Adventures in Wig Wearing, #2

My thought for the day is- what do you say??

Let me explain. As you all know, I’ve now got a baldy head, thanks to chemo and a hefty haircut, and have been wearing a wig for two days now when not at home. Actually, I am, to my utter amazement, totally comfortable with my nudie head, but I am aware that there are those who see me on a daily or at least regular basis who might not share my comfort. This is the main reason that I have been wearing a wig to work, for example. My colleagues have been massively supportive (except for a comment made to me today by my dear friend Gareth Thompson- it was so rude that I can’t even bring myself to repeat it- he knows he can get away with these things because he is a very old friend and knows it will make me laugh!! Suffice to say that he had some theories about how much hair would fall out. You get my drift.) but I have no desire to make them feel uncomfortable around me.

That said- I have no social cues for dealing with comments about my “new hairstyle”! Yesterday, I went to pick the kids up from daycare, and one of the girls who looks after Ricky said how lovely my hair was and when had I got it done. I kind of stood there mouthing silently for a second before blurting out “I have cancer and it’s a wig”, which was SO tactless and kind of mean of me. She was totally mortified, and I felt like an utter bitch. It wasn’t that I even meant to say something that would make her feel like that- but it hadn’t even occured to me how I would deal with these kinds of questions.

At the other end of the spectrum, is the local shop and service station in the centre of Ballygowan, which is pretty much the only local resource which covers all our day to day needs. The staff in there are, without exception, an absolute delight and it’s a pleasure to shop there. It’s also the first place I went with my Sinead O’Connor hair. They’re used to seeing my with my tired old ponytail, and the girl behind the counter obviously took one look at me and worked out the situation. Despite the queues behind me, she asked me in a clear, ringing voice how I was and made it clear to the whole shop that I had cancer. I was rather embarrassed, even though she was being really sweet, but again, the whole bitchiness ALMOST set in and I had to resist the urge to loudly comment “What do you mean? I’m a lesbian- my hair is a statement!” (PLEASE don’t shoot me down if you’re a lesbian and you read this!) I was in again tonight, with the wig in place, and she again asked me really loudly all about it, how I got it, etc etc, and I felt mortified again. It’s not her fault at all- she’s trying really hard to be nice and offer support. I am the one who has the issue.

I don’t really know how to deal with either situation, and in hindsight I am totally bewildered that it didn’t occur to me before my hair left town that I would have to deal with these kinds of situations. I’ve been concentrating so hard on myself and my own feelings that I didn’t stop to think about others and how they would handle it.

I think if people tell me how nice my “new haircut”, ie wig, is, I should probably do what’s kindest to them, and simply thank them and leave it at that. I have to find a way to stop myself from just coming out with it. It’s not fair to them.

How I deal with the lady in the garage- she’s lovely and means well. I’m not ashamed of having cancer, it’s not like I could have prevented it. So, I guess those conversations will probably continue.

Any thoughts?

17 Responses to “Adventures in Wig Wearing, #2”

  1. October 17, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Hmm, those are tough situations. I’m not sure there is a “correct” way to answer them. Just whatever you’re comfortable with. If you want them to know the reason, go ahead and tell them. If you don’t then just say thanks and leave it at that. I really think it’s more about how YOU feel than how you make THEM feel. I’m sure they don’t know how to handle it either- do they pretend nothing is different, do they ask, etc.

    I’m sorry that you have to tackle such things though. But, I’m so glad that you’re comfortable in your new look. I know it was quite a worry for you and I’m just so impressed with how well you’ve kept your spirits up this whole time. You are one strong woman!

    I feel stronger today than I did yesterday. I went to work yesterday and it was the first time they’d seen me in the wig, and I felt defensive and felt like I looked stupid. Today, they’d already seen it, and it wasn’t as hard. I will be OK. πŸ™‚

  2. 2 Jenny
    October 17, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    If strangers offer you a compliment on your hair while you’re in your wig, just smile and thank them. If they ask where you get it done, tell them a friend is good with hair and he/she does it for you. They don’t need to know that it’s a wig, and saying that a friend does it for you means you don’t have to fib about going to a particular salon, or get in the awkward position of recommending a stylist for them!

    If somebody is rude enough to ask something like, “Is that your real hair?”, just shoot back something cheeky like, “Well it’s not anybody else’s, is it?”, or just ask them why they want to know. Being put on the spot like that should be enough to shut them up.

    If a stranger is nosy and asks what’s wrong with you, the best response is probably, “Why would you ask something so personal?”, repeated as many times as they persist in asking. It’s none of their business!

