I’ve not written a blog post for a while but was determined to write one during Alopecia Awareness Month and I’ve just managed to sneak one in before the end of the month.
I’ve chosen a question that i’ve been asked a number of times by journalists, strangers and even some friends.
“Why don’t you wear a wig?”
As someone who is very open about my hair loss and very visibly has her alopecia ‘on display’, I am happy to answer any questions that people may have.
However I do have a problem with this question. It almost feels like the person asking the question is really saying to me “Why don’t you cover up that weird bald head of yours with a wig?” or “Why not wear a wig and avoid any potential awkwardness which may come your way from being a bald woman?”
In many respects, perhaps it would be easier to wear a wig. There are some absolutely gorgeous and amazing wigs out there. If I wore one, I would blend in. I wouldn’t stand out like a sore thumb. I’d almost certainly have less awkward conversations with people. Less of the “Mummy, that lady has no hair” moments. Or the misunderstandings about the chemotherapy i’m thankfully not undergoing.
The thing is, wigs are not for all people with alopecia. It comes down to personal choice. Here are just a few reasons I don’t wear one:
1. I have sensitive skin and regardless about what anyone says about wigs being comfortable, for me, there is nothing more comfortable than having nothing covering my head. That goes for scarves as well. I’m at my happiest with nothing on my head. I’m all about comfort. It’s why I wear flats not heels! 😉
2. NHS wig provision for people with alopecia is, generally speaking, terrible. I get a headache thinking about it. Some clinical commissioning groups do better than others but on the whole, people in the UK with alopecia, in my opinion, are being let down badly by the NHS on the matter of wig provision (probably a topic for a separate blog post!)
3. Wigs can be expensive and wear out quickly if worn regularly. I’ve always been low maintenance. When I had hair I’d have about two hair appointments a year at walk-in salons. I wouldn’t want to spend more time and money faffing around with wigs than I spent on my hair.
4. I can’t get over the feeling that by wearing a wig I am hiding who I am. I’ve tried wigs a few times and they make me feel more sad than when I don’t wear one. It’s that simple.
Many with alopecia don’t share my thoughts. For many, wigs are a lifesaver. Wigs allow people with hair loss to do things they otherwise would not want to do without wearing one. Things such as going to work, going to school, doing the weekly shop or simply answering the door. There are a huge number of people living with alopecia who use wigs to manage their condition. This is why I would like to see the situation improve around the matter of NHS wig provision.
But I do not like being asked “Why don’t you wear a wig?”. To me, it almost suggests that the wig should be the default option for those with hair loss. Yet I know there are some women with alopecia who would prefer not to wear a wig but it is easier for them to do so.
By wearing a wig they ‘fit in’, ‘look like they used to before hair loss’, ‘feel pretty’ or ‘don’t feel like they’ll embarrass their kids’. (These are all comments i’ve heard when speaking to those with alopecia).
As someone who has chosen not to wear a wig, I’d like to get to a point where we have a much greater awareness of alopecia. After all, it’s estimated that 2% of the population will be affected by the condition. It’s a lot more common than people think. Isn’t it about time it was given some greater attention instead of being swept under the carpet? With greater awareness of how common hair loss is, perhaps there would be a greater acceptance of those who have ‘different’ appearances as a result of their aloepcia. And perhaps more people would feel happier to go ‘au naturale’ should that be something they’d like to do.
I’m not advocating that everyone with alopecia should ditch their wigs. Not at all. People need to do whatever they want. What I am suggesting is we do all we can to make the world a place where we embrace differences of any kind. Where we do everything we can to make the world a place where it doesn’t matter what you look like. A world where you won’t be judged for what you wear, what piercings or tattoos you have and what you have or don’t have on your head!
What a wonderful world this would be.