Who do you think you are?
It’s one of life’s ironies (and challenges) that we must keep re-inventing ourselves as things change in our life. Whether it be the many changes we go through to reach adulthood or now, as adults, the changes we must accept and deal with, whether it be by choice or circumstance.
We all have our milestones—graduation, dating, marriage, children, empty nest, and many others that are different or in-between all these. All along the way, we must put our best face forward as the saying goes. We play our part, and we must be the star in our current role no matter what it is. We may be a daughter, son, sibling, friend, employee, partner, wife, husband, but no matter what the title, there is a “real you” underneath that face we put on for every role that we play.
It’s not that we are phony, but we do wear a mask much of our life. We put on one for each of our roles. We’re not exactly the same when we are with our mother as when we are with our best friend or co-workers—you get the idea. But what does this have to do with wigs you may be asking? When one loses their hair, especially a woman, it can bring about a real identity crisis. Hair loss can come on sudden, or take years, or it can come as a result of medical treatment, but whatever way it comes, it is disruptive to our life and our identity. For years we may have been that person with long brown hair, short blonde hair, curly hair, and so on. But now what are we—the person with no hair, or almost no hair? And what does that mean? How do we re-invent ourselves when this happens? We need to remember: We are still the same person as always—just without our old hair.
There’s no getting around the fact that when we lose our hair we lose a part of ourselves—what has always been there may now be no more. It’s a shock, and our self-image is disrupted, and that can affect our lives in many ways. As strong as we may be, as efficient, capable, loved, loving, nice, kind—it doesn’t matter. A loss is a loss and must be dealt with, and often with very little help from others. It’s often the case that others don’t know how to help, or maybe we keep our situation a secret. Regardless, we must deal with sorrow, pain, fear, anger, shame, the best way that we can. For a woman, hair loss means that we are losing one of the things that help identify us as such. Our hair looks different from men’s hair, mostly. We need to remember: We are still the same person as always—just with different hair!
I’m glad I’m living in this time in history (when it comes to wigs anyway) because I know that I can walk down the street, go to any event, meet strangers and friends, and no one will know that I am wearing a wig unless I tell them. Wigs are just that good today. All kinds of people get all kinds of help every day to replace all kinds of losses. Whether it be hair, teeth, limbs, and even organs, we are living in a time where we have options so that we can still be who we thought we were with some help and adjustments. We need to remember: We are still the same person as always—just with lots of different hair to pick from now!
My hope for you is that you never forget who you are as you face your challenges, whether it be hair loss or other types of losses. We will all have them. No one gets out of this life without scars my grandmother used to say. She also said to wear them as a badge of honor because it shows how strong we are. That’s not to say we won’t have some dark moments and look in the mirror and get so angry that we don’t have the hair we had at twenty-five, and we wonder for the millionth time, “why me”?
When I am tempted to say, “why me,” I think of my grandmother who lost her husband before she was forty and was left with six children to raise during the depression. When I was growing up it was all just something in the history books to me. I didn’t connect it to her because I never once heard her complain about it, not even about losing their ranch in Texas. Nor did I hear her complain about the food and materials rationing during the war or hear about her fear when she watched two of her three sons, still teenagers, go off to that war. I never once heard my uncle complain about losing one of his legs. My grandmother never forgot who she was, nor did my uncle. They both got on with their lives. They are my inspiration when times get hard.
I don’t know if I could have endured what my grandmother did without complaining but knowing about it helps me keep things in perspective. In the end, no matter what we have to face, we find our way. We know that though we do play many roles in life if we remember who we are, that will keep us going.
Until next week,
Vickie Lynn saying,
Be proud of who you are, just like these English swans in a lake near London, this past winter. The bad weather doesn’t stop them from being what they are and from doing what they are meant to do. (Picture from my cousin who lives in London and never fails to walk no matter the weather).
Coming to Terms with Hair Loss – and the grieving process
It goes without saying that hair loss – regardless of gender – can be devastating. It can dent a person’s self-esteem and negatively affect their overall quality of life.
“Studies on the psychosocial impact of hair loss have found patients’ self-esteem, body image, and self-confidence to be negatively impacted.” 1. (Dr. Francis) “Known psychosocial complications include depression, low self-esteem, altered self-image, and less frequent and enjoyable social engagement.”
It seems experts are in agreement, however, that women are significantly more likely to suffer emotionally as a result of hair loss.
Dr. Francis goes on to say: “Hair loss in a woman is so emotionally devastating that it can trigger a wide range of social and emotional issues that can negatively impact healthy daily living and overall quality of life. I have heard of women that retreat from social situations have diminished work performance, and even alter their healthy living – avoiding exercise, overeating, not treating other medical illnesses – due to their hair loss.”
