Getting senior portraits taken is an experience many teens look forward to. But for one high school senior in Kansas, the event meant so much more than just a pretty picture. This year, Madisyn Babcock was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called alopecia, which causes hair loss on the scalp or other areas of the body.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride,” Babcock tells Babble. “It’s very hard at first. I felt helpless.”
With senior photos right around the corner, the teen says she felt especially vulnerable. But about a month before her senior portraits, Babcock came up with the idea to use the photo shoot as an opportunity to spread awareness about her disorder and promote natural beauty.
Babcock disclosed to Yahoo that since losing her hair, she had always worn head covers to hide the bald spots on her scalp. But for her photo shoot with Chelsea Taylor of Chelsea Taylor Photography, Babcock chose not only to expose her head, but adorn it with beautiful floral designs drawn and painted by her artist mom.
She says the flowers are symbolic of how she has blossomed as a person. “I also loved the irony,” Babcock adds, “growth and blossoming of flowers on a head that does not grow hair.”
Photographer Chelsea Taylor tells Babble that she’d worked with Babcock previously, both before and after she’d lost her hair.
“I loved Madisyn’s spirit from the moment I met her,” Taylor says. “Watching [her] go through this process has actually been a joy — her attitude is always positive and she sees every situation as an opportunity to break beauty norms and show others how to be confident in themselves!”
Babcock tells Babble that while it was scary putting herself out there, she wanted to show people that it’s “normal to be scared.” What’s important is what you do with that feeling. With her senior portraits, Babcock took control of her fear and turned her differences into “a work of art.” It’s no surprise her unique and gorgeous photos have gone viral, touching and empowering so many.
“I never thought the photos would have gotten as much publicity as they have,” says Babcock. “It’s been surreal … my heart is so warm from all of the love surrounding alopecia.”
Babcock shares that more anything she wants to help and inspire people.
“I want people to take away that the false societal conditions surrounding beauty do not actually define your beauty,” she says. “Hair loss or not.”
Taylor, who specializes in portraits for teen and senior girls, says that her favorite part of her work is helping girls feel beautiful and comfortable in their own skin.
“I want young women to know it’s OK to not fit any one beauty standard and that being themselves is their power.”
The striking photos she took of Babcock demonstrate such power beautifully. Babcock shares that the photo shoot with Taylor felt natural, saying:
“Like it was really me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like myself than in the moments that Chelsea took photos of me for my senior portraits.”
And it certainly shows in the confidence, serenity, and joy she radiates!
“Working with Madisyn has been a blessing,” says Taylor, “and watching her grow as a person has been an honor.”