    For people that know you well, they already know what is going on with your life, so you shouldn’t get awkward questions there. For people like the girl in the shop, maybe you could just say “I’m trying something new” if they ask about your hair.

    I’ve had to field a few inquiries myself when I’m bewigged, so I’m getting better at handling them without blurting out, “It’s a wig!” at the first questioning glance πŸ™‚

    Jen, you’re a much more assertive person than me! I don’t lack assertion, as such, but I’m not sure that I have your self confidence. Thanks for the pointers. Maybe by the time I am done with this, I will be able to be as confident as you with wig wearing. πŸ™‚

  3. October 17, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    It is a tough situation for all…people you know and strangers, but most of all for you. Don’t spend a lot of time worrying about others on this one. It is going to tough for you to handle all of their issues and still deal with the things that you have going on in your life.

    You’re right- I am the one who is out of their comfort zone here. It’s something I need to work out, and I am sure I will, in time. πŸ™‚

  4. October 17, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    hmmmm I am not sure what the answer is. I am supposing that you will figure it out as you go. I do hope it gets easier though.
    I’m sure it will get loads easier. Thanks Corey!

  5. October 17, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    I agree with everyone who says that this really isn’t about how anyone else feels and I say if you are more comfy without the wig, don’t worry how it makes anyone else feel. I completely understand your concern about how your boys were going to feel and they are okay with your cute bald head so you’re good there! The most important people in your world are okay, everyone else can take a flyin’ leap! (To quote my little Mom.)

    If people show no tact, I see no reason to give them any kind of explanation at all if you don’t want to. Sometimes people just think everything is their business, like when they think it’s okay to touch a pregnant womans tummy without asking or when someone dramatically loses/gains weight and they ask why or how without thinking it might hurt someone’s feelings or make them uncomfortable to talk about it. It’s no one’s business.

    All of this is just so new for you right now, you’ll ease into it in your own time. Please try not to let the opinions of others, especially those not close to you, affect you too much.

    I’m positive I’d be the cranky, bald lady telling every one to “F*#@ OFF and get outta my way!” But YOU are a far better person than I and that’s why I like you.

    Yeah, gotta love those comments from older female relatives about putting weight on!!! πŸ˜€ I am SO not a better person than you, silly! And you’re right that I should not let strangers bother me.

  6. October 17, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    Wow. I’m sorry I was so wordy! πŸ™‚

  7. October 18, 2008 at 1:22 am

    Hugs babe! I still get comments about why I’m not “getting fat” anymore! It’s like people want to give their opinions whether good or bad without thinking. This IS about YOU!!!! And how YOU feel!! It’s NOT about how others feel whether they are uncomfortable with your beautiful head or not.

    The way you responded to that lady, I can say I would have said the same thing. Everything has happened so fast since you first found out until now and you can only suppress so much frustration before it comes out when people speak negatively or positively about your hair. I would say those that say positive things, say thanks and leave it but those who are rude with no consideration, give them some Irish cursing! JK. I would though! πŸ™‚ They are NOT the ones experiencing this. YOU are and it IS about YOU, NOT them.


    Angela, I can’t believe anyone you know would say those things to you! I’m horrified! ((hugs)) I’m embarrassed to say that the only Irish cursing I know is how to tell someone to kiss my ass. Pretty mild, huh?! πŸ˜€

  8. October 18, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Ditto heatherjo. I probaby should have read the other posts first. WHOOPS! πŸ™‚

    Ah, but you’re both wise ladies! πŸ˜€

  9. October 18, 2008 at 2:05 am

    I think it speaks volumes to your generous spirit and your kind heart that you would even begin to consider how your response to those out-of-place comments would make others feel.

    Don’t ever feel like you need to apologize for how you respond to people. You are entitled to not answer them, or to be as snarky to them as you want. But I know you, and I am certain that n matter how you feel inside, you will be gracious and kind.

    I agree – this is just going to take some getting used to, as you grow into your new skin – that strong woman who is kicking cancer’s arse!

    Yeah, I probably just need time to get my head around it- thanks Karen!

  10. October 18, 2008 at 5:59 am

    I think how you answer really is up to your comfort level (as others have said). You could even just say “I ordered it online” and leave them with their mouth hanging trying to figure out what you mean. You could also simply say “I’d rather not say” which might just be the truth.

    And if you don’t always want to wear a wig, there are lots of cute hats out there or your cute almost “chrome dome”. It really should only matter what you think and how comfortable you are. Everyone else can just deal!

