I know. I know. It seems strange to some that a person diagnosed with Alopecia Universalis hasn’t appeared publicly. You may be thinking, “What? You’ve been bald for over 40+ years and have not appeared in public?” Yes. I hadn’t. Why?
5 Reasons I Would Always Wear a Wig in Public
#1-Family secret: Being bald in my family wasn’t embraced as a sign of strength. It was like an elephant in the room! No one really spoke about it in my family. Honestly, it was known that I was bald from early childhood to the present. Yet, it has never really been discussed.
#2-Low knowledge: I was bald in the early 70’s and there was little to no research for medical practitioners or counselors to assist my family with answers.
#3 Fear: Fear constantly gripped me because I was bullied A LOT as a child. Not only was I bullied, my sister was as well.
#4 Cancer?: Like many Alopecian’s experience when others looked at me, many questioned if I had cancer when they noticed me wearing head scarves and later wigs at the age of 10.
#5 Shame: My family rarely discussed my hair loss and kept it secret from many others. I remember feeling ashamed for being bald and looking different. I hated the stares and the lack of cordiality from children and adults. Now, I know that it is normal for those in society to think that we have cancer and they are simply curious and may not have the knowledge about Alopecia Areata. This is a great opportunity to use as a teaching tool!
As I began my journey with studying Alopecia Areata and its impact on those like me, I began to become a little more comfortable with my hair loss. I began following different blogs to learn about other’s experiences. As I read and learned more, my anxieties about my head begin to dissipate. I started seeing myself! I mean my REAL SELF!
I started slow with revealing my “BALD HEAD” to extended family members and close friends. I became quite comfortable with them and started the process for other outings. I started going to the gym with a headscarf and cap. Wow! What a difference NOT wearing a wig during workouts! No more RAINING SWEAT!
Later, I began to journey to our nearby grocery store and other stores in our community.
You may ask, so what caused you to go bald publicly? My dissertation research was my cure for going bald. As I began to interview others with different stages of Alopecia Areata, I noticed some were experiencing hardships like my family. The difference was the amazing support they had from their family members. Many didn’t hide the hair loss but embraced it and continued to search for answers with their local physicians and dermatologists. I was completely amazed and continued to search blogs to find answers for this sense of freedom.
So, I decided during my Dissertation Defense to pull my wig off! Why? I was speaking to a group of people who had little knowledge about the disease and haven’t really had the opportunity to “see” someone fully bald. My faculty and colleagues were very supportive of my study and my bald head!
My next journey, presenting at the Texas Association of Marriage and Family Therapist conference in Austin last week. Yes, I did it BALD!!! Or what I’ve told many, ALL NATURAL!
It was such an amazing experience! I honestly felt free to be me! I wasn’t hiding or feeling ashamed. I felt normal. Why? Because it is MY NORMAL!
Now? I understand it is my choice how I desire to appear daily. I can choose to wear a wig, ball cap, or scarf. It’s my choice to be me!
Word of advice: 5 Tips for Public Appearances
To those struggling with letting others know you’re bald.
#1-Take your time. Go at your own pace.
#2-Safe People. Start with those you trust.
#3-Familiarity. Go to places you feel most comfortable.
#4-Just be you! Choose what is most comfortable for you in public. If wearing a wig, scarf, hat, or your bald head is what make you most comfortable. Do what is best, for YOU!
#5 Make it a teachable moment. Take a stance of curiosity. There are many who do not know about Alopecia Areata. Inform them if they ask. If they stare? It’s okay. They are simply, curious.
Overall, be your TRUE SELF!