But why do women see a greater emotional impact from hair loss than men? I think we all know the answer to that: society puts far more pressure on women to stay young, beautiful—perfect.
For older women, hair loss is perceived as accelerated aging and women have to deal with a sense of loss of virility and sexual attraction to their mate as well.
Various studies all agree that hair loss may lead to depression, anxiety, and social phobia.
- Depression can lead to a feeling of low mood, lack of interest or pleasure in activities, loss of energy, and sleep deprivation.
- Anxiety can cause excessive worrying, difficulty in controlling those feelings, and a feeling of heightened tension.
- Social phobia or avoidance behavior follows on from the experience of anxiety symptoms, leading to social and economic suffering.
- Social anxiety disorder is characterized by the fear of humiliation or being judged negatively in social situations as well as the avoidance of such social or performance situations.
These symptoms can have a severe impact on an individual’s mental health, ability to work or study, and well-being.
One question that I see over and over: how long does it take to come to terms with this? There is no one answer for everyone, as you might expect. It depends on your support system, age, how you go through the grieving process, and how well you handle the loss.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you won’t need time to process this and actually grieve—or that there is a time limit allowed. Hair loss is a devastating loss like so many other types of losses. You need time to grieve and go through the stages of loss until you come out at acceptance.
Developing a relationship with a good wig company, one that has advisors on all aspects of wig-wearing and hair loss, is vital. You need someone on your side, and the more the better. In a time when you might still be in the throes of the grieving process, it is hard to make decisions. That is when you need to fall back on people who can help see you through to that acceptance stage.
What I have learned: Grief isn’t linear. It doesn’t involve clearly defined stages … It carves long, meandering, and varied paths that popular myths do little to prepare us for.
So, it is crucial to remember that you will bounce around in the acceptance stage and “backslide” now and then back into the grieving process. This is normal, so don’t beat yourself up about it. In the end, we get on with things, and for me, that meant finding wigs that made me feel like me, or even better—wigs that looked better than my bio hair even at its peak! We all have challenges in life, some more serious than others. I try to keep that in mind every day and try to be grateful that my challenge is one that has support from places like WigStudio1, and others going on the same journey.
As we go into the summer months, I have already pulled out my Muse, Classic Cool, Straight up with a Twist, and In Charge. I am ready for it. Hope you are too, but if not, reach out for help. Here on this site and/or the private Facebook group. You will find a lot of support along with wig-wearing expertise.
Until next time,
- Dr. Shani Francis, American Academy of Dermatology and director of the Hair Disorders Center of Excellence at Northshore University Health System in Illinois
Wigs – The Good and The Challenges
I will be the first to admit that I sometimes have a love-hate relationship with my wigs. On bad days I hate that I have to wear one, but mostly I am grateful that we have such amazing ones to pick from. I appreciate being able to try a new look and/or color and find the right ones for me without the trauma and drama of going through a salon process. Now I can just pick the look and style I want, put it on, and I am out the door feeling and looking just fine!
But—yes, there are challenges to wig wearing. I wanted to talk about a few today and how I have learned to overcome some of them. You likely have your own methods too, but if you are newer to wig wearing, maybe some of these tips will help you.
First, and what is a worry for all wig wearers—the security of knowing that your wig will stay in place. After all, we are all going for reality. We don’t want our wigs slipping or worse. We do all we can to make sure people don’t look at us and think—wig. So, let’s visit a few things that you can do and some things to consider when it comes to wig security.
- Basic bobbie pins. If you have bio hair and the right wig cap (the pins go through the cap to your hair), and this may be all that you need. A lot of people just use the two long pins that often come with your wig. I have done this myself at times.
- Wig grip. This is the kind of thing I find you either love or hate. If you have a sensitive scalp, have an issue with things on your head making you feel too hot, this might be an issue. Some people love them and would not be without one.
- Double-sided tape. I have used this, and after getting better at placement, (trial and error) I ended up liking this idea. If your tape placement is good you can often get several “wears” before you have to replace it.
- Glue. Wig glue has seen many advancements over the years. But it seems that most wig wearers now use something not meant for wigs at all. “It Stays” - a body-safe adhesive product developed for an entirely different purpose, seems to be the glue of choice these days. I own it but have not yet used it, but I plan to do so soon. (a tip – store it upside down so the roller ball cap doesn’t freeze up).
Second, let’s look at the wig cap itself. If you are having an issue with the wig riding up and have an adjustable cap, try adjusting the tension in the straps. Sometimes, it is as simple as that. We seem to think tighter is better for security, but it doesn’t work that way. Also, think about cap size and your head measurements. Are you wearing the right size—for your wig brand? If you are on the petite end, it could be more challenging for you to find that perfect fit in some brands.
