As I have written about in previous blogs, there is a psychological impact of hair loss, like any other loss, so I don’t want to make light of it, or the pain caused by it. But to linger in the stages of grief too long can hurt us too.
So along with those grief processing steps that famously end in acceptance, let’s look at some things to think about along with way.
- Your Perspective: You know by now that you are your own worst critic. We’ve all heard it and it is true – you are harder on yourself than anyone else is. This also means that you probably view your hair loss more critically than others do.
- Your Feelings: It’s not the end of the world, and there are many worse things many other people must deal with—right? Yes, we know this, and some of us might have even had that sentence directed at us. Knowing it and internalizing it is a different thing. It takes a little time, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Learning to live with your hair loss is a psychological challenge but it is only as difficult as you make it—however, we need tools to deal with it just like any other problem or challenge.
- Your Solutions: Find help if you need it. Most of you who read this have long since gone to the doctor and you know all about your hair loss, but now you need a different kind of help. You need help from people who know about wigs and wig care. You need to find others who are dealing with this—you need support from those who can understand.
- Your Options: Professional therapy is there for you. If you’re still having trouble coping with your hair loss, some professionals can help you work through those grief stages. Don’t write off your pain because you are afraid of being seen as weak. Issues with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem can impact your mental health both in the short and long term. Get the help that you need and don’t feel bad about it for one second.
We may not have a choice about losing our hair, but we can choose how to respond. We can refuse to live in denial and allow hair loss to destroy our confidence and quality of life. Getting the help that we need is the first step. Learning about wigs and how they can enhance your life is the next step and just as important. Talk to people who know about wigs, and don’t be shy about asking questions. I’ve found that most people do want to help if we just ask. I find this especially true in the wig community because a lot of the people have gone through the same challenges themselves. They know about the feeling of loss, dealing with self-esteem issues, going through the stages of grief, and getting to acceptance—and then going on to help others.
Things NOT to do:
Please don’t give up after trying just one or two wigs. You will likely feel the same as a lot of people: the wig has too much hair (because you are not used to seeing yourself with a thick head of hair), and the fit is not right. Granted, some wigs do have a lot of hair, but you should know that some have a lower density and no permatese if that is what you like best. In other words, don’t make quick decisions. There is a wig cap learning curve as well. Did you measure your head? Do you know about the different cap styles/construction? Also, know that it will take a while to get rid of the feeling that something is sitting on your head.
Don’t think that you will look like the wig model. Have realistic expectations. Your face shape, coloring, and age may or may not be the same as the models. Even the length of your head and neck will be different, causing the wig to look longer or shorter on you, perhaps.
Don’t be afraid to put your hands in and on your wig. This can be tricky because you don’t want to mess up the “factory part” if there is a chance you might want to return the win. If you know you like it and will keep it, get in there and style it. Very few wigs come right out of the box looking great. Don’t be afraid to use the proper products on it to make it your own look. Put clips in or wear a headband to add an even more realistic look.
Don’t give up because you haven’t found the right way to secure your wig. And by “right” I mean the way that works for you. Different people like and use different methods. I am a “purist” in that I like nothing but an occasional clip or bobby pin to secure mine if I go to the dentist. But I have found a cap that fits me well. Also, I don’t do a lot of up and down, running around, being outside, etc., that might require a more secure means. So, as you can see, securing your wig is a very personal choice. Find what works for you and your life.
A happy ending—yes, there is one. Before you know it you will be a pro in your own right. You will know all about caps, fibers, heat-friendly wigs, and how to care for them. You’ll know which colors and styles flatter you—and there is when the fun begins. You have options! Just take a look at the website today—wow.
Until next time, remember, we must make many choices every day. Today, let’s Choose to be Confident.
Vickie Lynn --and Ollie the Owl (sitting among my violets in my living room looking very confident indeed).
