I didn’t think I would need to wear wigs until I was at least 30. My hair was getting thinner each and every year, but it was at a steady, gradual pace. I figured I’d at least have a husband and kids before I’d have to face the daunting prospect of wearing wigs for the rest of my life.
But when I hit 22, my hair decided to hit the high road. Over the next year, the shedding sped up like crazy, and by the time I turned 23, most of the hair on the top of my head was gone. Luckily, I had just moved to Buffalo, NY (where the climate is comparable to Antarctica) and winter was beginning. I wore winter hats literally everywhere I went. Fancy restaurant? Oh, I’m sure they won’t mind if I leave on my pom-pom beanie. As you can imagine, that got awkward quickly.
I was in denial. Wearing wigs was this distant thing in the future that I thought I would be confronting later. Suddenly, I had to confront it immediately, and I wasn’t prepared. But the desire to go out in public without a beanie and regain my confidence gave me the strength to come to terms with it: I’m 23 years old, my hair isn’t coming back, and I’m going to wear wigs for the rest of my life. Whew.
Going Public About Wearing Hair
The thing is, I handled this transition differently than many other women. For me, my hair loss was a source of shame and discomfort, and I had hidden it from essentially everyone in my life – family included. From what I’ve gathered based on what I’ve read online and in support groups, many women treat wearing wigs with the same shame and secrecy. They hide the fact that they wear hair from everyone they know, even their family. I knew immediately that this approach was not for me. In deciding to wear wigs, I was leaving the shame and self-consciousness behind. I had spent the last 10 years hiding, and I didn’t want to hide anything anymore.
So, I decided to go public. Like, super public. Like, post-on-my-Facebook-and-share-my-hair loss story-and-decision- to-wear-wigs public. Sure, maybe I was shaking a little as I clicked the “submit post” button, but after that, I felt so free. I cannot even describe the feeling. It was like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. Not only had I determined a solution for my hair loss, I also had nothing left to hide.
Another big perk? I can buy wigs in all sorts of colors and wear whatever I feel like. Those who are “in the closet” have to stick to the same style and color every day in order to not arouse suspicion, and that usually means sticking to their biological hair color, too. I’m happy to have no limitations and never worrying about whether someone will “catch on.”
Don’t get me wrong – some people are very private and would never dream of sharing their hair loss struggles with the world. I completely understand why these women decide to keep it a secret and hide the fact that they wear hair. There are so many reasons that play into that decision, and this post certainly is not meant to criticize those who have chosen that route. However, I personally cannot imagine taking that path myself, and since my decision to go public seems to be a relatively uncommon one, I felt it was really important to share how successful and freeing it has been for me, in case anyone reading this had not considered it as an option.
What I Posted on Facebook
If you’re interested, here is what I wrote and posted on my Facebook in order to “come out” about my hair. The support I received was unbelievable and made me cry a lot. When all was said and done, I had received almost 300 likes. Along with the post, I included a photo of me wearing my very first wig, which I had received in the mail that day!
“I struggled for a long time deciding whether or not to write this post, but ultimately, I want to be open and share my experience in the hopes that at least one person will not feel as alone as I sometimes did during this journey that I’ve largely kept to myself.
Ever since I was little, I have been losing my hair. This is a genetic condition, totally not life-threatening, and it has no other symptoms, but it’s incurable and untreatable – once the hair falls out, it can’t grow back. Unlike other forms of alopecia that cause sudden and total hair loss, my alopecia is gradual, and I’m simply balder and balder each year.
I was never sure when I’d reach the point that my hair no longer looked “acceptable” or “passable,” so I dreaded looking in the mirror each day. I used all kinds of tricks, haircuts, cover-up products, extensions, comb-overs… I was so obsessive about camouflaging it that many people who are very close to me have no idea this is something I’ve dealt with. They just think I have “thin hair.” But over the past year, and especially the past couple of months, my hair loss accelerated so much that I no longer felt comfortable going outside the house without a hat. There are portions of my head that no longer have hair at all. This is the point that I knew something needed to change.
After struggling with self-confidence issues, completely doubting my beauty and femininity due to my lack of hair, something just… clicked. I finally came to terms with it. I accepted it as part of me. Another fact I accepted in the process: I’ll be wearing wigs for the rest of my life. And that’s okay! At first I was utterly embarrassed. Horrified. Terrified. I felt flawed and like a failure because of my condition. But now I see this was just an opportunity for me to grow and accept this part of myself. This is the way God made me, so why should I be angry about it?
I got my first wig today. I feel so liberated. Ladies and gents, I am rockin’ my new weave. No, I don’t have cancer, and no, you don’t have to stare at me confusedly now that my hair is 12 inches longer than it was before! You can just expect my hairstyles to change a bit more frequently than the average person now.
I cannot begin to tell you how far I have come. I feel totally at peace and I really wanted to be open about this experience because of how truly, deeply isolated I felt while dealing with it. Female hair loss isn’t something that happens to many young women and it’s really hard to find a support network. Luckily I’ve plugged into a couple of online communities that have been a great support system and an awesome source of information. If any ladies who are reading this are dealing with a similar condition, please feel free to reach out to me in confidence at any time… I am here for you!
Without further ado, meet my beautiful new hair… which looks good with a hat AND without!”
If you have any questions about how to go public about wearing hair, please leave a comment below. Please feel free to take inspiration from my words! It’s a big decision, but based on my personal experience, it’s something I’d definitely recommend, depending on your circumstances!