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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Crowing glory

In  her blog A Girl in Disguise Stefani writes movingly and affectingly in  The transformation  about her ambivalence in the process of getting ready and the results that stare back from the mirror, right up to the point the wig goes on and completes the transformation from male to female.
"In that moment when I slip on my wig, I’m transformed, and I’m aware of the transformation. It washes over me and I become a new person, a happier person."
I know the feeling. For me it's two-fold. As much as the transformation to Susie, it's the joy of having long hair again. As  I wrote in an email to Abigale recently,
"In those days [we're talking 15-20  years ago ] I didn't need a wig. I had long hair, almost to the middle of my back. It was the one thing about my male self I felt good about (even, perhaps especially, when I sometimes got confused - though only from behind - for a girl*), and I was devastated when it started to thin and recede in my 50s, and I faced reality and had it cut short."
 *This happened twice that I'm aware of.  The first was when I was 20, in my second year at uni. I was lying on the grass outside one of the halls with a friend, wearing just a pair of shorts and a singlet. A friend, looking out the window, told me later she'd asked herself who that girl was chatting with her friend before she realised it was me.
The other time was when I was working in a care home in the summer. I had to wear a tabard thing (I was promised it was unisex, but it probably wasn't) and tie my hair back in a pony tail, leading  one of the residents to ask me if I was a boy or a girl. 

I always hoped I would grow grey and distinguished as I approached middle age. If I couldn't be Taylor Swift, I could always be Emmylou Harris, who absolutely rocks the silver grey bob.

Instead my hair started thinning alarmingly, and then receding to the point where I could no longer pretend it wasn't really happening, and had it all cut off short. At that point  I had several choices: I could try to give up dressing; continue to dress and look like a balding bloke in a frock; or take the plunge and buy my first wig.

Option A lasted barely six months. Option B lasted even less, right to the moment I saw myself reflected in a mirror and felt stupid, foolish and ashamed.
As for option C, I had no idea where to start. I bought my first wig from a joke shop and it was exactly that, a joke. Katy Perry might be able to get away with it on stage, but I certainly couldn't. Even after I cut it back into a bob, it looked shiny and horrible. The next, this time from Amazon, wasn't much better.  I also made the classic mistake of opting for strong colours, first black and then blond, and in a style that while it looked good on my sister, patently didn't suit me, and worse emphasised my jaw.

It took a while, and a few more mistakes (including a horribly tangled blonde mess when I ignored warnings about curling Kanekalon fibre) to find a style and a look that I felt happy with and could look in the mirror without wincing. Who knew Susie was a redhead? Not me. It came a surprise, but the look on her face when she first saw herself in the mirror suggested she knew all along, despite what ideas her other half might have had.

Granted, it's still rather obviously a wig. And a synthetic wig at that. But nobody else is going to see it (well, bar the thousand or so people who've looked at this blog and Susie profile pic).
If it ever come to the point that Susie plucks up the courage to go out in public, or meet people, we'll have to see about something more realistic - and comfortable. And get rid of that tell-tale grey around the temples.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, wigs. Both wonderful and tormenting. The cost, the faff of finding the right one and the learning curve, of which style suits you. Against, perhaps, what you'd like to wear. :-)