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At age 18, she was finally free. But not for the reasons you'd think.

This woman with alopecia strips on camera, but it's her story that's truly revealing.

At age 18, she was finally free. But not for the reasons you'd think.

This is fashion designer and Honor NYC co-founder Rachel Fleit.

As part of its "What's Underneath Project," StyleLikeU asked Rachel to share her story of what it was like growing up with alopecia — while simultaneously stripping off layers of clothing.


Rachel addresses the assumptions strangers often make about her, including that she's bald as the result of cancer or that she's chosen to shave her head.

For Rachel, wearing a wig prevented her from truly being herself. She lamented the fact that she didn't have hair, and she beat herself up over this in spite of it being entirely beyond her control.

After confiding in a few friends when she was 16, Rachel finally took the leap, ditching her wig at age 18. It was this act that allowed her to fully accept the person she was.

Rachel's story of self-discovery and self-love is emblematic of the fight so very many of us struggle with throughout our lives.

For Rachel, it was her wig that kept her from accepting herself. For others, maybe it's a personality quirk, height, weight, gender, or skill that holds us back. The first step to self-acceptance is identifying what factors hold us back. It's only after we do this that we're able to thrive as individuals.

Rachel's story is unique, but her goal was not. The most human thing any of us can do is to simply be ourselves.

Watch Rachel's story below:

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.