In an hour it will be time to take my three year old to a new session of her kiddie music class, and even as I pretend it isn't a big deal, I am stressed about what to put on my head. We last went to these classes 4 or 5 months ago, and then I wore my wig. Indeed the music class, a gathering of mostly mommies and their toddlers, was my personal testing grounds for a wig as part of my identity. It was not, however, an ideal environment for wig wearing. Dancing around with a two year old's fingers wrapped in my "hair" was not a secure feeling, and I always wondered if anyone guessed the truth or wondered if I was sick. In most of my interactions with people I see regularly, I am upfront about my hair loss so that I don't have to think about it. In the music class experiment, I just wore a wig as if it was my normal hair, as so many people do every day, but it didn't feel like a grand success, and usually I pulled the wig off as soon as I got back to the car.

What do I do today? I rarely wear a wig these days, and a simple scarf would be my "normal" discreet indoor attire, but if I don't wear a wig today, the option of just being normal is passed up. If I am concerned about people detecting my wig, going from no hair to full hair would seem a bit of a giveaway. Do I want to sit in the smiling circle with my daughter on my lap singing the hello song and feeling self conscious because I'm wearing a scarf and am not like everyone else there? If I do wear a wig, will I feel trapped, like I have to keep it up, week after week? The thought comes to me, as I write, that going from wig to no wig would be a workable transition, more so than the other way around. Then there are the thoughts of pulling up to the curb, flipping down the vanity mirror, and glancing up and down the street before pulling off my cap and pulling on my wig, and how I try to flatten it with my fingers and am both delighted by the instant transformation and dissatisfied with the details of the look.

If I wore a wig, I could run my errands afterwards still in the persona of she who has hair. I could be pretty. Dang. My daughter will think I look funny with the wig on. She has no qualms about rubbing the stubble on my head. To her, my baldness is normal. And in the time I spend worrying about what to do with my lack of hair, I will have neglected her wild blonde curls, and she will show up in her customary unbrushed state, having to push her hair out of her face, and still, no doubt, with traces of yesterday's red paint at the ends of some of the strands.

I think it is great to be flexible with how one deals with alopecia, and to suit the head covering (or absence thereof) to the occasion, but using that flexibility comes with the cost of uncertainty and of having to reset one's identity for every new situation. I feel like I am still new to this. It was just about a year ago that I got my first wig. If I am still mostly bald in five years, will I have a more secure sense of how I present myself to the world with or without hair?

Yes, I will try the wig. I put on a nice shirt, an interesting necklace, the wig. I look at myself in the full length mirror. I look slender and put together. My hair is thick and a warm light brown. Is it a bit too long and healthy looking for my face? Does my face look older because of the contrast with the hair? Overall it is a look that I could feel confident with. But it doesn't look like me. Sigh. I liked the look better without the hair, but I don't expect the world would. I see a confidence in baldness. I see eyes and cheekbones, and an inner person who doesn't have to hide behind fake hair. If only I could believe that others would see it too, and in wanting others to see what I see, I give away my confidence.

Views: 103

Comment by Rose Marie' on September 29, 2014 at 6:07pm

Reading through your blog it seems to me that you are nutting this out well for yourself.  

Wearing a wig or not wearing a wig is not who or what you are.  I think you fully get that but are just concerned about what and how to handle this.  

You have hairloss (Alopecia) and no matter what choice you make on how to present yourself the choice of having alopecia is not yours to make. Therefor there is always going to be ramifications around handling your alopecia with the general public and I think that is where you are having issues.  What do you want to do about that??? 

Wig...gives you a little time to work out how you may like to talk to those around you with regards to your alopecia.  Sometimes you won't have to as no one will notice...other times people may ask about your hair and I think it is sensible to have an answer that you feel comfortable with. 

With a scarf or nothing...it's out there, people will ask what is going on. Mostly this will be done with kindness, sometimes through absolute curiosity.  You need to work out how you may like to handle that scenario.

If this is a secret that you are struggling with.  Try and work that through from the viewpoint of what you would advise someone you love to do.  I know that you would be kind, supportive and caring...so be that way with yourself. 

Fake Hair (as you put it) is really just hair, just a tool that you can use or not use to manage your alopecia.  It doesn't take away your alopecia or the ramifications of having alopecia.

Hope this helps.

Rosy

Comment by OneBaldMother on September 29, 2014 at 11:43pm

Garden Jess,

Thank you for this blog.  We are in such similar situations it is almost eerie!  Replace "music class" with "library story time" and your story is the same as mine.  3 year old daughter rubbing my stubbly bald head, taking the wig off in the car, wearing wigs for about a year, seeing beauty in baldness but suspecting the rest of the world won't, and the constant what-to-wear-on-my-head dilemma....I know all of these well.  I too think about where I will be 5 years from now.  I cannot imagine being in wigs that long.  I have been feeling increasingly "trapped" in my wig but not sure how to transition.  I wear a scarf most places now but for those places where some acquaintances have only known me in my wig (and they have never mentioned it, so I assume they think it is my natural hair) I am nervous about just showing up in a scarf.  I feel like I need to explain the scarf or else it is the elephant in the room.   I don't know how to just bring it up though.  "Oh by the way don't worry about my baldness...its just alopecia" The conversation doesn't flow naturally that way, so it would just make things more awkward, or make a big deal out of nothing.

It is nice to read about someone else who is in such a similar place as me.  I hope that I will soon have confidence and happiness in my alopecia and I hope the same for you.

Comment by Tallgirl on September 30, 2014 at 11:24am

I have worn wigs for 27/62 years, in various towns and for various audiences, in various style/cuts/colors/lengths. I just own it, and try to wear the same wig with the same people, so no one  comments. Generally, no one even knows. I do not live where people ever knew me with my natural hair, so there are no comparisons. At church, however, I have shown up in all the different wigs over 10 years: the women know, are kind, and have most likely told their spouses about the alopecia (I have gone bald at some women's group events). The synthetic hair is now ALSO "me." Let out the actress in you. Most of them have wigs, you know...especially J-Lo!

Comment by GardenJess on September 30, 2014 at 1:37pm

OneBaldMother--it does sound like we are living very similar hair stories. Thank you for helping me feel more normal, whatever that means. :)  I am right there with you with how to clear the air and announce the alopecia without actually announcing the alopecia and making an issue out of it if it doesn't have to be. I was at a meeting with a bunch of my daughter's preschool parents, some of whom knew about my hair and some of whom didn't. I just blurted out "as a matter of trivia" that they might see me in a scarf or hat and that I had alopecia, which meant that I was perfectly healthy but didn't have hair. I was glad I did that, but at the same time in other situations it seems like it could fall into the category about talking about ones latest gallbladder surgery.

Rose Marie--Your comments are vey insightful, that the reality of having alopecia goes beyond just dealing with the symptom (lack of hair). From the outset I haven't made a secret of my hair loss, and am really only uncomfortable if I imagine people might be wondering behind my back. I want my kids to know it is nothing I am ashamed of (and I can't put out of my mind the fact that I could someday be a role model to my own child dealing with hair loss--not yet though, thank goodness)

Tallgirl--You are an inspiration. I do wonder if I keep up with this baldness business whether I will start to "own" my wig wearing in a more obvious way.

On the other hand, I walk out of volunteering at the elementary school and have this urge to rip the wig off my head just because, well, it would be funny, and if I can't be a little crazy about hair loss, it will make me more crazy. But I haven't yet, because I am a well behaved grown up. At least some of the time.

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