Monday, February 16, 2009

Thinking Out Bald

As I mentioned, this is my week for dealing with the hair situation. I've received quite a few emails, calls and comments on the blog with input on the wig situation. Seems that everyone views hair loss (for a woman, anyway) as really traumatic. And it sort of got me thinking about why hair is such a big deal to us and why the difference between men and women? Men lose their hair quite regularly and permanently and while there are billions of dollars being made in phony hair replacement products and methods and super-bad toupees and let's not forget the giant comb-over disasters, there still seems to be less of a social issue with bald men vs. women. Don't get me wrong, I'm not looking forward to hair loss--but I feel like in the scheme of things (you know, cancer and all) it's not the worst thing. For the few months I'm hairless and going through chemo, I just find it hard to believe that's going to be my biggest concern (yeah, I know, ask me again in a few weeks), and who's going to be mocking my "hair" at that point (note to self: get the shirt "Back Off People, I have Cancer" made).

But I was intrigued enough by the response from others to look into why hair seems to be such a big deal. That means a Google search of course. And yeah, "hair symbolism" brings up over 6,000,000 hits!! I didn't have to get far to find this:

Doth not nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her.So wrote Saint Paul to the people of Corinth (I Corinthians 11:14-15); the shame of one sex is the glory of the opposite sex. Indeed the debate over hair symbolism is both ancient and complex, and applies not only to gender but also to politics, as Hippies, Skins and Punks, and Rastafarians, among others, have recently demonstrated. Hair is one of our most powerful symbols of individual and group identity—powerful first because it is physical and therefore extremely personal, and second because although personal it is also public, rather than private. Furthermore, hair symbolism is usually voluntary rather than imposed or ‘given’. Finally, hair is malleable, in various ways, and therefore singularly apt to symbolize both differentiations between, and changes in, individual and group identities.

The Body Social: Symbolism, Self, and Society. Contributors: Anthony Synnott - author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of Publication: New York. Publication Year: 1993. Page Number: 103.

That just seems like such crap (sorry, Saint Paul), it almost makes me WANT to lose my hair! But apparently, when I do...I will lose my group identity. And this is before I even know exactly what group I belong to. Alright, so my Google search wasn't that helpful. Except that yeah, for whatever reason hair is a big deal for we humans. Again with all due respect to Saint Paul, I don't think "in nature" the female hairless Chinese-crested dog is any more or less embarassed than the male. Nor is the male poodle or collie any more shamed than the female. It's like he didn't watch the Westminster Kennel Club Show. (Yeah, everything I learned about dealing with cancer, I learned from dogs).

I do however have a wig shopping plan in place (I can't really be scaring off clients or small children) and a couple of humorous shopping volunteers. Later this week hopefully I will have a new poll and you can vote on which wig look is your favorite. Or, um, least favorite.

So, one little party secret for you--because it fits here (and Valerie is still withholding those photos!). One of the guests mentioned to me that last year she dated someone I had dated and that he still apparently had issues about me or us, or something crazy. But here's the part that cracks me up--he says I get by on my looks!! This cracks me up for so many reasons, to wit: a) this assumes I do indeed "get by", b) there's a time in my life where such a comment would have caused me to verbally eviscerate and feed the entrails of such a man to my pack of dogs (figuratively, of course; maybe), but that time left around my 40th birthday and I'm now reduced to "so he thinks I'm hot?", and c) I didn't "date" him. It was a drink, dude. A drink. And if the years since the drink are more than 3 times (yeah, three) the number of drinks had, it's probably time to get over it. Just a little rule of thumb there. But finally, I'm thinking it's a theory about to be tested. And I'm thinking I'll get by just fine.


  1. 'Verbally eviscerate' as only you can my dear. I love that!

  2. I think you should get a wig JUST LIKE the first picture there. A beehive. Very nice. Very professional. Very "I don't give a crap, but my head is freakin' cold here!" We women really do have a love/hate relationship with our hair. Love it when it cooperates, hate it when it doesn't. It's very self absorbed. Although we don't truly appreciate our gift of hair. I know I spend a bit of time in the shower shaving hair off areas that would be considered "gross" had it been left alone with "overgrowth". I guess we all should let go of our vanity a bit, but aren't all those good smelling products, luxurious visits to stylists that are so good at washing, drying and making us drool in our laps in amazement at how they can make our hair do stuff there that won't ever happen at home so great? And you'll be right back on that horse as soon as your cute, curly new hair grows back! Then you can go get yours styled and Chris can go get his cut...probably not being able to get to the barber quick enough, I'm sure. Hello long and luscious man hair!

  3. Hi Teresa -

    Wanted to thank you for inviting me to your party - it was a fun party and fun to see you, Laureen and Clarke (again).

    You have such pretty hair, if you decide to whack it off in one sitting - have you thought about donating it to Locks of Love? They use the hair to make wigs and hair pieces for kids with cancer who can't afford wigs. Just a thought.

    I'm really enjoying your blog - it takes real talent to write about something as shitty as cancer and make it an entertaining read!

    Hang in there!


  4. We checked on Locks of Love to see about Chris's hair (since he's likely to have so much of it when all is said and done), but they require 10" of hair after you've put it in a ponytail!! I thought about it for mine too, butI've never had that much hair so it won't work. Too bad.

    It was great to see you Kathy!


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