The biggest turning point in Northampton High School junior Nell Sanders life was 2015, when she took off her wig and showed the world her true self.
During elementary school Sanders was heavily bullied. Sanders said classmates “would chase me down, rip my hat off, and run away.” As a result, Nell became a mediator during lunch. She made peace between kids who were fighting. Sanders said she did this so that she could learn how to handle bullies herself and not be targeted at the same time. “I don’t stand for bullying because I know what being the victim feels like,” said Sanders. In the end, her being bullied became a learning experience.
Sanders’s greatest learning experience, however, has been living with alopecia. Alopecia is the partial or complete absence of hair from areas of the body where it normally grows. Ironically, people asked more about her alopecia when she was wearing the wig than when she took it off. Other times, people asked Sanders if the lack of hair is from cancer. Sanders channeled her struggles into a good thing by going to Brooklyn and participating in a photoshoot campaigning for alopecia awareness.
Music also helps Sanders get her thoughts and feelings out in a positive way. At an early age she began writing music, which turned into rap in middle school. Sanders said that slam poetry is a combination of those. For her slam poetry is so powerful and expressive especially because it “pushes messages,” she said. Sanders has a message to share, and others have payed attention to her talent. At NHS, she was the third place winner of last year’s Poetry Slam. Sanders later slammed the same poem on Valley Free radio station a few months after.
Sanders said she feels “empowered” from the opportunities she’s had to express herself. 2015 has been a landmark for Sanders. ”I feel more beautiful than I’ve ever been,” she said.