I wear a wig every day. It’s not a fashion statement or because I’m too lazy to do my own hair. I don’t have a choice.
Over ten years ago I was diagnosed with alopecia cicatrisata, a rare form of scarring alopecia. I noticed my hair seemed to be thinning at the crown so I went to a dermatologist who had me try a few different topical steroid creams and did several tests before she gave me the diagnosis. I went to her for instructions on how to get my hair to grow back, but instead she let me know that it was never going to happen.
I was devastated. I cried every single day for what seemed like years. I’d always had a love-hate relationship with my hair like most women. I’d worn it natural, permed, braided and also had it colored. Over the years it had been cut, to my mother’s dismay, shorter than my brothers, but when I met my husband it was a permed shoulder length bob. But through out all the changes it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have any hair to play with.
When I received the diagnosis I was wearing my hair in a closely cropped afro and spent a lot of time every morning trying to comb each strand of hair just right so that my balding areas wouldn’t be so obvious. If anyone was talking to me, instead of looking me in the eyes I always felt they were instead starring at my ever thinning hair. I would put on a happy face each day in public but when home alone I would stare in the mirror and simply cry tears of disbelief.
I finally told my husband, but only because he caught me crying one day when I thought I was home alone. He told me that his love for me was way beyond the physical and he really wasn’t concerned what my hair looked like. He said I could shave it, get a weave, get a wig, wear a hat/scarf or whatever would make me feel better but he would continue to love me with all his heart because his love for me was ‘way beyond just the physical’. I melted. I knew there was a good reason why I married him. Then of course he said, “Besides, I married you because of your butt anyway”. At least that made me laugh, partially because I knew it was true.
My choices were actually almost endless. There are hundreds of beauty salons that advertise their specialties in weaves and hair extensions; and also beauty supply stores that carry all kinds of hair, from the most expensive Remi, Yaki, Indian or Italian human hair to the least expensive synthetic hair.
Initially, I chose to go with a weave, a very expensive undertaking. It was generally about $450 for the initial sew-in and then about $45-$60 every two weeks to wash and tighten; then every two months or so had to start over again and cough up $450 for a new sew-in. I hated it: hating sitting in the chair with my partially bald head getting hair sown in. Also I hated paying that much money for the process…my husband paid for it but I didn’t feel good giving up his money like that either. It did look good, I have to admit and I would get compliments all the time but it was just so much money. So, after putting myself through this process for almost three years, one day I went to a beauty supply store and purchased my first wig.
Hallelujah! I loved it. It cost me $40 and there was no pain involved. I could take it off every night, wash my own hair every week and still be cute every day.
In ‘O’ magazine a few months ago, a woman wrote an article about her own alopecia diagnosis—she chose to shave her head. I wish I had the courage.
Right now I enjoy getting wigs. I have several and love buying new ones. I wear them because I have to, but they also make me feel good about something I had no control over and couldn’t really do anything about.
I still remember the written diagnosis of my condition from the dermatologist and can see the final printed words on the page: “There is no cure/treatment available for this type of scarring alopecia”. But I’m just not ready to shave my head….yet.