I Just Can't Bare It (Unless I Choose To, That Is ;-)

For the past year or so I have not worn a wig. Instead I have mainly chosen to wear head scarves in public . . . and in the past I have also gone completely bald. Over the years I have gone through a continuous inner struggle with this issue, whether to just go bald, where a wig or a head-covering . . . and I wonder how many others face this same issue and/or feel similarly about it. Sometimes I enjoy wearing a wig, playing with different looks can be fun and there are times . . . especially when doing something formal that it feels good to have "hair". However, on some level I also find that, for myself, wearing a wig is pretty stressful. I expend precious energy wondering how it looks to others and whether people can tell that it's a wig.
Then there's also the issue of feeling somehow "false" in a wig. This feeling of being "false" is one of the most fascinating aspects of the experience to me actually, because I know it is entirely my own perception that creates this feeling. Other people who don't know me and never get to know me well, don't know the difference anyway. Those who do know me, know that I am the same person with or without a wig on. So, why the sense of deception? I think there are many reasons, and I'm not sure I have a handle on all of them yet. One is that people make a lot of judgments about others based on their appearances. People interact differently with me for instance depending on whether I am wearing a short, brunette wig or a long-ish blonde wig. In some way, when I am meeting new people in a wig, I always feel like the wig somehow "colors" my interaction with the other person.
On the other hand, when I have gone completely bald I have encountered an entire spectrum of responses from people, ranging from sympathy by those who assume I am fighting cancer, to embarrassment on the part of others, to rudeness and downright hostile energy. So, in that sense, not wearing a wig certainly does not spare me from the mis-perceptions or judgment of others.
I find being a bald woman in an appearance oriented, materialistic culture a really interesting study in human behavior . . . my own and other people's. I no longer struggle internally over my hair loss and have come to accept it. Personally, I think my bald head is rather beautiful. If I lived in a cabin in the woods with people close to me I'd go bald all the time. So, why the choice to cover up? I think it's a complex matter . . . for one thing, I am a very sensitive and intuitive person. I can feel other people's energies and sense judgment a mile away. Although I know I don't need to take any of that on, it can get pretty exhausting being bombarded all the time by the curious, misguidedly sympathetic and/or aggressive glances, stares, words etc. Being an openly bald woman is sort of like wearing a target around, you draw attention to you whether you want it or not.
I think that within our culture there is also a fear of bald women, that women who do not allow themselves to be constrained by society's measure of beauty are a threat to the status quo. I think that women who intentionally shave their heads without having any type of an alopecia issue are making a very powerful and intentional statement about these misogynistic beauty standards, (more power to them) and I'm also aware that sometimes others interpret my baldness within this context, assuming that I am trying to make a statement by being bald. Perhaps in some sense I am, but truthfully any statement I make with my appearance is more like a "by-product" of my awareness which has grown directly out of my experiences with alopecia.

