Thursday, September 3, 2015

Things people say to wig wearers.....

So here's my wig backstory:

In the space of a year, I lost a daughter and a hundred pounds, and consequently, lost large patches of my hair. At the time the hair loss was attributed to the change in my nutrition/protein intake, and the stress from the grief.

And then it grew back.

I still don't know why my hair fell out. I do not have any autoimmune disorders, I am not on chemotherapy, I am healthy, I take supplements, I eat healthily, I ride my bike every day, and I am now at a healthy weight that my body is pleased with. I have not lost my eyebrows, my underarm hair, my leg hair, or my (blush!) hair in my private area. I have, however, noticed a significant loss of eye lashes, and occasionally wear false eyelashes to supplement my own.

There is no explanation as to why my hair fell out.......or why started to fall out again this past summer. The safest bet is that this is the way my body is now reacting to stress. There are conflicting reports that say stress IS a contributor to hair loss, and others that say it's not. But I am a believer that it is--as I've experienced it twice now, and there are no concrete medical reasons for my loss--so far.

This is my hair loss the second round.....le sigh.

So, once again, I am wearing wigs. And plan to continue to do so for the next year to two years, so as to give my body (or more specifically, my follicles) a rest from the dyes, the tools, the products, the dirts and oils from my hands, and well, generally just anything that could potentially make it unhealthy. My hair is currently in rehab. Or as the Hollywood types put it, "away for rest & relaxation." a wig.

I don't know whether or not this hair loss issue is something I will deal with forever. My guess is yes, I will always struggle with thinning hair, visible scalp, or patchy loss. My grandmother had patchy hair loss, and occasionally wore hairpieces to cover the loss, and I have two brothers and a father with receding hairlines. Maybe, just maybe, this is hereditary? I've read, though there are conflicting reports, that once a woman deals with androgenetic alopecia, or female pattern baldness, it is a reoccurring thing. And this is episode #2 for me, so I'm assuming it will happen again someday. Not especially happy about that.

UPDATE: as it turns out, it looks like I've got alopecia areata. In dumbed-down-Brooke-terms, that means I lose my hair in patches. So far each of these patches grows back, but when one grows back, another appears, which is both frustrating and a relief...because now I can take a deep breath, accept my future, and move on. And well, if I'm being honest, wearing wigs means having fantastic hair every day. And who can complain about that? Am I right, or am I right??

But I'm not exceptionally mad, either. Because there are a million reasons for me to be grateful for my life and my health. In the grand scheme of things, I am a blessed woman. I have lovely, healthy children who love me, a good career (because of readers like YOU), and a husband who adores me. Really, I'm a lucky gal. a wig. With the nerd who loves me. Isn't he handsome?

However, the fact that my hair is a wimpy pile of wispy feathers that like to fall out of my head at their own whim..........not cool. Not cool at all.

But what are you gonna do?

I buy fabulous wigs and look fantastic while wearing them. My husband loves me as a blonde, so wigs afford me the length I've never been able to achieve, and the color that normally fries my locks to the brink of death.

Silver linings, people.

Want to know a not-so-silver lining?

The crap people unknowingly say to wig wearers.

*big eye roll*

Guys, I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've been accidentally insulted, made fun of, unknowingly backhanded with words, or flat out shamed.....all for wearing fake hair. It used to be funny. I used to crack up along with the friends who were laughing, and a little piece of my pride would die inside.....

Now I'm on wig experience #2, sort of p*ssed off that my hair thinned again, and frankly,  I'm fed up. As if it's not difficult enough to walk into a room of people wearing fake hair--hoping and praying that nobody knows, or that the people who know aren't laughing, or that my wig isn't crooked or messed up or too shiny....

Now I have to go back to the land of "you're a caucasian woman wearing a wig so it's socially acceptable to make fun of you right to your face."

I hate that land. As if there aren't enough reasons for a woman to feel self conscious in this day and age of fat shaming, skinny shaming, skin shaming, makeup shaming, body art shaming, tattoo shaming, and generally any other kind of shaming you've ever been subjected to, because we all k now we've been shamed for one thing or another, and you can believe 'dat.

