The Long and Short of It: It Isn’t Just Hair (Converting a Non-Believer) by Kerry

I met Sue when I was a temp worker at a company back in 2011. I had not started wearing wigs yet and the thought had not even crossed my mind, although that journey would begin less than a year later. She was in the cube across from me and although quiet (and mysterious! she would say – but only because she is Korean and that is what people expect her to be, lol) she has the brightest smile, is very clever and funny, and has the most wonderful laugh – she thought I was hilarious and we were quick friends. I only worked at the company for a few months before moving to another state, but we stayed in touch and I soon knew it was for a reason, although it would be another five years before that reason was fulfilled.

When I moved back last summer, I asked Sue to lunch. I was excited because she had only known me as my former self – without very much hair and having very little herself I thought this may be a great opportunity to show her what wigs were about. I had told her I started wearing them and she seemed…skeptical. I thought she would be shocked to see me with hair. She was not – she absolutely didn’t believe me that I was wearing a wig! I even wore a long, curly wig – so completely opposite of my short, cropped, fluff of a ‘do that was my biohair – and I almost had to remove it in the restaurant to convince her it wasn’t mine!

I think a lot of people, including myself and Sue, have this preconceived notion that a wig = fake, obvious, costume, ridiculous and isn’t it such a pleasant surprise to find that this is not the case! This was the first of many revelations for Sue, who was going to be hard pressed to be convinced of giving wigs a chance still.

I didn’t want to pressure her, but I did want to offer her the possibility – so we discussed the matter further. Sue had started losing her hair when she was young, and as a Korean bride, was shamed on her wedding day to have so little. Her mother had offered to get her a wig at one point, but her offer was made decades ago and all they knew were the short, cropped caps of ill-fitting curls that some of us can still picture, possibly sliding off our dear grandmother’s heads. Not a fashionable look for a young mother and wife.

So Sue soldiered on, living her life and ignoring her reflection, focusing on her marriage and her son, earning a Master’s degree in computer programming. Here she was now, her son grown, divorced, and working – still ignoring her reflection (it is old habit, you know), carefully combing her hair, keeping her appearance neat and still with that smile made of sunshine and laugh so sweet.

During our discussions and learning these details about Sue (boy, could I relate to ignoring the reflection in the mirror, focusing on others and ignoring everything else) I found her arguments to be about wanting people to like her for her genuine self – and worrying that wigs would obscure that.

“I want people to like me for who I truly am, I don’t want them to think I am fake.”

Ah! Now there is an argument. And I get it! She felt as though she would be deceptive by wearing a wig. That not only would it look ridiculous, everyone would know, and they would think of her as a liar.

“Sue,” I said, “Are you wearing a bra?” Shocked, she replied, “Of course!”

“Well, that isn’t very honest of you, is it? Your boobs are probably a bit higher in a bra than they really are – it is kind of a lie.” She laughed but I knew I had struck a chord.

While there was much more to the conversation, the point was this – we wear clothes: pants, underwear, shirts, shoes – we are ill equipped for the world without them. We don’t think of people as lying when they are wearing these things, they are simply doing what is socially accepted and what is best to help them survive in the world and fit in with society. We tend to only give people who can navigate society successfully a chance – to see them for who they are. You aren’t going to have a meaningful conversation with a person in a coffee shop who isn’t wearing pants. You are going to be too busy wondering why the heck they don’t have pants on and probably trying to get away from them to listen to what they have to say or taking measure of the content of their character.

Hair, especially for women, is the same. We are expected to have a full head of hair. When we don’t have it is when it becomes distracting. While people will eventually see past that, it does make it a little harder, doesn’t it? It becomes a hurdle to seeing who you really are, as opposed to a deception made to obscure yourself.

Sue lost her hair when she was young through no fault of her own. It never hid her smile or her smarts or her hard work – and a wig wasn’t going to hide any of that either. She agreed to give it a go.