Views: 46

Comment by Ted Michael Morgan on August 27, 2009 at 4:52pm
Intriguing post. Thank you.
Comment by Casee on August 27, 2009 at 4:53pm
it totally stinks....I would love to have my hair back...I've been losing it since May...it was down to my butt, and I dont want to walk around bald...and definately don't want to wear a scarf or hat....but yes wigs feel fake...sooooo frustrating....
Comment by Laura on August 27, 2009 at 6:12pm
youre post is great :) I too sometimes would rather go around baid. I have a real human hair wig and as natural as it looks i still think that everytime I wear it if people are going to notice.
Comment by Jeff W on August 27, 2009 at 8:31pm
I understand how wearing a wig would give you a "false" feeling but I don't know why. Unless you're a nudist you're covering up all sorts of body parts most of the time and think nothing of it, so why not the top of your head? As a man I always thought it would be even less socially acceptable to wear a wig but I still haven't figured out why that is. I guess in the end whether it's our head or our tush we all need to wear things that just make us feel comfortable in whatever environment we're going to be in.
Comment by Tuesday on August 27, 2009 at 10:28pm
Your post completely completely sums up my own feelings and experiences - thanks for clarifying and sharing your thoughts!
Comment by Kimberly Rolon on August 28, 2009 at 4:04am
Wow! Yesterday as I went out with my wig I thought about some of the things you posted. Thanks for sharing!
Comment by Kris Fenchel on August 28, 2009 at 7:23am
Sarah that post was awesome!! I have worn wigs before but I could never get over the feeling of it being "fake" and therefore I stopped wearing them. I have gone out uncovered too, however now I choose to cover with scarves and hats. I have said that having alopecia has shown me the best and the worst in people that I would never have noticed if I "fit in". I also totally relate to your comment about being able to hone in on negative vibes from others. I have so many experiences of being out with friends and being able to see stares from across a crowed bar, or hear comments from the other side of the room, or feel the ridicule before anyone else even knew what was going on. In my younger days I would walk around with a chip on my shoulder, I was ready to react instantly to these negative reactions to me (one time I gave a guy in a bar a head butt for calling me a lesbian, not that there is anything wrong with being a lesbian, but when you are not it is very hurtful, not to mention the influence of beer;) On the other hand I was also always so amazed when people readily accepted me with out question. I found the most acceptance in a lot of sub-culture groups like punks and skaters. I used to joke that when I was single the only guys that were interested in me were either punk rockers or SciFi geeks (my husband is a little of both;) Any way I have grown to accept who I am and how people perceive me, I have decided that you either like me or you don't.
Comment by Joshua on August 28, 2009 at 1:01pm
Hi Sarah,

Thank you for sharing your wonderful post. I enjoyed reading it, very insightful and genuine expression. I do not in anyway believe that wearing a wig is to "deceive" or being "fake" to others that one is bald. If wearing a wig is a "deception", then cosmetic surgeries are far more "deceptive". However, I do able to imagine the feeling about being "false". This is the very reason why, being bald in the public is very liberating but as you said exposed to "attention". On most of the time, I used my "bald head attention" to my advantage rather than disadvantage, nevertheless we will be "target" of some insensitive and insecure people about our baldness. I believed in the individual rights of each person to cope with the own alopecia as long as they are not hurthing themselves or others. The choice of wearing a wig or not wearing should ultimately be our own choice and we need not to justify it to anyone eventhough there will be implications. In short, all of us will not let alopecia drag us in life while we live our lives to the fullest and be a testimony to all that with or without hair, we're happy and successful, no-lesser than any other peple with hair.

Thanks for sharing your post again. God bless.
jt
Comment by Sarah Parks-Pittman on August 28, 2009 at 8:29pm
Thanks everyone for all of your feedback. What a great community!
Comment by vicky on August 24, 2010 at 3:29am
I go bald most of the time. Here in Greece due to the high temperature, it is almost impossible to wear a wig during the summer. I get it all the time, the "lesbian" comments, the "tough" girl comments, the "freak" comments, and all kind of comments.

Last week I was in the toilet and a young boy come in with his mother.
I was fixing my make up in the mirror and the boy pointed at me and loudly said " Mum, look at the bald woman? The mother applied "She is not bald, she shaved them like the singer Sinead O'Connor ", then the boy said " It is impossible for her to sing if she is bald"

I just couldn't keep my laugh. The boy assumed that no hair equals no singing ability.... :-)

I was always confident with my self and when i lost my hair i was mostly worrying about loosing this confidence that i had since I was a very young girl. I was afraid of becoming "complex".

When I walk around bald, people assume that i shaved them on purpose due to my “relax” behaviour. I realised that it is impossible to stop people think what they think, say what they want, etc.

It is possible though to ignore those negative looks, words, etc. It is our own filters that we should work on. Don't let ignorant and cruel people influent you. Be proud of who u r as a person and not as a person with or whithout hair. That's my philosophy.

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