2015 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival - Day 2"Nashville" fans were shocked when star Clare Bowen debuted a new pixie cut on Wednesday night's episode, shedding the waist-long locks that her character, Scarlett, had sported since season one. But according to Bowen, there was a significant reason behind the change that was inspired more by real life than by onscreen drama.

In a heartfelt Facebook post, Bowen revealed that she was diagnosed with end-stage nephroblastoma, a form of kidney cancer, when she was four years old. The actress said she spent years in and out of hospitals and formed close bonds with other cancer-stricken children like herself, some missing limbs, others missing key internal organs, but all judgement-free when it came to others' appearances.

It was in this spirit that Bowen decided to chop off her own locks, she said, inspired in part by the heartbreaking story of a little 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," the actress wrote. "It's not what makes you beautiful either. It's your insides that count... even if you happen to be missing half of them."

Ultimately, Bowen hopes her transformation will inspire others to place less importance on appearances, and have the confidence to be themselves, in whatever form that may take.

"If it makes even one person think twice about judging another, then in some small way, the world is better," she wrote. "Self-esteem takes a lot longer to grow back than hair."

Read the entire, inspiring post below.

Wanna know why I cut it all off?When I was four years old, I asked my mother; "Are there heaters in Heaven?" I had...

Posted by Clare Bowen on Wednesday, November 11, 2015

[via: Clare Bowen]

Photo credit: Getty Images for Stagecoach