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Tallahassee native shatters fashion world's 'norms'
Mikaya Warren was invited to take part in Italian fashion company FTL Moda's show at Ney York Fashion Week, in partnership with Global Disability Inclusion. Warren walked for designer Archana Kochhar. (Photo: Special to the Democrat) pre bonded hair Mikaya Warren knew that she wanted to be a model when she was 10 years old. Watching a fashion show at the Governor’s Square mall, she fell in love with the idea of walking runways, flaunting sleek new designs. Warren’s parents, longtime Tallahassee residents Arnett and Pamela Moore, put her in touch with Marsha Doll, who runs Tallahassee-based model talent agency Marsha Doll Models. “I developed the talent, it was kind of natural for me,” Warren said. “I was brought up in a performance-driven household; my mom was a singer and my dad was a musician.”
Warren’s talent soared and her career gained momentum. In September during NYC Fashion Week, Warren, 29, could be seen walking the runway for fashion production company FTL Moda’s show at Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal. The campaign was a product of FTL Moda’s partnership with Global Disability Inclusion. Global Disability Inclusion’s main objective is to increase the presence of people with disabilities in the workforce. The fashion show was focused on encouraging more companies to use disabled people in marketing campaigns. For all of Warren’s public success, she was fighting private personal battles. She was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder that affects the way oxygen is transported by red blood cells, at the age of 2. “My parents kind of figured something was wrong,” Warren said, “I was a really whiny baby.”remy hair extensions During a sickle cell crisis, the affected person feels intense pain caused by blood cells “clumping together” and clotting. A crisis can cause severe emotional distress and, in extreme cases, lead to a heart attack or stroke. “It’s very random when a crisis comes on, but most sickle cell patients will tell you they can see the signs of when a crisis is coming on.”
At age 11, right before she entered middle school, Warren’s hair began falling out. Her mother acted quickly and took her to a dermatologist, who could not diagnose her illness. A visit to Shands Hospital in Gainesville revealed that Warren had alopecia areata, a rare autoimmune skin disease that causes significant hair loss. In Warren’s case, it caused her to go completely bald. “It was very difficult for a little girl growing up, going to middle school. It was a very challenging time," she said. “I had to deal with the negative comments and the bullying and things like that, just overall not being accepted.” Warren’s mother helped her decide to look for a wig to wear, covering her new baldness.perruques cheveux naturels “My mom was very helpful, in helping me understand who I was, and that things happen to people so that they can inspire others.” Warren said that her mother came up with a tactic to force Mikaya to change her perspective.
“For a period of a year, my mom would make me look at myself in a mirror and tell myself I was beautiful, over and over again,” she recalled. The method didn't immediately catch on. “I used to feel like she was patronizing me. I thought ‘mom, I’m not beautiful. I’m a 13-year-old with no hair,’” Warren said. “I didn’t realize it was a self-proclamation that she was making me speak to myself. “I can only imagine what young women would go through if they didn’t have the support I had from my mom.”perruques cheveux It wasn’t until 2008, when Warren auditioned for America’s Next Top Model in Tallahassee, that she made the leap of faith to lose the wig and show off her natural look. The result stunned some people, including the photographer who took her headshots. One glimpse of Warren without her wig, and he knew she would take the fashion world by storm. “After I heard back from him, it kind of gave me a boost of confidence. That experience gave me the confidence to be myself and roll with how I look,” Warren said. She was quick to point out, however, that the modeling world has not always been inclusive.
“To be honest, it’s really just now becoming OK to look exotic or different,” Warren said of the fashion world. And she’s proud to be at the forefront of that movement. “I was told by several people that I could never make it in the modeling industry without hair,” she said. She didn’t listen. “After I stopped wearing wigs, I was approached by so many girls and women, which is what inspired me to start my organization.” Warren’s success in modeling proved to be the perfect platform for empowering those who have faced similar difficulties.lace front wigs Warren’s nonprofit organization, My B.A.L.D. Is Beautiful, Inc., uses the slogan “redefining bald and beautiful.” Founded in 2012, My B.A.L.D. Is Beautiful offers encouragement to women who experience hair loss through support groups, as well as helping young women refine their image with makeovers. Warren also runs Mikaya Dionne Enterprises, her own boutique consulting firm, which offers image consulting, makeup artistry and model coaching. When she’s not modeling, Warren can usually be found spending time with her family. While that may sound like the norm for a married 29-year-old, for Warren, it’s a miracle. Mikaya Warren with her husband and their four children. (Photo: Special to the Democrat)
Warren was told by doctors for most of her life that she would never be able to have children because of her health. “When you spend so much time in the doctor’s office, you can get discouraged from accomplishing goals,” Warren said. “I know firsthand how hard it is, I was told I’d never be able to have kids and now I have four. “I chose not to believe that, because that was one of my goals in life, to be a mother.”cosplay wigs For more information on supporting Warren and her upcoming events: Beauty & Confidence Workshop for Women teaching confidence building and a live makeup demonstration on Friday, Oct. 30 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Oasis Center for Women & Girls Tallahassee. To register visit www.MikayaDionne.com. My B.A.L.D. Is Beautiful, Inc. hosts its quarterly Support Group Meeting for women and girls with hair loss on Saturday, Oct. 31 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. To RSVP visit www.MBIBInc.com.