Why are you staring? You've never seen a pink elephant before?

Okay, on Laura's discussion "Is it time to shave?", Mary said this:

"I finally realized that I had a choice between suffering physically (being miserable and hot) or suffering emotionally/mentally (people staring, not able to be anonymous)."

I immediately keyed in on "suffering emotionally/mentally (people staring, not able to be anonymous)" because I was having this EXACT argument with myself last week. (Yes, I do argue with myself. I've been told that as long as I don't answer myself, that I'm not crazy.)

What started this argument with myself? Well, I finally received the wig I ordered online. I only ordered it because I feel that shaving may be imminent and I wanted to be prepared for that eventuality. So I told myself, what would it hurt to start practicing. Seemed like a good idea.

Well, I receive it and it's cute, nice color, nice style. It doesn't really fit so well since my unprocessed hair is rather puffy, but I figure once it's trimmed/shaved, the wig will fit much nicer and I would feel much better about the entire matter. This is what I've been telling myself, sooooo why am I not believing it?

I just felt so weird when I had it on. Not at all like me. I felt so . . . conspicuous.

So how do I pull this off without feeling like the pink elephant in the middle of the room? Is that even possible? It feels as if sticking out like a sore thumb has been the story of my life: lazy eye in 1st grade, first kid with a bra in the 4th grade, only Black kid/person in the room/class/office, only female in the electronics lab, only female in the free weight section of the gym, etc., etc. It seems I've been sticking out like a sore thumb and getting stared at since I arrived on this planet. (Why yes, I do have a tin-foil hat!. Why do you ask? Bwahahahaaaa)

Okay, it's been established that I'm going to stick out in some form or fashion, be it real or imagined. So what difference does it make if I'm being stared at because I'm bald or because the "hair" on my head feels like it belongs on a completely different person, or Barbie as the case may be? And as Mary summed up perfectly, why should I even have to care? Why am I getting stressed over this? Being stared at is not new.

Hey, I'm a mid-forties, single, nerd with a woefully underfunded retirement fund. That's plenty of drama without getting my hair involved.

Views: 14

Comment by soniamarry on November 9, 2010 at 7:18am
Hey Angie, great post! I think that when we are self conscious about something we seem to think the world is talking about us, but the more you get comfortable with your new self the easier it will get. OMG when i first tried my piece, in public, it seemed like the whole world was whispering about me and i felt soooo uncomfortable. After wearing it for almost 2 weeks to work, gym, social engagements etc I realized that the world has bigger fish to fry greater than my hair. So releax, enjoy your new piece and experiment with different ones until you find the right one. Maybe visit a wig salon where you can try on a variety! I mean i would love to have my own healthy hair but since i can't i might as well be glamourous about! It's all about the attitude! If you adopt a healthy one others will be drawn to it! Hope this helps!
Comment by Norm on November 9, 2010 at 12:40pm
Hi Angie, how's you? Good post.... no, not the one stopping your gate falling down - I mean THIS one!

Bit of a tricky one, isn't it? You're right - if you're used to being stared at, why should this be any different?
For what it's worth, I think all those other things you thought you stood out over - only black kid, only female, etc. etc. - are situations that you can imagine other peeps being in. But the alopecia's a bit "out there", isn't it? It's not a "standard" sore thumb situation. You can't imagine why anyone would wear a not-very-good wig... so you're feeling awkward just thinking about it. In reality, it probably looks perfectly acceptable - maybe you need to get some other opinions. Hey, you could even ask yourself when you're having one of those heavy tete-a-tetes! But I hope you don't fall out over it... :)

In the meantime, here's a left-field approach to your problem. While you're getting used to the wig, and feeling somewhat exposed and worried about peeps staring, deflect the looks and get them to look somewhere else instead. Try dating George Clooney and knock about with him.... I bet no-one looks at you then ;)
If George can't make it any time, you can always try dragging round a stuffed dog on a trolley.... or even a toy pink elephant. Not only will they stop looking at you, they'll probably run away :)
Comment by Mary on November 9, 2010 at 4:12pm
Excellent post, Laura. Thank you for quoting my recent comment. I'm glad it resonated for you. I sincerely hope that wearing a wig works for you. But, as I said, I just can't physcially stand having something on my head most of the time.

