'Why Do You Wear a Wig?'

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 / 12:00 PM

Credits: @alopeciamua, Olivia Mowry/USC, Lisa Lefkowitz
One of the most common questions about alopecia I've gotten is: "Why do you wear a wig?"

It's funny, because 20 years ago, the answer would've been a no brainer. I started wearing wigs because I didn't want to be bullied anymore or stared at everywhere I went. I was never equipped with what to say when someone asked me why my hair was falling out, and I definitely wasn't equipped with the confidence on how to say it.

These days, the answer is a little more complicated. I've been lucky to get to meet others with alopecia and to interact with the parents and guardians of children with alopecia too. Many of them choose to go without wigs, and a lot of the public media about individuals with alopecia often showcases how "bald and beautiful/proud/strong" they are.

In the past when I would see that, I used to feel bad about myself because it felt like I wasn't beautiful/proud/strong if I was "hiding" under a wig. How could I be an out and loud alopecian if I'm wearing a wig every day?

But then I discovered Molly Burke on YouTube, a vlogger who is blind, and I loved how candid she was in her videos about her disability and the highs and lows that come with representing that community too. In her videos, she talks often about how there are different ways to represent her community and how blindness – the experience of it and the outward appearance of it too – is different from person to person. The stereotype we often see in movies and TV of a blind person who wears sunglasses and uses a walking stick is not always how blind people appear or engage in the world. And it doesn't make someone any less blind if they don't appear that way.

I thought about how that applies to alopecia: there isn't one way to be an alopecian. These days, I don't see wearing a wig as "hiding" anymore. I wear wigs because it's what I've done for 18 years and it's what makes me comfortable. It doesn't mean I'm not proud to be an alopecian; it's just a preference. I like being able to try new styles and change my appearance day-to-day. (It's also why I like makeup: it's just a different avenue to express myself!)

There are so many ways alopecia manifests itself: some people lose all their hair, others only lose it in patches (or some have diffuse alopecia). However it presents, and however we choose to present ourselves to the outside world, it doesn't take away that we are alopecians. That part of our identity (and I do see it as an identity) doesn't go away because our alopecia is or isn't visible.

If you have alopecia, you have alopecia. The amount of hair on your head doesn't define whether or not you're part of this community. The way you choose to express your alopecia doesn't change that you are a part of this community.

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  1. Beautiful writing, as always, Traci. Looking forward to reading all of your posts this month.

  2. Very well said Traci! Love reading this and so glad you are here to spread such positive attitude and perspective. xo Cynthia