“I have made a decision, and luckily, if I don’t like it, I can always change my mind, right? Right.” Right again. And again …
If we are lucky and we work hard, we sometimes come to a place of self-acceptance, a time and place in life where we accept our bald selves, for a day, for a month, for months or years, and then, often, we start all over again.
As a bald woman, I’ve learned that self-acceptance is neither stationary nor permanent. As we move and change, as the lookers and bystanders change (their comments never change), so does our perception and acceptance of self. So goes the epilogue to “Moth and Butterfly,” by Terese Weir, “the cute bald chick.”
Terese’s story goes from married “cute bald chick” to single “cute bald chick.” From self-employed at home to hospital employee. After years of wearing only beaubeaus, Terese was having some hair envy and began to wig shop. Her intention wasn’t to fool anyone. According to her, everyone already knew she was a “bald chick.” It was the act of going to work at a public place and now having to “see hair everywhere.” She hadn’t changed, was as beautiful as ever, but the time and place elements of her self-acceptance had changed. New time, new place, new self-image.
Despite the supportive statements of coworkers assuring her that she is beautiful and doesn’t need hair, my cute bald chick of a friend shared, “you and I both know that women who do not have Alopecia always say that. They mean it, but 99.9 percent of the sentiment comes from a position of they have hair.” Yes, I knew exactly what she is talking about.
I also know what a new crowd, new environment, new social stage does to my own level of self-acceptance as a bald beauty. Even bona fide new hair emanating organically from my very own follicles doesn’t seem to qualify me for anonymity and normal conversation. I learned that at my son’s wedding, which I proudly attended with a couple inches of new hair growth, colored and styled for the occasion. Thinking I’d been granted a huge gift for having the opportunity to attend his wedding with my natural hair, I was wrong to think I’d just blend in for a change. Instead, I had to respond to inquiries and compliments on my “new wig.”
Change, adjustment, adaptation—it’s inevitable, always on the horizon, and though we may be permanently bald, though we may have accepted the bald chick in the mirror for the moment, that will change, again and again.
Alopecia is like a Polaroid lens that replaces the visual glare with a stark clarity of just who we are under the hair, without the eyebrows or eyelashes. Depending upon what’s in the background, the nature of here and now, we either like what see, or we don’t, or most often, we do and then we don’t. This isn’t just true for us bald chicks. With or without hair, our self-image bounces up and down. Those of you with hair bounce on a half-deflated basketball perhaps, while we bald chicks ride the super ball.
Susan Beausang, President, 4Women.com