There were also negative mental/emotional effects for me from wearing a wig. When I was trying to wear one of many I bought, I always got depressed when I saw myself in the mirror. I was trying to accept the way I look bald, and then I'd see myself with the beautiful hair, and get all depressed and start crying again. I found it much easier to accept my new reality as a bald woman and move on once I no longer had to look at myself wearing "hair".

Also, I had a BIG problem with what to do in public if I got too hot. Wearing a scarf, I don't feel so weird taking it off, folding it and putting it in my pocket. What I mean is, I'd be sitting there with what looked like a full head of hair, and then I'd be bald! Big shock to everyone, and very attention-getting. Plus, I'd have this thing that looked like a dead animal in my lap! With a scarf, people may already have an idea I don't have any hair. I put a scarf on and off, depending on whether or not I'm chilly.

My "moments of truth" when I was at several public events during my first year of baldness. I hadn't yet been bald in public (except for Shear Genius), and was in a crowded, unairconditioned theater in San Fransisco with relatives on a very hot day. Everyone was fanning themselves as we waited for the show to start. Sweat was pouring out from under my short wig, and I felt like I was going to explode from the unrealeased heat. After about 15 minutes, I tore the wig off my head, threw it on the floor, shouted "F%&*!", and started to sob. That was the beginning of the end of wig-wearing for me. After two more occasions (a wedding and a graduation), I was done.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
Comment by Mary on November 9, 2010 at 6:50pm
Good for you, and good for your kids! Maybe in a few years, I'll be ready to give wigs a try again for occasional wearing, and see how I feel. My main problem, though, is that I'm just a "hot head"! ( ;-)
Comment by Marianne on November 9, 2010 at 8:44pm
I wore my wig on several occasions and usually needed anesthesia (aka alcohol LOL!) to tolerate wearing it :) I much prefer a hat or scarf. I told my friends and anyone who asked that yes I have a wig and no I do not like wearing it. This is what I look like and I am much better off wearing a hat, scarf, or going "smooth" than trying to wear a wig and being uncomfortable. I think I was traumatized as a child when my grandma used to dry her wigs in the oven and one of them caught fire! LOL! Either way, I don't like wigs. Maybe I'll change my mind someday, but for now, this is what works for me. Ultimately, you have to please yourself. Another interesting discovery I've made since going smooth, is that African American men and women are one of the most supportive group of people when it comes to women being bald. They are not quick to assume you have cancer. They think you look beautiful and have only positive things to say :) Of course, I think they are use to seeing women with short hairstyles or their moms and grandmas wearing scarves. So, rock your smooth head however you see fit! Everyone loves a bald girl!! :)))) PS...Most of my friends wore wigs this Halloween with their costumes and complained the entire time how hot they were and how smart I was for not wearing a wig! LOL!!
Comment by Mary on November 9, 2010 at 8:50pm
Thank you, Marianne!
Comment by Kimberly Duncan on November 9, 2010 at 9:14pm
Angie love the post. I always felt like the purple sheep in the room. I have never felt like I ever fit in. But here I fit in and not alone with I am dealing with.
Comment by Mary on November 9, 2010 at 10:50pm
Believe me, after experiencing being a genuine pink elephant in Indonesia (see my recent blog), I'm RELIEVED to be back in the U.S. where I'm only a (fill in a slightly smaller animal of a less obtrusive color)! ( ;-)
Comment by Tallgirl on November 9, 2010 at 10:59pm
I just go incognito in a life-like wig. No one asks. No worries. The trick is to get a fab wig.
Comment by Mary on November 9, 2010 at 11:15pm
I wish I could've even managed to be incognito in a scarf, but the temperature was in the 90's with 90% humidity.


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