Add to the possibility of some wig shaming, whether it be of the inadvertent or the blatant kind, and often times being in public is a full on sweat-fest for a woman like me.

Now.......some women like yours truly handles their wig wearing by being a blabber mouth. Usually I just flat out tell people that I have hair loss, and that I wear a wig. Not because I want to. But because rather than having them staring at my hair line with narrowed eyes, trying to figure it out in their own head, or worse yet, whispering about it behind my back with their follically blessed friends...I just take the bull by the horns and get the secret out in the open.

"Yeah, so, I lose my hair sometimes. I'm wearing a wig. But, I'm perfectly healthy, so don't worry. I'm fine. It's just that, yes, it's a wig. And yes, I know it's sitting on my head right now."

Translation: "Please for the love of all things holy, stop staring at my head like I've sprouted horns, and look me in the friggin' eye. I know it's different. And I know it's freaking blonde. And I know I'm not fooling anyone. I'm not that stupid. But just like you wear fake chicken cutlet thingies in your bra for bigger boobs, or wear a body shaper to cover up your C-section pooch, or put fake eyelashes on and slather them in Maybelline, I wear a dang wig. Get over it. Process it. Work through all of the emotions MY wig has caused you to have--because well all know you're having them right now, and can think of a thousand ways to tell me so--and come to terms. And dear lord, stop bloody staring at my damned head. It's not an aborted goat fetus. It's fake hair. Calm yourself."

(I've become so adept at saying that <first> mantra, that I could probably recite it in my sleep. The second one I keep to myself. Most of the time.)

Here are some of the not-so-subtle things people have said to me about my wigs:

"I have a friend who has cancer. She's in chemotherapy, and never wears a wig. She walks around with her bald head and shows it to the world. She's not ashamed, so neither should you, since you have it so much better. Imagine what you would feel like if you were her, and actually had cancer."

Oh holy crap.

Have I asked for prayers? Have I asked ya'll to donate to my oncology Go-Fund-Me page yet? Have I informed you all that I'm fighting the fight of my life? Have I written a long winded blog telling my husband and children how very much I'll miss them from the other side of the vail? Have the words breast, pancreatic, thyroid, melanoma, or tumor shown up in my recent blog posts?

No? Then stop comparing me to your amazing Wonder Woman of a friend. I GET IT. She is amazing. I'm selfish and narcissistic. She is embracing her baldness and inner beauty. I am a whiny Barbie who wants good hair. She beats me. I suck. She wins the sympathy competition. I lose.

There. It's out there. Now hand me my fake hair and shut up.

I'm not comparing myself to a woman fighting cancer. Or lupus. Or Alopecia Totalis. Or generally any medical struggle that causes hair loss.  I'm not even asking for sympathy. Feel sorry for someone who is really suffering. The only time I suffer is when my church doesn't have its air conditioning on, and the heat from wearing a FUR HAT all day makes my vision spotty and a migraine sprout. Other than that, Wonder Woman with cancer gets my kudos all day long. Go her.

Me? I just want decent hair. Freaking sue me.

"Your short hair is fine. I wear my hair short. I don't know why you can't just love the hair you have. I think you look better without it."

Do me a favor. Get naked and stand in front of the mirror, then tell me that you love every single inch of your body, toenails to the split ends on the hair of your head. If you can honestly say that you love your entire physical body without wanting one single detailed to be changed, then I concur.

But if you can't say that, then you need to get off of my back. First, if you wear your hair short, then go you. I love short hair, too (as proven by the pictures above)....I just don't love being able to see my scalp through it. Plus, I love having longer hair--something that doesn't happen easily with my biological hair. I'm not sure why my wearing a wig is so offensive to wearers of short hair. It's not like I'm participating in "anti-short-hair-on-women" rallies. Good grief.

And as far as you liking me without it? Good for you. You win the prize for being the best friend I've ever had. All my other friends may as well turn in their badges and go home for the day, because you're the best. That's what you're looking for, right?

No? You're just trying to be supportive, you say?

