Mr C strokes my head.
“Does it feel weird?” I ask.
“It feels beautiful.” he says, and then as if to drive home the point he kisses it repeatedly.
“Is it like kissing stubble?” I ask.
“It is like kissing you,” he replies.
18 months have passed since I decided to shave off my hair and finally wear a wig.
It has been a learning curve.
It hasn’t been easy. I’m still getting used to having so much hair – washing it, drying it, styling it – but my confidence has improved when I am out and that has been a gift.
Yet, when I am at home, at the end of the day, when, like the desperate need to remove your bra, I desperately need to remove my wig, for my scalp to breath, to feel free, I feel a certain kind of sadness.
I often wonder if this is how amputees feel. Do they continue to mourn the loss of of their limbs? Not letting it consume them, but still catching themselves miss it from time to time. Missing the normality that having everything you were born with gives you.
I miss it very much.
Not during the day. During the day I feel “normal”. My muscle memory forgets that I am wearing a wig. The periodic itches I get beneath my silicone cap are easily and swiftly dealt with and have become a part of my daily experience. I hardly notice it at all. And other people certainly don’t notice it. They don’t even know it’s there.
But at night, as I lift it off my head, like an illusion being unmasked, I am faced with my own reality.
I have no hair.
I am a woman and I am bald.
Of course, I choose to be completely bald for I had 30% of my own hair that did not fall out. In a way, I wished it would just completely fall out. Then, I wouldn’t be faced with the daily ritual of shaving, the 5 o’clock shadow, the stubble.
And yet, despite this loss, I also feel a sense of release.
I no longer loathe my hair, all patchy, thin and limp. It was empowering to make that decision to remove it, to finally make that stand, to embrace the inevitability I was trying to avoid. I would no longer be faced with trying to comb my hair one way to try to make it look less thin, less patchy, less bald. I would no longer be faced with unsolicited advice on how to cure my hair loss.
And I quite like my scalp. It is an area that most of us never get to see, and yet I now know it intimately. As I run my hand over my bald head, I have become quite familiar with all of its lumps and bumps, its nuances. I particularly like doing this after I have shaved, when it is smooth and truly bare. It’s an intimacy I feel privileged to have.
As I sit here it is warm, my wig is lying next to me and I can feel a cool breeze on my scalp. It is an experience I feel lucky and sad to have all at the same time.
My wig has become a part of me.
I no longer look at it and imagine it adorning someone else’s head. I no longer wear it and feel like it isn’t me. I wear it and know it is me. I wear it and feel normal.
Normality is an illusion, yes, but it is also adaptable.
I am bald, that is my reality, but I wear a wig and that is my new normality. I have adapted. I still mourn, but by and large, I have forged a new normal.
And it feels good.
0 thoughts on “The normality of being bald”
I’m not sure for the reason for your baldness.
I shaved my head for Worlds Greatest Shave in March. It was interesting to have a little perspective. I liked my bald head, but I really felt the cold!
There was a bald woman at Sing Song Showtime last weekend. She looked beautiful.
Hi there Dani. I have Androgenetic Alopecia (female pattern baldness). It can certainly get a bit chilly :-). xx
Ah, I thought that it might be. My sister-in-law has had alopecia (not sure which form) since her first pregnancy in 1999. She has no hair on her body at all. She has a wig made of human hair.
Mine started after the birth of my daughter in 1992. I have a Freedom vacuum wig which uses human hair too 🙂
I love your openness about your wig Sarah. I’m sure there are lots of people with Androgenetic Alopecia who would get so much from your reflections. Even for those of us without, it is a rare and privileged insight we have into your experiences that leaves us more thoughtful, more considerate. There is so much we don’t know about others just by looking.
PS. How adorable is your husband?! 🙂 You two sound like a perfect match.
Thank you Rachel. And yes, he is adorable and I truly love him to bits!!
Hi Sarah…I know you didn’t lose it from chemo, but I had a doctor once tell me that it’s more traumatic for women to lose their hair from chemo than going through the chemo itself. So you seem to have adjusted well… but I’m sorry your have to go through the mourning.
Thanks Karen, I have heard the same thing. It took 20 years for me to finally come to terms with my baldness (and even then I still mourn). There is, I guess, a reason the term “crowning glory” and “bad hair day” exists. Our hair defines us and it is an adjustment when it is no longer there. Thank you for popping by and your comment xx
With my hair falling at the rate it is, I might need a wig too. I hope I can be as graceful as you are about your baldness, Sarah!
It took some getting used to Corinne, but I am getting used to it and a lot more accepting of it too. Thank you for stopping by xx
I am not bald…but have fears that I may be one day. I seem to have gone through a few bouts of hair loss after surgeries and children. But I can’t say I’ve been unlucky. I’ve grown it out three times and donated it for wigs. Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s made me a little less fearful.
I LOVE That you have donated your hair Liv – had it not been for someone’s generosity, then I wouldn’t have mine. Our hair is such a contentious thing, but the truth is when you are faced with adversity of any kind, we humans have the amazing capacity to adapt. It’s natural to fear the loss, but if it happens, we just get on with life – we have to. Thank you for stopping by xx
Losing your hair must have been a difficult experience to go through. A woman’s hair is given such a huge importance in the media, it’s ridiculous. It has to be the ‘right’ color – ooh quick, cover that grey before anyone sees it! Oh yes, and blondes have more fun etc etc etc. It has to be the right style, the right length to flick flirtatiously at men (yawn) and once we get ‘too old’ for long hair, we must cut it to suit our age. BULLSHIT! Shampoo ads are just hair porn.
I agree with what someone else said here, your husband sounds like a real gem who loves you the way a real man loves his soul mate. Thank goodness you have the good self-esteem and confidence to face this pragmatically instead of feeling negatively about it. I am sure it isn’t always easy though. No doubt your writing about this will make other women with thinning or no hair think about it in a different way if they need a positive example of how to approach it.
Hey Gilly, you are right, it isn’t always easy, but I am finding that if I treat it like a part of life, something that has happened, over which I have no control, my acceptance of it is a lot better. I am bald, and it is not the end of the world, HA! And my husband is a true gem, a true man and I am very lucky woman!
I like how your husband says “it’s like kissing you”. Hair doesn’t define you, though it is probably a lot easier for me to say that, since I haven’t lost my hair. I do think it is wonderful you have come to terms with your new norm.
Thank you and you are right, hair doesn’t define a person. Well, it shouldn’t anyway.