#32 To Wig or Not to Wig

Once again, I’ve left this blog unattended for a while. Now it’s exam season again, it’s probably time for an update! Today’s topic: why did I switch my look up for my second year of uni?

Throughout my first year of uni, the only people that knew I wore wigs were the people that lived in my halls of residence. Only a handful of people on my course knew I was bald, and an even smaller handful had seen me without a wig. Until last September, when second year began.

Over the summer, I work in an office, and wear my wig without fail. Only my manager and bosses know that it isn’t real. I was reminded of this at Christmas when I went to work with a new wig, and a colleague said that my hair looked nice straightened and dyed a darker brown. I really had to think before I replied, just casually saying “yeah, thought I’d change it up a bit”. As much as I am very open about having alopecia and wearing wigs (and often switching styles on a day to day website), I feel that in a working environment it is more professional to wear my wig. This is mainly due to the nature of my job – sometimes I will be working on reception and will have to greet clients. It’s quite a shock to see a bald woman, especially a white, young adult woman, and so I just try to avoid the shock and the impending “are you alright?!” Question. However, after 3 months of wearing my wig from 9-5 and then taking it off in relief the second I got home, I realised that actually I felt a lot better without it, and that if anyone was going to be open and accepting about something that isn’t quite the norm, it was uni students.

This is partly what inspired my move to not wearing a wig at uni – the pure hassle a wig came with wasn’t worth the effort. To make this move, it did require a lot of courage and motivational conversations to myself. On the first lecture back, I was suddenly going to introduce most of my year group and my lecturers to the fact I have no hair, and that was a daunting thought. I felt nervous and in all honesty, terrified of what people would say, what they would think. I just had to keep reminding myself that actually, none of these people really would care, and that really the only person who cared was me. The “big reveal” was actually received very quietly and casually – friends greeted me with confidence, just asking about my summer, treating me entirely normally. One thing that I had started to forget is the fact that actually, I am normal. Having no hair doesn’t make me any different, and it didn’t make me any different to people who’d already known me for a year.

There were a few noteable reactions, all from members of staff! One member of staff struggled to hide the surprise on his face, but continued to speak to me normally. Another just praised me for embracing myself and just being me (she 100% could tell it was a wig anyway, so was just pleased that I felt I didn’t have to hide it). By far my favourite was a lecturer who recognised my voice, but didn’t recognise me until I turned to face him. He was so visibly shocked and said “I couldn’t match the voice to the face and oh my god I’m sorry, are you ok?!”. I found it amusing, went to the lecture I had next (which was coincidentally lead by this very shocked guy), not realising until I told a few friends that I had missed out on a golden opportunity to take the mickey and grab my head in shock going “OMG ITS GONE”.

9 months later, it’s nearly the end of second year. I’ve spent most of my time at the uni bald – as previously mentioned, wigs are effort, and because everyone was so nice about it, I chose to spend that extra half hour in bed instead of drawing eyebrows and brushing my hair. I still go into uni with a wig occasionally – I wore my wig to an exam today, and that’s the first time I’ve worn it to a uni based activity in possibly months.

The nicest thing about not wearing my wig to uni is that when meeting new people, they meet me without hair, so are immediately used to this look as my normal. It meant that when I chose to do my make up, wear a wig, dress a little less like a slob, it was noticed, which made me more confident in myself.

One thing I have always wanted to discuss on this blog is the matter of when to tell someone you’re dating that I wear wigs. I’ve never had an answer to that one, and thankfully, I didn’t need to have an answer. My boyfriend met me for the first time when I was wearing no make up, no wig, and possibly the most unattractive clothes I own. Even before we started dating, he’d seen me more times without my wig than with it, which meant that this never was a conversation I needed to worry about. He doesn’t care – he thinks I look beautiful with or without my wig. And for once in my life I’m going to agree with him – I don’t look less beautiful without a wig, and I don’t feel less beautiful without a wig.

To wig or not to wig? My answer is both.

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