It's pretty common for teenage girls to struggle with insecurities and shy away from pictures. So when a teen girl's photoshoot after getting chemotherapy hit the web, teenagers and adults everywhere were like: RESPECT. The outrageously beautiful and brave Andrea Sierra Salazar was diagnosed with stage two Nodular Sclerosis Hodgkin Lymphoma in February. And when she had her photograph taken without a wig, the internet's reaction was almost as amazing as the photos themselves.
Before Salazar's life revolved around the hospital and her treatments, it revolved around her love of modeling. Needless to say, it was difficult for Salazar after she began her chemo treatments. But when she had to drop out of school to accommodate her treatment schedule, she found herself with a lot of extra time on her hands.
Knowing that modeling brought her daughter happiness, Salazar's mother got in touch with a few photographers to gauge their interest in photographing her daughter. She told them about her daughter's illness and her passion for modeling and photography. She hoped that if she could set up a photoshoot, it would help Salazar to get back in touch with her confidence, give her something to look forward to and create an opportunity for her daughter to feel like her old self.
The response was overwhelmingly positive. Lots of professional photographers were open to taking her daughter's picture and were really excited about the idea.
Her mother ended up choosing Gerardo Garmendia, a Texas-based portrait and wedding photographer with a diverse portfolio. She then convinced her daughter to embrace her hairless look and participate in the photoshoot — which turned out to be much larger and influential than any of them were could anticipate:
It took Salazar a little while to open up to the idea. At first, without a wig, she had trouble getting a hold of her confidence. She just didn't look like herself and couldn't immediately warm up to the idea of flaunting her new look. But after meeting Garmendia, she was able to put her fears and discomfort aside and really open herself up to the experience. She came up with the idea of a "princess without a wig" and just went for it.
When Salazar posted the pictures to her Twitter, the reaction was explosively positive. People were in awe of not only her gorgeous shots, but her confidence, her strength, and her shine. She instantly became an inspiration to people who are suffering with image-altering ailments.
Kudos to Salazar for inspiring other young women to embrace the way they look, regardless of what they're going through, how they feel, or what's ahead.
Images: Andrea Sierra/Twitter; Gerardo Garmendia