Then shut up and tell me I look pretty. If I feel like crap about my hair, then I feel weak and ugly and bad about myself. It doesn't matter how much you think that's silly. It's ME feeling it, not YOU. You can't change my perspective, my perspective can only be changed by  me, and I want to feel better about my freaking hair. If I have a wig on my head, I feel better. And prepared to take on the world. Stop trying to Oprah Winfrey the **** out of the situation. I don't need an inspirational moment. I need you to stop minimizing my need to wear a wig.

"It's really hot out here! <insert loud laugh and exuberant ripping gesture> I'm just waiting for the day you rip it off, and say screw it all."

Yeah. Because that's what a lady does when she gets hot. She rips things off of her body to cool down quickly.


No. I'm not going to rip off my wig because I'm too hot. Let's put this into perspective: if your nipples got exceptionally hot and sweaty during an exercise class one day, does that mean you'll pull your shirt off and let your bubbies swing in the breeze? What about if your vagina was really overheated? Would you strip off your pants and start doing lunges to get some air flow?

Like this..but with no pants on.
"Yikes! My vagina is so toasty! Better get some air."

Of course not. Because you are (I hope) a lady, and some things are meant for private. If I am wearing a wig, it is because I am not comfortable with people seeing what's underneath it. If I were, I wouldn't be wearing a wig. Duh.

Now, it bears mentioning that this, or something similar, has been said to me many times, but never to hurt my feelings. People are usually trying to sympathize with me because of said temperatures. However, what people so quickly forget is that most wigs aren't put on purely for fashion purposes, and they can't just be ripped off willy-nilly style. Wigs are carefully placed on a wearers head and attached with glues, adhesives, clips, pins, bands, etc. If the wig comes off, it's utter and total public humiliation time.

In other words: it ain't no joke. Insinuating that one can tear it off simply because they're overheated and shake out their natural hair like they do in the spy movies with the hot female assailants is extremely cliche and uneducated. 99.9% of the wig wearers out there do NOT look like this when the take off a wig:

We usually look like this:

Only add in some visible scalp, sweat, adhesive, and some sores on the spots where the wig rubs.
Not exactly a RuPaul Drag Race moment, is it friends?
Let's just go back to talking about airing out our nipples and vaginas.

Here's a fun one:

*after sending a picture of some costume wigs in a second hand store* "Do you have any of these wigs? They look like your style! LOL, j/k! Love ya!"

*blink blink* I.......uh.......really? I wear these because the pasty white skin of my unevenly shaped scalp shows through what I very un-lovingly refer to as my "Muppet hair".

Let's make one thing clear, though this was only meant as a joke, I took this one hard. I shouldn't have. I should've been infinitely more mature and let it roll off my back. However....I am a big, dumb, giant child, who took it poorly.

For the record, I don't wear wigs to look like this:

This is not a joke. To me. This is not dress up. To me.

I actually wear them to look like this:

P.S. Big shout out to Heather at whose reviews helped me pick the gorgeous Kristen wig I'm sporting here. Booyah.

Got it?

I am not a joke. I am not a punch line. I am not an idiot. When a crack like this is made, it insinuates that I look like a fool in my wigs. And I do not want to look like a fool. Looking like a fool is my worst nightmare--again, we come back to the narcissism from before--and jokes made at my expense, especially centered around the wig, make me feel like a fool.

I do not like to feel like a fool. I mean, honestly, I make jokes at my own expense all the time. But when jokes are made at my expense, it makes me feel all twitchy and uncomfortable. I hate it. I try to be mature and just get over it. Have a giggle and move on......

But it hurts my feelings.

"What are you doing wearing a wig? You're white."


This was said to me by a caucasian friend, and honestly, I wasn't sure what to say. I was dumbfounded. Are there really people this stupid out there?

First, I am well aware that I am white. I've been white for almost 40 years now, so I'm assuming it's permanent. I've come to terms with it. Second, why are wigs only for African American women? Why does a person's ethnicity have something to do with their use of wigs, anyway? Why is there a stigma connected to wigs? Why is it a source of ethnic division? Good grief, isn't there enough dividing all of us these days, now we need to create a racial divide over fake hair?

Sounds like a pile of bunk to me.

Live and let live, people. It's not hard. If I have to do it, so do you.

