Of course, we all want to have approval from those we care most about, and that includes friends as well as family. From the time we were old enough to look around and observe others and our surroundings, we have been making judgments about what we see. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to our peers and to want to be as accomplished, attractive, and smart as those around us. And while we know we will be judged, sometimes we are our own harshest critic.
But what about your other critics? Did you grow up in a family with a strict parent with his or her own unbreakable code of what was good, bad, right, and wrong? Did your mother critique your looks, and did she key in on any perceived flaws and not mention the good? Does your spouse or significant other feel free to point out their opinions about everything, including your hair, clothes, and ideas, even if they are not asked? Do you have a friend or friends who you can count on to give you the once over and then point out everything they consider, not quite right? Or maybe that’s a sister, cousin, or other relatives. How do you take this in? Can you brush it off, or does it start to color how you think about yourself?
Even someone with a lot of confidence can be affected by constant negativity.
This is a common complaint with new wig wearers: “my husband/son/daughter/sister doesn’t like the wig on me.” Or hearing… “The wig makes you look….” fill in the blank. Sometimes, our friends or family member can’t even see that what they are saying is bothering us. Maybe they think their “constructive criticism” is something you want. Growing up I had an aunt whose mission in life seemed to be pointing out all of everyone’s flaws, to our faces, and with an audience. It was a great learning experience for me because I was careful to never do this to anyone. And I learned that not everyone’s opinion mattered.
As hard as it is, it is up to us to draw the boundary lines. Other than avoiding these people, is the only way to stop it. However, if we are asking for their input, we must learn to weigh what they say. How much weight does what they say carry for us? Is it out of proportion to reality? Are the person or people making critiques an expert on wigs or hair, for example? Are they just prejudiced when it comes to a color like blondes for example (do they love them or hate them)? Either way, it has no bearing at all on the blonde wig you just bought. Is it all about them or our wig purchase? It is crucial to figure that out before we take in any critique of our wigs.
The wig journey: No one warns you before you start down this path that you will have a psychological journey as well. It can be hard at times. Not only must you deal with your hair loss issues and try to wade through the vast amount of information on wigs, but you must also find one that you hope will work for you. One is rarely prepared to face an onslaught of opinions that others feel free to give.
My best advice is to always consider the source. Along with that, seek out help from professionals. Watch the wig demos on the WigStudio1 page, follow the reviewers on their pages, and soon you will feel more confident. It took me a while to learn that I just couldn’t take a wig from the box, plop it on my head and have it look like the woman in the ad. I had to get over the fear of “messing with it” and I had to learn how to style it.
Once you educate yourself about wigs, you will have the confidence to listen to your voice and learn to filter out others that have no real bearing on the issue at all.
Have a great holiday season, and remember, it is a good time of year to step out of our rut. If like me, you tend to stick with what you know works, sometimes you need a little incentive to try new styles and colors. It was like Christmas for me last weekend as I washed and put away three wigs and got out three others to start a new rotation. That reminded me that change is good and that trying new styles and colors can be very good.
For some reason, the shorter styles were calling my name. I put on Raquel Welch’s “Ready for Takeoff” and the cap was so comfortable that I hardly knew I had it on. Now, that makes me very happy.
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
For those of us who have dealt with hair loss, for whatever reason, or find ourselves dealing with it now, this is not news. We know that hair loss is generally more accepted in men, despite women accounting for 40% of all hair loss sufferers in the US. Hair loss, regardless of gender, can be devastating. It can dent a person’s self-esteem and negatively affect their overall quality of life, the experts tell us. Yes, this is not news to those of us dealing with it every day.
It seems experts agree, however, that women are significantly more likely to suffer emotionally as a result of hair loss and that one in three women will, at least temporarily, suffer from hair loss at some point in their lives.
“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 has diminished work performance, and even alter their healthy living – avoiding exercise, overeating, not treating other medical illnesses – due to their hair loss,” said Dr. Francis. “Due to societal perception differences, it is much more emotional for women, as there is limited cosmetic acceptance of a bald woman. increased societal pressure on a woman to be attractive. The negative quality of life is worse in women.” (Medical News Today)
I have written about this before, but the current talk I am seeing on social media, inspired me to highlight this subject again. It seems that there is a great gap between the need for more research, more help from pharmaceutical companies, more educated doctors (on this subject), and the reality. There has been much more research and activity in the area of male baldness and its cure.
So, here we are, and we must be our advocate for change. We must be the ones leading the way in asking why more has not been done to find the causes and cures. We must step out of the “box of shame” and tackle the issue just as if we were fighting for a cure for any other condition.
The challenges will be different for everyone. There is no one rule about how to handle this, and there is no one answer. Finding answers will be different for everyone, and the acceptance process will be different for everyone. No matter if you are an introvert or extrovert, or always confident or not so much, losing one’s hair is a huge issue. Your hair has been with you all your life; it has been a part of your identity, the way people see you, and who they think you are to some degree. You’re the girl, lady, woman with the long brown hair and silly laugh, or the person with the cute blonde pixie and full of energy. People see you and your hair is part of it. Now your hair is betraying you—your body is betraying you. How you deal with that can make a big difference in your life, but you will need to deal with that, and how you do that will depend not only on the reason for your hair loss but how much support you have.
I am not a psychologist, but one of my best friends is, and I didn’t even talk to her about my experience for a long time, and after I had dealt with it all myself. If you have someone to talk to it can help, even if they know nothing about wigs. Wigs are done so well now that there is no reason for you to ever tell anyone that you are wearing a wig unless you want to do that. Learn about wigs and what is available for you. Take advantage of our wig blogs, helpful demonstrations, YouTube videos, and other forms of education. You can learn not only about wig options but wig construction and care. Ask for help if you need it, that is the most important thing.
Until next time, fight the good fight.