And I didn't spill my whole sordid hair story to the person.
This is a real moment for me, because I tend to overshare, more so than keep people guessing. Whenever their eyes linger on my head for longer than necessary, whenever they comment on my hair, whenever they tell me I look nice, I instantly blurt out all the facts like this:
Translation: "I have hair loss and wear wigs. And the only consolation to having sh*tty hair is that I can wear any wig I want, on any given day, and change my look in an instant. I know this must annoy you, and society in general, so I apologize for the way my hair loss, and my wig wearing makes you feel. Please still be my friend, and for the love of heaven, don't talk trash behind my back."
Yup. My overshare was actually a cover-up for a plea for people to treat me normally, despite my wearing alternative hair. Which, if you think about it, shouldn't be a problem. Treating someone differently because they're wearing a wig is just plain stupid. Alas, people do it inadvertently all the time, and instead of accepting that, and moving on.......I would apply the same tactic that I used to use when I was overweight.
I bring up the subject before anybody else can.
When I was fat, I made fat jokes and brought up my weight in social situations all the time. It was annoying. But I never realized how annoying it was until I'd lost weight. Then I realized I had nothing to lead with in my conversations. I couldn't break the ice by making a crack about being the "fat girl."
Enter one order of Alopecia. Thanks, God.
And now I lead with that.
"Oh, I love your haircut!"
Normal person: "Thank you."
Me: "Ohmigosh, thank you so much! Did you know it's a wig!? Yeah, you could have hair like this, too. I've got hair loss, so I look like Elmer Fudd underneath this fur cap. Hahahah. Yup. I wear wigs. So don't freak out if I'm a blonde by next week! No, I'm not sick. I'm healthy as a horse! Just have crappy hair follicles! Hahahahaha."
(You can see the difference.)
But recently, I've had an epiphany.
I decided to stop apologizing for my hair loss and wig wearing. I've decided to stop offering explanations that 1.) nobody is asking for; and 2.) nobody deserves. Because, if my hair loss causes someone else discomfort, it's a reflection of them, not me. This was not an easy concept for me to grasp. In fact, it's downright agonizing. In a world where women work their butts off every single day to HIDE the fact that they have Alopecia, I have been offering up the information like a Hostess at Denny's telling people the soup of the freaking day!
|This is what I am doing in my head, though....|
The thing is...I'm not blind.
I see their strange looks when my hair grows a foot between Monday and Tuesday.
I see their glances at my hairline to see if it looks "wiggy" or natural.
I see their unsolicited comments bubbling in the back of their mouths.
I see them pointedly not looking at my head.
And more so than anything else, I can feel their curiosity.
But after 40 years of being so d*mned transparent, I have decided to stop the overshare. Granted, I haven't transformed my life in all aspects. I spent much of my 40th birthday the other day, elbow deep in a container of creamy goat cheese, mourning the loss of half my life and all the things I haven't yet achieved. So....bear in mind, I'm a work in progress. This first step, the transparency thing (in reference to wigs and hair loss) is a big one for me. GO ME.
I decided a while ago that I no longer owe anybody an explanation. I don't have to tell someone I have Alopecia. I don't have to "legitimize" my wig wearing. I don't have to share with people why I do what I do. My medical issue is not other people's business. My "fake" hair, hair color choice, hair style, and hair length is not anybody's business. If I go from an icy blonde pixie cut, to long, black Russian assassin hair within the space of 24 hours, I owe not one explanation.
This is how I feel about the topic now:
But seriously. I'm over it.
My husband loves me. My children love me. They love me with a wig. They love me without a wig. They love me with a cap or a scarf on. They love me with my shaved head covered in scabby bald patches exposed. They love me in a box. They love me with a fox. They love me.
And even better yet...
I'm starting to love me.
Loving myself, however little for now, feels fantastic. When I look into the mirror and feel beautiful, I like myself. Sure, sure, sure...all the feminists of the world are cringing, and I'm here to say suck it. I want to feel beautiful when I look at myself. I want to like my reflection. I want to feel confident, secure, and attractive to my husband, to my kids, to the world, and most of all, to myself! I've blogged about it before, I'll say it again:
There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel beautiful.
