EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – A second grader from Eau Claire has been crowned Little Miss Wisconsin United States. She's using a unique personal experience to show kids that beauty shines from the inside out.
Joslyn Larson walked away with the crown after competing in her first Little Miss Wisconsin United States pageant. Her parents say they were more nervous than she was. "I definitely had a moment of panic when we walked in and they were doing hair and makeup and you see all the girls with their big curls," said Joslyn’s mom, Jaclyn.
The 8 year-old is not your typical beauty queen. Joslyn was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata two years ago. Alopecia causes hair loss from some or all areas of the body. Joslyn's hair loss began slowly but recently has progressed.
"Even her school pictures this year, she has a full head of hair but over the winter it kind of took control," says Jake Larson, Joslyn’s father. There is currently no cure for Alopecia. They tried a variety of treatments to minimize hair loss, but nothing worked. "It got to the point where we didn't feel like we needed to keep subjecting our daughter to steroids and things that weren't going to do anything for her,” said Jaclyn.
Joslyn wore headbands to cover the hair loss until one day she came home and told her family she wanted to shave her head and tell everyone about her condition. "My hair was falling out anyways and I thought it was really annoying me so I shaved everything off," said Joslyn.
She now confidently sports her hat collection to school and when her head gets cold. "The best choice we had was to make sure she was confident, and comfortable and happy. That’s the best medicine we could give her," says Joslyn’s mom.
Joslyn says she was nervous when she first stepped on stage for competition but her nerves went away eventually. Her pageant experience gave her the opportunity to meet friends and her parents say it helped her confidence.
Joslyn’s parents say they are very proud of her and describe the experience at the pageant as both exciting and emotional. “I’m not much of a crier but I teared up a little bit last night when I saw her get crowned and the sash and all of that and yes, I’m just a proud daddy,” says Jake Larson.
On or off stage, the second grader isn't letting Alopecia stop her from being brave. She says she hopes her experience teaches others the importance of being confident. "Because if you’re not (confident), then you'll be just scared of everything," says Joslyn.
She hopes to partner with organizations that support people with Alopecia. "I want to help people because I feel like that's a good thing to do. I want people to live," says Joslyn.
Joslyn will head to Orlando, Florida this summer to compete for the national title.