In an hour it will be time to take my three year old to a new session of her kiddie music class, and even as I pretend it isn't a big deal, I am stressed about what to put on my head. We last went to these classes 4 or 5 months ago, and then I wore my wig. Indeed the music class, a gathering of mostly mommies and their toddlers, was my personal testing grounds for a wig as part of my identity. It was not, however, an ideal environment for wig wearing. Dancing around with a two year old's fingers wrapped in my "hair" was not a secure feeling, and I always wondered if anyone guessed the truth or wondered if I was sick. In most of my interactions with people I see regularly, I am upfront about my hair loss so that I don't have to think about it. In the music class experiment, I just wore a wig as if it was my normal hair, as so many people do every day, but it didn't feel like a grand success, and usually I pulled the wig off as soon as I got back to the car.
What do I do today? I rarely wear a wig these days, and a simple scarf would be my "normal" discreet indoor attire, but if I don't wear a wig today, the option of just being normal is passed up. If I am concerned about people detecting my wig, going from no hair to full hair would seem a bit of a giveaway. Do I want to sit in the smiling circle with my daughter on my lap singing the hello song and feeling self conscious because I'm wearing a scarf and am not like everyone else there? If I do wear a wig, will I feel trapped, like I have to keep it up, week after week? The thought comes to me, as I write, that going from wig to no wig would be a workable transition, more so than the other way around. Then there are the thoughts of pulling up to the curb, flipping down the vanity mirror, and glancing up and down the street before pulling off my cap and pulling on my wig, and how I try to flatten it with my fingers and am both delighted by the instant transformation and dissatisfied with the details of the look.
If I wore a wig, I could run my errands afterwards still in the persona of she who has hair. I could be pretty. Dang. My daughter will think I look funny with the wig on. She has no qualms about rubbing the stubble on my head. To her, my baldness is normal. And in the time I spend worrying about what to do with my lack of hair, I will have neglected her wild blonde curls, and she will show up in her customary unbrushed state, having to push her hair out of her face, and still, no doubt, with traces of yesterday's red paint at the ends of some of the strands.
I think it is great to be flexible with how one deals with alopecia, and to suit the head covering (or absence thereof) to the occasion, but using that flexibility comes with the cost of uncertainty and of having to reset one's identity for every new situation. I feel like I am still new to this. It was just about a year ago that I got my first wig. If I am still mostly bald in five years, will I have a more secure sense of how I present myself to the world with or without hair?
Yes, I will try the wig. I put on a nice shirt, an interesting necklace, the wig. I look at myself in the full length mirror. I look slender and put together. My hair is thick and a warm light brown. Is it a bit too long and healthy looking for my face? Does my face look older because of the contrast with the hair? Overall it is a look that I could feel confident with. But it doesn't look like me. Sigh. I liked the look better without the hair, but I don't expect the world would. I see a confidence in baldness. I see eyes and cheekbones, and an inner person who doesn't have to hide behind fake hair. If only I could believe that others would see it too, and in wanting others to see what I see, I give away my confidence.