An inspiring six-year-old girl from Haringey is spreading some love and light this season with her debut book ‘I Am Not My Hair,’ which details her hair loss journey.

Schoolgirl Delena Thompson was diagnosed with alopecia at just four years old – a medical hair loss condition which is more commonly associated with adults.

Delena’s mother, Telena Longman, explained “Alopecia was not something I was aware of until my daughter was diagnosed with it.

“She had been sick for a month. She had constant headaches, and her body always seemed to be aching. She did get better but then we noted she had a coin sized patch. We then started to find more patches and by the time her brother was born, Delena’s hair was matting together. The doctors said there was nothing more they could do and advised us to cut off her hair.”

When the day came for Delena to get her hair cut by her father, Delvin Thompson, she told her mum ‘I’m not going to be beautiful without hair.”

Deeply moved, Telena also got her hair cut to stand in solidarity with her daughter and to show her that it’s possible to look beautiful with little or no hair.

It was during a chance discussion at a hairdresser, that Juliet Coley got the idea to approach Delena to write a book. Juliet is the Founder of BlakJak Media, the only company in Europe specialising in publishing books written by black children.

Juliet recalled, “There are so many books out there about young black girls embracing their beautiful and natural hair, and after learning of Delena’s hair journey I was impressed by the courage and strength she exhibited having none and thought her story would make a great book.

“I’ve experienced hair loss myself when I underwent chemotherapy for colon cancer. I found the experience traumatic, so when I met Delena, and heard about the positive way she dealt with it, I had nothing but admiration for her.”

Since the publication of ‘I Am Not My Hair’ in November 2021, Delena has become a bit of a media star, featuring in several media outlets, and getting a lot of support and love on social media.

On what she wanted to achieve with the book, Delena said, “I wanted to write a book so I could share what it was like to lose my hair. I feel ok about having Alopecia because I’ve learnt about why I have alopecia and I know that having alopecia can’t stop me. I want people to be aware of alopecia and I want people to stop bullying people who have alopecia or look different.”

Delena added, “I want anyone who feels or looks different to know that they are not alone. They are loved and they will always have a friend in me.”

Everyone who meets Delena says she’s an inspiration, and she lives by the motto, ‘I am brave. I am smart. I am Beautiful’ which she shares everywhere she goes.

Delena’s parents, Telena and Delvin said, “We are extremely proud of her. Every single one of us. Delena hopes that through reading ‘I Am Not My Hair’, people will understand how people with alopecia feel and bring understanding of the condition.”

To buy a copy of ‘I Am Not My Hair’, published by BlakJak Media, please visit: www.younglitstars.com

To find out more about Delena’s story, please visit www.delenathompson.com

Photography by @littlepopupstudio www.littlepopupstudio.co.uk

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