Third, as we all know, the way the wig sits on our head, or more accurately on our bio-hair, makes a lot of difference. Depending on the type of wig cap and the amount of bio hair that you have, or don’t have, the wig can slide around more easily with certain cap structures. You may have to use different securing methods based on which kind of cap that you have. You may have to go through a bit of trial and error to find what works best, but you will find the right system for you and your various wig caps. Don’t give up too soon.
Yes, your wig comes with directions. We’ve all seen the little card enclosed with our wig. And if you have watched any wig videos, and I recommend that you watch many, you will run across all kinds of tips and tricks for taking care of your wig. I would say this—follow the manufacturer’s recommendations first and foremost. But in addition, there are things you can do to tamp down that shine and those wild and crazy pieces of hair that stick upright on top.
I have read some “interesting” things about how to fix these issues, but experience has taught me that less is best. Too much product, whether it be the styling products or even the dry shampoo, can make the wig end up looking dirty and greasy. Start small and then adjust as you see the look that you like. My personal heroes are the dry shampoo and hair spray with a light touch. My wigs tend to be simple in style so I don’t use the styling products but can see how they certainly can add zip and “personality” to the right style. The amount of wild hair spikes and the shine also depends on the type of wig that you have. The total synthetic ones tend to be shiner, and the lighter the color the shiner they seem to be due to light reflection. I find that the heat-friendly ones with more life-like fibers tend to have less of an issue with that kind of thing. But there are some beautiful all synthetic wigs, and with a bit of TLC, you can make them look great too.
Of course, your wig care routine and maintenance will depend upon what kind of wig that you have. Real hair wigs have a different care routine, more like you’d expect of real hair. Mixed fiber wigs, (human and synthetic blends) and heat-friendly wigs, are all a bit different from strictly synthetic. I will do a separate blog on wig fibers and construction soon. The fibers used and the talent of the wig designer and crafter make all the difference in how your wig will feel, fit, and last. Choose well.
Wig storage, washing, and rotation: Some people rotate their wigs often enough that they leave them on the wig “heads” all the time. But most experts recommend that if you are not wearing your wigs very often, store them back in their boxes just like they came, inside out and netted, in most cases. The idea is that if you store them long-term on a wig “head” the wig might stretch or come to take the shape of that head and not your head. I keep two in rotation, always sitting on my “heads” and the rest in their boxes.
Seasoned wig wearers often say that having three in rotation is even better because it makes your wigs last longer because you are not washing the same ones so often. I had three in rotation when I went into an office five days a week, but now I work from home so two is more than enough at the moment. The longer wigs will take a beating faster. The friction of the fibers against your clothes and body will wear down the ends faster than seems fair. Don’t be afraid to baby them with conditioner more often and even trim them if you have that talent.
Wig Washing: A lot of people tend to over-wash or under-wash their wigs. Again, it depends so much on you and how much product that you use. I don’t use a lot of products in mine, so I can get away with a longer period in-between wig washing. The more you wash your wig, and the more care that goes into that washing will make a difference over time. Your wig fibers are not meant to last forever but will last a lot longer with the right care.
Coming blogs will focus on first-time wig wearers; wig construction and fibers; and when wearing the same wig, why we don’t look like the wig model on YouTube or the website (besides the obvious). In the meantime, send in your questions and requests for more information—what do you want to talk about, or learn more about?
I have added a couple of pictures of myself in my newest Raquel Welch “Muse,” (color RL 12/22SS Cappuccino) and a picture of my new favorite, “Straight up with a Twist” in exactly the same color, just about dry on my wig stand. These are my go-to wigs, plus my “Real Deal” wig, but that picture seems to have vanished in the dark computer-vortex, but I hope to have that in a later blog.
I have included some further links/info on where to get the products I talked about.
Two views of my two favorites, just a different light, and angle show you the lovely color blending in these wigs. It is the very same Muse wig that I am wearing in the selfie. The angle in the selfie makes it look a bit puffy on top, but it really isn’t. I was just looking downward a bit. Better photos in the future, promise. I wanted to show you how pictures can be a bit deceiving. It is about the lighting and the camera. So that is why I advise looking at a lot of wig pictures and demos and on YouTube. It will save you from being disappointed in the color if you know what to expect.
Also, no two wigs are the same. Even hand-tied by the same craft-person, no two will be identical. Understanding all this helps us decide what is important to us. Is having the exact highlights in the exact place on that wig a dealbreaker for you? If you know upfront that there will always be some differences, you’ll be happier. Also, I have learned not to make snap judgments. I like to live with a wig a few days before I decide for sure it is not for me. I like to try it on several times a day and look at it in different lights, different rooms, outside, all to get a real picture of how it looks on me—that is the real reason to buy the wig you buy. How does it look on YOU?
Send in your questions and/or topics you’d like to know more about: firstname.lastname@example.org. Just note my name in the question and they will make sure that I get it.