She came to my place – I kind of have a lot of hair 😉.

This is Sue.

And this is Sue with hair (notice the smile!). A couple hours and a few selfies later – Sue was on her way to becoming a believer.

Six months later, Sue came for another visit – I had more wigs I told her and she could take her pick! She had just come from a job interview and the change in her was remarkable. Friends and family accepted the new Sue and encouraged her, giving her compliments. I swear she was walking a little taller when she came over, and it wasn’t the heels. Sue felt good about herself and it showed. She was more confident – what makes Sue, well Sue – showed even more clearly now.

I was so darn proud of her. She was so scared of wearing wigs. Scared of what people would think. Scared of her own reflection, and she did it anyway.

Deciding to wear wigs is not easy as we all know. Losing our hair – for whatever reason – it wasn’t our choice and certainly not our fault. And we need to acknowledge that. And we can do something about it to make ourselves feel better. To help people see the real person inside – to see past our hair.


You can see all of Kerry’s guest blogger posts here.

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7 Comments

  1. Mel
    June 14, 2018 / 11:39 am

    Kerry, Please let Sue know she looks beautiful on the outside but her inner beauty is beaming!!!!! Thanks for another wonderfully written post.

  2. Kathleen Ryan
    June 14, 2018 / 2:46 pm

    Oh I’m all teary eyes..awe what a hearwarming story..I can so relate….I have a couple of friends I am working with but none have taken the plunge…I hope they do look at Sues smile..a different woman! Thank you and thank you Sue for sharing this beautiful story…I love happy endings…;-) xxox

    • Kerry - General Manager
      June 19, 2018 / 5:30 pm

      Thanks, Kathleen!

      I knew it was a huge opportunity and so glad she gave me (and wigs) the chance! I mean, how cool is it to help someone else like this? The coolest! 😀

  3. Holly
    June 14, 2018 / 3:52 pm

    Kerry I really enjoy the honesty in your blogs. I would really love if Cysterwigs had you do a youtube playlist about coming to terms with hair loss! Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about beauty and social leverage, and how some people think they are not beautiful but just pretending to be. It’s not a view I agree with, but still it pervades our society. When I wear wigs (which isn’t all the time, and I’m bald from scarring alopecia) I’m not pretending to be anything, and I’m not trying to “pass” as a person with hair. And I’m not pandering to societal expectations, I’m just expressing myself they way you would with a cute dress or nice earrings. But the truth is, people are friendlier to me with hair than without. I suddenly benefit from pretty girl privilege. It’s unfair but it’s how things are. That’s why this supportive community is so important, I love the whole cysterwigs team.

    • Kerry - General Manager
      June 19, 2018 / 5:33 pm

      I think that is a wonderful idea, Holly! I am planning on making some videos for the CysterWigs channel (I need to make the time!) and I definitely want to address subjects just like that – dealing with hair loss, telling people (or not!) that you wear wigs, dating with wigs, etc. I think I can serve the community best with those types of videos rather than adding my face to the dozens that review wigs and do it so well already. I love your perspective on this! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  4. June 14, 2018 / 4:31 pm

    Kerry, I cried when I read your post. It’s inspirational. And the smile that Sue had when she tried on those wigs, I know that smile, it’s the same one I had the first time I tried on a wig! It seemed like a miracle to me that such a transformation was possible. And my face hurt from smiling! And I think Sue is another of my heroes now! I love her. A woman of beauty and courage, and that’s why the two of you are friends!!! Thank you both for the lessons in courage and friendship. Don’t stop these posts of yours … You have a gift for describing this road trip we are all of us taking. Thanks, Kerry. (Thanks to Sue!!!)

    • Kerry - General Manager
      June 19, 2018 / 5:34 pm

      Awww, thanks Anne! I find so much inspiration here and in our little corner of the InterWebs – makes me feel all warm and tingly that I can give some of that back!

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