At 22 – the age at which one is supposed to have maximum flush on their apple – I began to lose my hair.
My apple still had plenty of flush, don’t get me wrong. But there was this added complication.
My hefty, ruddy-faced dermatologist cried when he saw my Ziploc bag of hair, but I never did.
I can only guess I was born a shape-shifter, and this is another opportunity for me to master the art of adaptation.
“How lucky are we? We create ourselves.” – Pose
11/5/2019 – Since R.E.M.’s Monster is trending right now, this seems apropos. Reposted (with slight edits) from AlopeciaWorld:
On hair loss, identity, and whatnot
I have always been drawn to invented individuals. Maybe it was what I needed to keep me entertained, and maybe it had to do with the demonstration of individual power. In any event, it’s why I always loved the song “Crush with Eyeliner” and made a cartoon of a “Sad Tomato” to put on a white t-shirt in eighth grade. It’s why I love glam rock and feel at ease with drag performers and the larger than life personalities who inspire them, and have never begrudged celebrities for becoming famous via meticulously crafted personas.
Being queer as well as biracial and politically unaffiliated – not to mention a rural only child with lots of space to weigh and analyze everything – I have also spent my whole life playing in the grey areas between categories. I relish the state of ambiguity, liminality – it is where I feel most at home.
It follows that I am someone who has always felt drastically different based on different contexts and costumes. At a women’s college, my masculine side did not hesitate to fall in love with a curvy, long-haired, lipstick-loving classmate. As a romantic middle-schooler my feminine side wistfully envisioned itself ironing the slacks of a certain junior varsity soccer player. At the electric age of sixteen, a mercurial, nail-polish-and-eyeliner- wearing boy held me in thrall when my peers were more averse than not to such things.
Because I was this way already, I was probably less traumatized than many would have been when the tiny bald spot I’d always had on my scalp gave way to a dramatic, diffuse thinning of my trademark dark-chocolate spiral curls, and a resulting biopsy confirmed alopecia areata. It was unsettling, yes, but once given a name, it felt like yet another identity heaped on the pile – it would simply necessitate another costume.
What seems a bit inconsistent to me is that, ten years in, when my hair loss got really real, I had to overcome an inhibition to use synthetic hair. Why did it seem so different to me than the heavy smoky eye and red lipstick I used without question?
At this point, having used enhancements for almost two years, it seems I must have been drawing an arbitrary line in the sand. I have grown to embrace them as my own hair – after all, I do lovingly craft and finesse them, which is an art – and anyway, liquid eyeliner felt odd to me, too, when I’d never worn it before. I assume if full wigs become a thing for me the story will be much the same.
And head scarves make me feel kind of pirate-y. Which ain’t a bad thing.
5/8/2020 – Autoimmune, Mon Amour