"I totally understand what it's like to have hair problems. The hair on this side of my head grows faster than the top of my head, so I absolutely have to wear it short."

Wait. Did you just compare your hair growth to my hair loss? Really?

*big guttural sigh*

Actually that's an amalgam of about 50 different times friends have pointed out their own hair growth issues (cowlicks, premature grey, an uneven haircut, color that didn't turn out right, etc.) as some way to commiserate with me. Which for the record...comes off as condescending more so than sympathetic. Not their fault, really. But alas....

Okay, well, let's explore this. So when hair falls out of my head, covering the bottom of my bathtub, and clogging my drains, leaving patches of my white scalp visible through my hair, or occasionally two and three inch bald spots on the top of my head completely uncovered.....

That's the same as your hair growing at different paces on your head? Did you hear what you just said? GROWING? Dude. Your hair is still growing. Your scalp isn't visible. Your hair isn't unhealthy and jumping ship. It's still growing on your head, whether or not it's growing evenly is another argument, but your scalp isn't visible, and your hair is still somewhat healthy and happy.

Why oh why oh why oh why is this remotely similar to my issue?

I'm not a fan of sympathy. In fact, it makes me crazy uncomfortable, and I hate it. Like I said, I've got a million reasons to be happy and grateful. But sympathy given to the wrong thing in the wrong way is so much worse. Just........don't. Please save the sympathy. And don't compare the need for a specific haircut to my need for alternative hair. This is comparing apples to oranges.

"OMG, I love your wigs. Can I try one on?? No, really. Can I try one on?"

So here's the deal: if someone asked to borrow your underpants, would you let them? What about your bra? What if someone asked you if they could borrow your diaphragm? Or the pretty nightie that you put on to impress your husband? Would you just hand them over and share?

A woman's wig is one of the most personal items she owns. It's up there with bras, panties, negligees,, breast pumps, and diaphragms. It's what she wears to make herself feel pretty and normal and human. She wears the wig to make herself presentable to the world. To make herself feel good. To make herself feel normal. It's personal. Asking someone to try on their wig is rude.

I know, I know, nobody ever means to be rude. But still. It's rude. I won't borrow your panties, and you won't borrow my wigs. We all win!

*** As a side note, one time, pretty early into my first foray into my wig wearing adventures, I gave one of my wigs to a friend who said she wanted to start wearing wigs, as she wasn't pleased with the state of her hair. I gave her one that I never wore (it was curly, and it had too much volume for me, but I'd paid a fair amount of money for it, so I considered it a decent gift.) but the next day when I went by her house, her teenage son wore it outside as a joke, and the whole family was standing around cracking up, watching for my reaction.

I laughed (what else could I do?) and then left and had a good cry. First, the wig was expensive and I felt like I'd just thrown money away on something that had already been turned into a halloween costume. Second, I wore alternative hair because I had to. When I gave that to my friend, I'd done it to boost her self esteem and to make her feel as good and confident as I felt. And by having it turned into a joke, it made my effort, and my own wig wearing, seem foolish and dumb looking.

I'm sure that wasn't what they were going for....they're good people. But it hurt me. And I decided right then and there that I would NEVER give away or loan out another one of my wigs to someone who didn't truly understand or respect the importance of alternative hair. I would never let my friends try on my wigs as some sort of silly, wine-soaked, musical montage "girls night" game. I never want something so personal and important to me become a joke or a "costume" again.

In other words, I became bitter.

Just kidding.

So that's my list of odd insults that people say to wearers of wigs. Believe me, most wig wearers know that people don't mean to insult them. Most of us just laugh off the rude remarks, and go on with life. Maybe it's just that I've had a weird few days with an exceptional amount of backhanded remarks made at my expense, so I felt like blowing off steam via the world wide web.

The truth is, my friends and family love me. And they accept me the way I am, wigs and all. It would just be nice for my wigs to no longer be the butt of any jokes. I'm not a joke. My hair loss isn't a joke. My wig use isn't a joke. I am just a normal woman doing what she needs to do to feel safe, pretty, and ready to take on the world. I don't expect everyone to understand it.....but acceptance would be lovely.

Enough for today.