“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else." -Iyanla Vanzant
We had just arrived at my Mom’s house after a fun family activity. Everyone was dressed up, and I was wearing a pretty tulle skirt and floral shirt I received as a gift for my birthday, and… a wig. My hair had been going through a shed. The time and effort it took to style my bio hair, only to end up being disappointed and irritated with the end results, was emotionally draining.
I had visited a wig store for the first time a year or so prior, and purchased my first two wigs. I can’t even recall a brand name, and they were bargain synthetic wigs. I remember being so self-conscious, assuming that everyone knew for certain I was wearing fake hair, but I wore it anyway. Wearing a wig was way better than trying to spend hours in the bathroom styling my wispy, thin, shedding head of hair.
I was still very backward and secretive about my “hair wearing”. The whole thing seemed so “taboo”. What would people think? I had kept it a secret for a few years, but my thin hair struggles had been going on since I could remember. I grew up with a thin head of hair, and after having babies in my early 20’s, it only worsened. It’d go through ups and downs, but I never experienced a long, thick, beautiful head of my own hair. Adding extensions was deemed acceptable, but it never took care of the thin areas on top, which was a big part of the issues I was having.
I am an open person, who tends to express my feelings. I like to “talk it out”. Not only do I like to learn, listen, and see the why/how/who/when/where about people, and why they do the things they do… BUT, I also like to share why I do what I do… and basically “get it all out”. At the end of the day, I suppose “letting it out”, helps me “let it go”. Not everyone functions this way, and that is okay, but each of us needs to find that “thing” that helps us find peace, contentment, and the ability to move on from things that are holding us down, or holding us back.
The feelings I had regarding wearing fake hair was like an elephant in the room. I just wanted to get it out. So, the first time I finally let the cat out of the bag, was that day… after our family activity. I was in my Mom's entry way looking at the photographs on her table, glancing at my fake hair-do in the above mirror. It looked decent that day, and although the wig was a full cap, I had accessorized with a cute headband to help conceal any unrealistic parts.
My Mom walked in, and I blurted it out randomly. “Mom, I’m wearing a wig.” She looked over at me with a face of shock. “Whaaaaat?” She replied.
You guys, MY MOTHER. My mother who birthed me, raised me, and KNEW I didn’t have the thickest head of hair… she didn’t even realize it was fake. Perhaps there may have been times she noticed something different, but she never could pin-point what it was. I soon realized MOST people don’t suspect at thing.
Telling her that I wore alternative hair felt like a weight off my shoulders. Because of my personality, it actually helped me accept and embrace it. Telling that first person helped me to be open about telling the next. It helped me express my feeling to my husband about the insecurity I had about my thin hair (something I never really talked about up until that point). Becoming open about my feelings, my insecurities, the fact that I wore and LIKED faux hair – was part of what prompted me to start sharing my story and ideas on Instagram, and then YouTube. Sharing helped me heal, embrace, and own this journey I am on.
There was definitely a healing power to finding and using alternative hair, but for me, part of acceptance was learning to not be ashamed. For me, not being ashamed meant being open and honest. It was difficult at first. I was nervous. But it was liberating. It took time to feel okay with people seeing and knowing “what was underneath”, but I have realized that being brave about your struggles can potentially help someone experiencing something similar. Hearing that I may have helped just one person along their hairloss journey was another way of healing for me. Help, compassion, and service can heal the recipient AND the giver.
As many of you know, my name is Amber, and my hair page is called Fabricating Fringe. I have personally felt those feelings of dread, sadness, anxiety, and insecurity… both with the hairloss, and the fear of hair-wearing. Just know that you can and will find peace, comfort, and happiness in your own way, on your own time. Once you get past the “loss”, you’ll find that alternative hair is a joy! (At least in my experience.) I started sharing to help someone, but to also help myself.
I challenge anyone who reads this who may be going through a struggle of their own, to find that “niche” that may help you along the way. Whether it be taking the plunge and buying your first hair topper or wig, sharing your feelings with someone, or gaining perspective by learning about someone else’s journey. It’s amazing the things we can gain and learn from one another!
“When we share our stories, what it does is it opens up our hearts for other people to share their stories. And it gives us the sense that we are not alone on this journey." – Janine Shepherd