I have written before about the psychological challenges that hair loss can bring. Whether temporary or permanent, when we look in the mirror, we are different from who we were. Experts have written volumes on how hair loss can affect one’s mental health. If you are affected no one needs to tell you that, you live it. But there is often more at work here than the psychological adjustment one is called on to make when this happens. We saw or heard about what happened at the 2022 Oscars ceremony when Jada Pinkett Smith was made the butt of a joke centered around her hair loss. We are constantly being judged, especially those in the public eye. Why are we so quick to judge, to offer criticism? Why the need to always be perfect?
The world seems to judge women more harshly than men when it comes to looks (though men in the public eye seem to be targets the same as women). In an ageist world, any sign of baldness, or thinning hair, reminds us of our mortality and powerlessness over our bodies. This can be difficult to deal with under the best of circumstances. Someone posted on social media about Jada Pinkett Smith, “why can’t she just wear a wig like everyone else?” So, it’s easy to see that some people see hair loss as a trivial issue and that it’s up to women to just shut up and go on about their lives. This is harder for some women than others. How dare Jada show up less than perfect? It wasn’t okay for Jada to show up as “herself” and in support of others in the same situation.
Wearing wigs to look and feel better is about a lot more than vanity. Those of us who wear wigs know that, but I often wonder if other women have thought about it at all. In addition to the day-to-day concerns about wig-wearing— (can people tell? Will it blow off? How can I enjoy summer weather or sports? What about telling a potential partner?), we find it hard to talk about, even to friends. Why? The pressure to be perfect.
When does it start—this pressure to be perfect? You won’t have to look hard to find many studies about teen bullying, eating disorders, online attacks, and peer-to-peer. Saving things about people to people online has made the situation worse. Young people are not as adept at dealing with bullying either in person or online as an adult would be. They listen to all the negative and take it in, and “wear it, own it” and there it is—the pressure to be perfect. We are not allowed flaws, they are hearing. This type of situation can cause such anxiety that it will manifest in self-harm, hair pulling, eating disorders, and other disorders.
While I have come to terms with my hair loss, and educated myself on wigs and wig wearing, I know that it takes time to feel comfortable with the process. I have learned the fun part of wig wearing, and have thirteen of them and counting. I no longer think of wig-wearing as a negative in my life. I appreciate that I have access to such varied and beautiful options.
Until next time,
Vickie Lynn – as perfect as she needs to be