16: To Reveal or Not to Reveal Your Alopecia

For a long time, and without me even really knowing it, I passed judgement on myself for wearing a wig.  I thought if I was stronger, more confident, or truly adjusted to the fact that I’m bald I’d have no issue leaving the house, like so many other women I’ve seen over the years, and not think twice about the looks I might get.  As I’ve come to understand, sometimes my thinking could benefit from a tune-up.

I recently had an experience in which I totally went along with someone’s assumption that I’d had my hair done since whenever she saw me last.  Rather than correct her, I confirmed that, yes indeedy, I DID get my hair cut and colored, and thanked the woman for her compliments.  Even as I was doing all this I was asking myself, “Chris, why don’t you just say you wear a wig?!”  I’ve realized I have a lot of reasons why, and they’re not because I’m not well-adjusted or strong.

  1. We had just been evacuated from a school building and were standing by a busy road with hundreds of middle schoolers flitting and running and exclaiming about. It wasn’t the time or place, and I need both Time and Place to share my experience.
  2. Wearing a wig is actually a pretty practical thing to do. My scalp doesn’t get burned in the summer.  I don’t freeze in winter.  When I’m running, and I make surprise acquaintances with random tree limbs, I don’t have to seek medical attention to treat the wounds that would inevitably crop up on my poor little scalp.
  3. In my professional work, I choose to be seen as a woman with hair. While there are some colleagues with whom I’ve shared my alopecia story, it’s only been after knowing them for a while and having Condition #1 present.  By and large, what I discuss at work has absolutely nothing to do with me having alopecia, so I keep that topic separate. If I talk about it, it’s for a reason, and those people I feel are the right people to honor and respect what I have to say.
  4. Even though I wouldn’t give two hoots about someone giving me the hairy eyeball if I walked around bald, I’m still single, and we as a society are yet enlightened to the fact that appearances don’t matter. I want to control for whatever variables might present themselves for a guy who doesn’t know me, and take advantage of whatever random opportunities for putting my best “girl-with-hair” look forward.
  5. Most importantly, my baldness is a sacred part of my identity. If someone sees me bald, they might assume a hundred different things about me before arriving at some semblance of the truth.  To allow that wouldn’t, I think, be fair to those experiences or to what I’ve gone through.

If you’ve ever felt caught off-guard or wonder how you’d respond in “hair talk” conversation, I encourage you to think about what you might say.  What do you want people to know about your condition?  Do you even want them to know anything about it?  What kinds of qualities do you want to see in others before you reveal your condition to them?  What strengths do you need to possess in order to share your story?

However and whatever information you decide to share is up to you.  There’s no right or wrong way to share the experience that is losing your hair, and it’s not because you’re weak, or ashamed, or less-than.  We all grow at our own pace and in our own time.  Wherever you’re at is just fine, and I say it’s always good to honor that place!

To watch the youtube video associated with this post, click here.


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