    I love the “I ordered it online” one- I might just use that- muhahahaaaa!!! πŸ˜€

  11. 11 Jenny
    October 18, 2008 at 8:58 am

    I think from your response to this whole situation that you are well capable of being assertive! I hope you didn’t think I was criticising how you handled the situations you mentioned – nothing like that. I think you did great to handle them at all. My suggestions are born of experience as a wig wearer – I’ve been caught on the hop myself more than once!

    However you react, I’m sure you’ll do fine anyway, and don’t you worry about upsetting other people if they are the ones putting you in an awkward position. I think you’re doing great πŸ™‚

    No Jenny I didn’t think it was a criticism at all, please don’t worry! I’ve found your advice about wigs absolutely invaluable! Thanks so much! xx

  12. 12 layla2376 / Leigh
    October 18, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Tricky situation, especially with the lady in the garage. Well meaning or just plain nosy !!?? A lot of people get away with a lot of things under the banner of well meaning. Ultimately it’s your business, I suppose now she knows whats going on, it should be enough to do a quick update with her …nothing happening etc, she’ll get bored if theres nothing new to add and if she really is well meaning a quick “How are you? …okay?…good” should be enough for her. Worry about yourself and certianly not how other people are reacting, thats up to everyone else to sort out their own feelings about it, also its early days , I am sure as you get more used to wearing your wig, a response to nosy questions will come more naturally.
    Some people are unbelieveable, it never fails to amaze me how nosy some people are and would never think for a moment that it might not be their business. The other thing is -small towns , everything is everyones business !! My friend just moved from city to small town and is finding it quite an adjustment, she recently got a puppy and had strangers calling to her door wanting to see the puppy ( they had overheard her husband mention it in the Spar !!! ).
    Hope you’re having a better weekend than last and are out showing off your gorgeous new hair xxx

    I really do think she’s well meaning and is just trying to be nice, nothing more than that, so I think I will continue to be friendly…small downs DEFINITELY don’t work the same as the city!! We actually know our neighbours here for one thing- in Belfast I knew the names of the people who lived on either side of us, and would have said hello if walking past the people on the other side of them, but that was it!

  13. October 18, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I think you have the right to express and say what you feel about your cancer whether it is a stranger or anyone else. The random people you encounter in these situations will have most likely put it behind them before you have. And if they persist i agree with Jenny’s advice! xo

    You’re quite right that they will probably put it behind them quicker than me. I hadn’t thought of it like that! Thanks Lou! xx

  14. 14 Pamela
    October 18, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Are you sure the lady in the garage is not called Pamela as this is the sort of tactless thing I would probably do. I guess there is no perfect way of approaching the subject. Happy Birthday for Tuesday and good luck!

    Pamela, it’s different when you know me- you’re entitled to ask!! Thank you for the birthday wishes! πŸ™‚

  15. October 18, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Hey stinks, I liked your sinead o connor personally, however you could have

    * pulled a balaclava over your head and said “hand over all your money you well meaning loud voiced person”

    * said that if its good enough for Britney it’s good enough for you

    * Said that you had a bad case of nits and it was cheaper than the lotion.

    Let me know if you try any of those out xxx πŸ™‚

    **Note to those of you who don’t know Heidi- she is my breast cancer buddy and a very amazing, strong woman!! We had surgery at a similar time, and owing to our much-lamented inability to wear deoderant or shave our armpits, we decided to nickname each other Stinky Suzy and Hairy Heidi. πŸ˜› **

    Hairy, I personally like all of your ideas, and will probably try them all out in the garage over the coming weeks. Maybe I will leave the stick up one to last, as after that little stunt, I may have even fewer shopping options in what is already something of an oasis of nothingness. πŸ˜€

  16. October 20, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    All of the others have already left excellent advice. So I’ll just skip the serious advice and go for the jugular:

    “I started cutting/plucking one hair every time some knucklehead asked me a stupid question.”

    Excellent! I shall add that to Heidi’s list and use them all! πŸ˜›

  17. 17 Skry
    October 21, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Can’t add more to the already massive list than the above people have recommended already. It sounds to me like nothing you have said should or could be taken in a way that will make people think anything other than “Oh, poor Suzy…”

    It probably did catch the daycare girl by surprise, but at least this way they will all slowly but surely know and you’ll not get any more obvious questions. Plus it does let you know that the wig looks great on you πŸ˜‰

    Also I had wondered about the hair issue as well, but I was thinking “I wonder if this will mean she doesn’t have to worry about the pit’s thing any more?” I’m guessing Gareth bought that to a whole new low…

    He really, really did, and what’s worse, there was no defence except to hit him a slap, because you would not BELIEVE the degradations I am going through!!! πŸ˜€

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