Although I’ve reflected in my vlogs and blogs on the negativity that living without hair can bring, I’ve never stopped to think about the weight that walking around without hair can also attract. This past year has been devoted to bringing you videos about how to manage the ups and downs of living with alopecia. And it doesn’t have to be about alopecia, right? Whenever we’re confronted with challenges we always have a choice as to how we approach them. You watch my videos and read my blogs because, like me, you’re trying to rise above the challenge and live your best life. We learn, we grow, we adjust, and we keep moving forward.
But it’s been so long since I’ve looked back on where I’ve come from in my own experience with alopecia that I’d forgotten what it was like to not have to incorporate the disease into my life. I’d forgotten what it was like to really look like “me,” and as such to feel like me without all the ruminating and reflecting and thought-changing exercises I’ve applied to my thinking to return me to that sense of normalcy in the absence of my hair. Alopecia has provided me with one entire year of “grist for the mill,” and I’ve shared that grist with you. I’ve ground it, and ground it, and ground it some more. All that grist makes for a lot of heavy lifting!
However, for the first time in 14 years I recently got the chance to actually look back on where I’ve come from, though now with the benefit of those 14 years behind me. The opportunity presented itself so simply and perfectly and at such a good time. For better or for worse I loved it and want to afford myself the same experience whenever I can.
You’d think I won the lottery, but no. I just got my custom wig styled, but it’s not just any style. For years I’ve had to get to know my wigs like they’re new roommates. We adjust to each other, wear each other in. Our time together helps others know who I am, so it’s a pretty important relationship. But I have to say I’ve never felt like I looked like myself in my wigs. The color or the cut or the thickness were never quite right. I’ve even had wigs that I’ve had to get rid of because the salon styling was terrible.
The hair cut I treated my custom wig to recently brought me back to “me.” And that’s who I saw looking back at me in the mirror. The weightlessness of that long-ago innocence of my life without my disease returned at long last. I’m all the better for those thought-changing exercises and reflections of gratitude. In many ways alopecia has brought me closer to the best parts of my character, those inner qualities that have developed to a place of strength and empowerment. But you know what? I feel closer to myself now also because I look like myself again.
The custom wig I’ve had for almost a year and that I’ve only worn on the weekends because it made me feel like Cousin It of the Adams Family is now Ms. Glamour Girl! I was so happy after my appointment that I chose to walk around a busy part of Old Town Alexandria in 90-degree heat just to be me in the sun, me in the wind, me shopping, me having lunch, me as a young, healthy woman.
One of the messages I’ve battled over my time with this disease is that it’s vain to wish my hair would return. If alopecia wasn’t considered a “cosmetic problem” by insurance companies I might feel differently. I also might feel differently if there wasn’t a multi-billion dollar hair care industry out there always ready to remind me of exactly what I don’t have.
Is the weightlessness I speak of in this case really vanity in disguise? I don’t know, and if it is I don’t mind. I’ll still work my way through Capitol Hill and be the change I wish to see, for myself and others. But I’m OK with being a woman who feels beautiful with a full head of healthy-looking locks.
Because I always want to share carrots of wisdom I’ve collected along my own journey for whomever they might help, I want to share my new stylist with you. She has experience styling wigs, is learning how to make her own, and has cut the hair of some pretty famous folks. The woman has connections, people! Toward that end she’s happy to consult with you on your own custom wig, or to help you find a stylist where you live who can help.
Visit Alanea Manuel’s website at: www.HauteNChicHair.com
Or on Instagram @HNCHair
To book an appointment go to: www.HauteNChicHair.com/Booking
Or call: (202) 379-5125
I wish this feeling of weightlessness on you. I hope you can look back someday soon on your own journey with alopecia and smile, both for what is behind you, and for what lies ahead!
You can visit the vlog associated with this post here.