It does not make you an anti-feminist. It does not mean you're not for self acceptance. Beauty is subjective. You have to find what it means for you, and own it. That's what I do when I wipe my tears away, cover up my scabby, patchy, gross head, and pull on a long, glamorous wig. I own my beauty. And that's okay.
So back to what happened today...
I volunteered at a triathlon at my children's school, and was put in charge of writing people's numbers on their arms and calves. While writing on one woman's arm, I commented that she was my son's science teacher, to which she responded, "Yes, I am. I wasn't sure if that was you, because you've dyed your hair since last time I saw you."
I stopped. Looked around to see if anybody else was listening. (They were. I could tell.) And then said, "Yes. Thanks. Keep an eye out, it'll probably change again."
And literally that's it.
After that, I just shut my mouth, and moved on.
This may seem like a very small and insignificant victory to some. But to me, the over-sharer, it was a colossal victory. On any other day, I would've told her, almost apologetically, that my hair had changed because I have hair loss, wear wigs, yadda yadda yadda.....but I didn't do that today. I thought to myself, "I owe this woman nothing." And I said thanks, made a small joke, and moved on.
It. Felt. AMAZING.
It was as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I know, I know, that sounds dramatic. But it's true. It was liberating to just keep my private information private for once. After a year of oversharing in this peculiar, pretentious little city we're living in, where I've felt so inclined to explain and apologize for myself a few thousand times over the last year...I was able to just let it go, and not feel the slightest bit of guilt for "not explaining myself."
I think in the future I'd like to just shave my response down to a quick "thank you," and omit the joke part. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love to make people laugh. It's kind of my thing. (I write romantic comedy, remember?) But occasionally it feels good to keep some of myself hidden. It's almost like I'm moving in reverse. So many Alopecians start their journey off hiding and trying to keep their hair loss a secret from the world...and I came out of the gates screaming. I told anyone who spoke to me. Wrote social media posts about it. Explained my hair issues to anyone whose eyes lingered on my hair for more than a second.......and I've been slowly working my a** off to get the giant snake back into the peanut brittle jar.
And I think I've finally succeeded. Or started too.
This summer while I am in the USA, I will be buying wigs for the year. (Since I prefer synthetics, and they don't have the shelf life--nor the price tag--of human hair wigs, AND I live abroad where getting my hands on great wigs is tricky, I gather them while in the states and divvy them out over the course of the 10.5 months we spend in South Korea every year.) I am getting several different wigs, in several different colors, and several different lengths/styles. And I fully intend to wear them whenever I want, without a second thought.
Sure, I'll get weird looks. And if history serves, I'll be gossiped about. But do I really care?
I don't care what unsolicited advice people offer me. I don't care what other people would do if it were them that were suffering through hair loss. I don't care that they're complimenting hair that's "not mine" (hint: if I pay for it, it's mine.) I don't care that so-and-so prefers red hair on me, but so-and-so thinks shorter is better. I don't care about the unintentionally embarrassing comments people make about growing their hair out to make a wig for me, or how they just want to rip it off of my head some day (spoiler alert: it won't come off that easily, and if you try it, I'll kick some serious butt,) or, even better, how nice it is that my husband can sleep with a different woman every night (Scientific fact: he sleeps with me every night. Wigs don't change my DNA. Science....who knew?) I will ignore the comments about how often I change my look, or how confusing it is to keep up with my wig changes. I'll ignore it when people with full heads of hair remind me that true beauty comes from within. I'll ignore it when the wealthy Korean moms (who are so gorgeous and stylish and thin) stare at me like I'm a circus side show act. I'll ignore it when kids ask my sons and daughter, "Why does your mom look different again?" I'll ignore it when it is insinuated that vanity is what makes me change my look all the time, or that I need to focus on what's important in life (hint: they're usually saying it's not hair.)
And I'll just do whatever I've got to do to feel like THIS when I look in the mirror:
Because finally feeling good about myself feels good. And I make NO MORE apologies for that.
Today was a milestone. I'm glad I'm evolving. Evolving feels good.