On the Nov. 11 episode of the ABC drama, fans of Bowen’s character Scarlett O’Connor were shocked by her sudden decision to chop off her blonde locks. The decision was one that was inspired by her battle with end stage nephroblastoma at the age of four.
“Life in the White Palace (Granddad’s nickname for hospital) meant I got to grow up surrounded by children just like me,” Bowen shared. “We were mostly bald, all tubed, taped, bandaged up and stitched back together. We were all missing parts, some obvious like eyes or legs, others more hidden, like lungs and kidneys. Those who still could, tip-toed around like little fairies because chemotherapy had destroyed the muscles in our legs and it hurt to put our heels on the floor. But we were all together, so no one’s appearance came into question. No one got laughed at or teased. We were all we knew.”
Recently, the actress heard a story of a young girl who thought she couldn’t be a princess because she didn’t have long hair. “I wanted her, and others like her to know that’s not what makes a princess, or a warrior, or a superhero,” Bowen said. “It’s not what makes you beautiful either. It’s your insides that count… even if you happen to be missing half of them.”
“Every scar tells a story, every baldhead, every dark circle, every prosthetic limb, and every reflection in a mirror that you might not recognize anymore. Look deeper than skin, hair, nails, and lips. You are who you are in your bones. That is where you have the potential to shine the brightest from. It is where your true beautiful self lives.”
She hopes that sharing her experience helps others understand the beauty that lies within every individual. “If it makes even one person think twice about judging another, then in some small way, the world is better,” Bowen writes. “Self-esteem takes a lot longer to grow back than hair.”