Kylie Bamberger first noticed a small patch of missing hair on her head when she was just 12 years old. By the time she was a sophomore in high school, the California native had gone completely bald, also losing her eyelashes, eyebrows, and all other hair on her body.
It was during this time that Bamberger found out that she had alopecia, an autoimmune disease that affects about 5 percent of people worldwide and results in hair loss on the scalp and elsewhere. But rather than hiding her condition or feeling self-conscious about it, Bamberger has learned to embrace it—and her wedding day was no exception.
"There was no way I was going to wear a wig at my wedding," she told Inside Edition. "I really enjoy standing out and feeling different."
The 27-year-old recently shared a throwback of herself on her wedding day in October when she decided to walk down the aisle wearing nothing but a headband on her head to match her dreamy white gown. But while she oozes with confidence now, things weren't always so easy.
When she first started to lose her hair, Bamberger tried all sorts of treatments, including steroid injections. She so desperately wanted her hair to grow back that she even resorted to doing headstands several times a day, hoping to increase blood flow to her scalp, she shared in the interview. (Related: How Much Hair Loss Is Normal?)
And when doctors diagnosed her with alopecia, she started wearing wigs to avoid feeling like she stood out.
It wasn't until 2005 that Bamberger decided that she was happy with herself just the way she is. So she shaved her head and hasn't looked back ever since.
"When I lost my hair, I was so focused on what I had lost that I hadn't necessarily focused on what I had gained," she said in a recent Instagram video. "I gained the ability to finally love myself."
Wanted to share with you all a little tidbit on what makes you beautiful & #WhatIModel. @si_swimsuit issue was more diverse than ever before, celebrating women's bodies as they are. We still need more awareness for hair loss, maybe a bald model featured?!?! @mj_day !! #lovemyswimsuit @swimsuitsforall @womenIRL @aerie @healthmagazine #aerieswim #aeriereal #womenirl #siswimsearch
With her inspirational posts and contagious confidence Bamberger is proving that at the end of the day, self-love and embracing yourself as you are is what matters most—especially on your wedding day.