Sundi Rose
December 11, 2014 12:27 pm

Cinderella saved the day when she showed up to Isabella Harvey’s hospital room, bald and beautiful; just like Isabella. 5-year-old Isabella was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago. At three, Isabella was too young to feel embarrassed about losing her hair, but now, fighting another bout of cancer at five, she is starting to feel self-conscious about how she looks without hair.

Her mother, Pina Harvey, told ABC News, “She’ll wear no hat at the hospital because other kids look just like her. It’s more when she goes places where there are people that she knows, she gets more upset and wants her hat on.”

Pina wanted to do something for daughter, who was just recently released from ICU at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, to show her she is not alone and that she is as beautiful as a princess. So Pina reached out to local organizations, Heart of Hope and Bella Princess to arrange a photo shoot with one of Isabella’s favorite princesses, except this time, when Cinderella came in, she was bald. Chelsea Knutson, a performer playing Cinderella, wore a bald cap to the photoshoot and surprised Isabella, instantly making the little girl feel more secure about her hair loss.

“I didn’t want to tell her that Cinderella was going to be bald,” Pina told Today.com. “I wanted to surprise her. When [Knutson] came down the stairs [as Cinderella], her face lit up, and everyone was crying.”

When the two met for the first time, Isabella said, “Wow, you look just like me!” Needless to say, it got emotional for everyone. Alana Hubbard of Mother Hubbard Photography was there to capture the moment and said she had to shoot the duo through tears. It was such an emotional moment between Cinderella and Isabella, and everyone was moved by Isabella’s reaction. Hubbard says of the first time Isabella saw the princess, “Isabella lit up. She ripped her hat off with this huge grin.”

For Pina, it was a chance to teach her young daughter about body image and expanding the way mainstream media portrays beauty. “I said to her, ‘Look, she has no hair too, look how beautiful she is,'” Isabella’s mom told ABC News. “And that made her kind of realize that it’s OK; that she’s not the only one on the world, that other people are in the same situation. It was such an amazing feeling.”

Earlier this year, Mattel made a huge step in the right direction when it agreed to produce more bald Barbies to inspire young kids with cancer. The move came after a Change.org campaign was launched by a brave little girl with cancer, pleading with the company for more dolls that looked like her and her fellow patients.

It’s another reminder that children’s iconic characters—from Barbies to princesses—are powerful models that need to be more representative of all kids. We need more examples of diverse characters who embody the beauty and the strength of real girls, just like Isabella.

(Images via Mother Hubbard Photography)

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