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
This week’s blog was to be about wig rescue…but I changed it to be more about our rescue from wig disappointment. It is about giving yourself a bit of grace, time, and space to find the right wig, one that feels right to you, and one that compliments you, your complexion, and your face shape. Lately, I have been sad to see a lot of people on different media formats say: “I give up on wigs. I’ll just have to deal with this hair loss some other way.” The general theme seems to be that they try one or two wigs, and decide it is not for them. They are upset, disappointed, and often needlessly so. Things might have been different if they would have given themselves more time to do research, ask for help, and to understand it is a journey, not a sprint. Learning to buy a wig, the right wig(s) is a skill. Like any other skill, it takes time to master it.
Reading all the comments and learning about all the disappointments was frustrating. I wanted to give all those ladies a hug and say, “it’s because it is all so new—it feels like too much hair, the color might not be the best fit, you are not used to wearing something on your head—but it will get better with time.”
I am writing this in the hope that I will reach someone or several people who might be going through this now. One bad wig experience does not mean you will never be able to wear wigs comfortably. Even several bad experiences don’t mean failure. Yes, wigs are expensive and can be intimidating to work with at first. But you have to make friends with your wig, make it your own. Once you claim it, you can begin to work with it. Also, you need to manage your expectations. Everyone’s head (and neck length) is a bit different in size and shape, and you will eventually find the wig brands and caps that work best for you, and that will make your journey much easier. Also, please remember that your wig can be modified. I don’t have the talent in that area that I wish I had, so I take mine to a stylist to maybe get it trimmed, or most often just to get the bangs trimmed.
There is a process and a learning curve. A lucky few will take to wig wearing right away and have all kinds of fun trying new styles and colors. But most of us go down a different path. We struggle to learn about wig fit, the different wig caps, the difference in the fibers, wig care, colors, and sizes—it can be overwhelming. In my field, writing, we have “tags” for the different kinds of writers: Plotter or Pantser. I think the same idea can be applied to learning about wigs. Did you start researching all about wigs, view hundreds of videos, pictures, research manufacturers, talk to wig wearers, find wig blogs (a plotter)? Or did you find a local wig boutique and go in and trust the person there to just tell you what you should wear? Or did you go all out Pantser and just order a wig online that looked good to you because it looked good on the model? Maybe it was something in-between these actions, but you get my point. Did you approach wig-wearing in a more thought-out process or did you make an emotional decision? (In writing, a pantser is one who just sits in their chair one day and starts writing with just an idea and maybe doesn’t even know the story or the characters or how they want it to end.) As you can guess, I don’t advise this technique for wig buying. It can get expensive!
So, yes, there is a process, but it’s one that you can learn. I can remember my own experience in my early days of wig wearing. I was too overwhelmed to ask for help. I bought my first wig in a wig boutique, but after that, I owned my process—I did my research, asked questions, and then I ordered my first wig online and never looked back. I was not lucky enough back then to have a company like Wig Studio1. I didn’t feel comfortable asking questions of those at the wig boutique if I wasn’t going back there to buy their products. So, for me, it was research-research, and trial and error.
In closing, I want to highlight two things: 1. please, ask for help. If you are reading this blog, then you know that you can find it at Wig Studio1. There is so much expertise there! 2. Do NOT give up, and if you are in this phase, or if you know someone who is struggling, pass this on. There is a wig and style that is for you, likely there are several, but you will never know that if you give up too soon.
So, next week, I will let you know how my old wig rescue came out and will have some tips for how to rescue your old wigs—or if they should be rescued. Sometimes, it is time to move on. Until then, look in that mirror and see possibilities. Refuse to accept failure and disappointment about wig wearing. If thousands of people can do it, so can you. So, whether you are a plotter or pantser, keep trying because the right wig is out there waiting for you. Before you know it, you will have a collection of your own. The day will come when you will look at your wigs and be happy that you have options, and you’ll be happy that wigs are so well made now—all they need is you to make them your own.
Until next week, take a look at the wigs on sale now (and ongoing) and maybe start there. If you are not sure about style or color, ask for help. There is a world of expertise at Wig Studio1. There are wonderful blogs, videos, and all kinds of great resources. And remember, we are all in this together. Pass it on.