my mom asked if I wanted to wear my wig and I said, “no.” I felt free without it.
I started wearing headbands and hats once it started to get cold outside. My mom bought plain hats and we would decorate them with flowers to match my outfits.
You won your first beauty pageant at six years old. Why did you enter the pageant?
I was living in Georgia at the time, attending Rockbridge Elementary School. I saw a flyer at school for the Little Miss Rockbridge Elementary School Beauty Pageant. I brought it home and asked my mom if I could enter the pageant. She was very supportive although I wasn’t sure I would win because of my alopecia, but I did.
After winning the beauty pageant you wrote a book. What was the book about?
I had so much fun participating in the beauty pageant that I wanted to write about it. When I won, I realized that not having any hair did not prevent me from winning. I won because of my talent and personality. Even though I lost one crown - my hair, I won another.
My book Morgan's Crown is about my experience with alopecia and the beauty pageant. I want young girls with hair loss who read my book to know that they should not judge themselves...my message is just be you.
What else are you doing to help young girls with alopecia?
My mom cofounded a WhatsApp group chat with Rahma Kamara called Mothers United to support mothers and children with alopecia. It’s a small group of young girls across the United States and even London, England. We meet once a month via Zoom and talk about our experience with hair loss.
A lot of the girls have been bullied. So, I offer encouragement and support to help the cope and to build their confidence. Sometimes I call the girls in the group to get them through a rough day.
I also donated a decorative hat to a girl with alopecia every time someone purchased my book.
How did you get into modeling?
In 2020, my mom saw an ad for the Bailey Modeling Agency competition on social media and submitted the photo she had taken of me for my book cover. I wasn't sure how it would be received because I had not seen many people who looked like me in the media.
The competition was based on online votes and I won the kid girls category. Winning the modeling competition really boosted my confidence.
After I won the competition, Creative Soul Photography saw my photo on Instagram and asked my mother if I could model for their 2021 calendar cover. They are a husband and wife team who capture underrepresented beauty and share the photographs in themed books and calendar series.
I have done three photo shoots with Creative Soul so far, and will be featured in their upcoming book Crowned, which comes out May 2023.
I am now represented by the Skin I’m In Model and Talent Agency. They work with models with diverse skin tones, skin types, and abilities, including alopecia and vertiligo.
You are also a brand ambassador for My Pretty Little Gift. Why did you partner with this brand?
Yes - My Pretty Little Gift is an online store that sells dolls, and I am one of four brand ambassadors. For every doll they sell, they donate one alopecia doll to a child with cancer or alopecia. I feel proud to represent this brand because they are giving back to kids with hair loss like me.
What advice would you give to young girls struggling to cope with alopecia?
I would tell them, “Be yourself. Don’t beat yourself up and embrace what you're self-conscious about.”
Complete this sentence. I feel unstoppable when…
I feel unstoppable when I feel comfortable in my own skin.