Disclaimer: This blog post has been severely delayed by one of Filosofieke’s ten rules for online conduct: “Thou shall not give medical advice.” But hey, a writer is not a writer if she doesn’t find a way to write stuff without writing stuff.
All my characters have hair. Many of them have long, glorious hair.
Marcus, my main character, almost ended up with the hair of a good friend of mine, but that deal went south when I informed said friend and asked him how he styled it.
Friend: Thanks, it’s a lot of work actually, I used a Youtube video.
Me: Sorry, you’re disqualified.
Friend: Wait, what?
Me: Romans don’t have Youtube. I’ll just give him curls, that’s fun too.
So Marcus has curls, Cornelis has sort of a Thor-deal on the hair front, and Bonny has golden locks.
None of them have my hair.
Or my lack of hair, whichever is the case. And while I write this, I have another great exodus going on which got me thinking: why don’t I let this trait, which has definitely been a significant issue for me over the past decade, feature in my stories?
Because I do care. I care for female hair loss. And male hair loss, by the way. I care for the ignorant remarks from hair dressers. For the money pharmacists and wig makers and the lot slam out of what for many, many women is a big secret.
So I opted out. A little strike of genius induced by having walked some dark roads long before my hair became an issue.
Alopecia doesn’t turn fun when you share it with friends. I do admit that I have a sort of morbid pleasure in freaking them out. They do not get to pull out grey hair. They don’t get to stress over which side to wear their bangs on. They especially do not get to go to a braiding workshop without me telling them I might need a model and a dozen of cocktails to make it through.
Because well, yes, the thing about hair loss is that any decent friend doesn’t care about it and by consequence forgets all about it.
Until you send them a selfie that reminds them of your magical skills of make-believe.
It still sucks.
But at least, when the day comes I can no longer grow curls of my own, wigs will be for fun instead of hiding. And I can opt out, once more. Like, if I want to use my hard-earned money for travel instead of swaying my fake hair, I could do that. I could even buy a fluo head band and people won’t bump into me at the airport.
Head bands can be fun. Wigs can be fun.
Alopecia is not. I do not wish it on any of my friends, even my own non-health related form. To say it with Réné Goscinny’s preface of 25 years Asterix*: “New York as an underpaid Jewish author during the second World War was hell. In hindsight, you say that it makes you stronger and that it has formed you. But I’d very much have liked to see someone else form themselves in my stead.”
My stories are my fun space. My characters are my friends. (If you happen to be a real-life friend reading this, this is a metaphor, don’t fear. Never fear.)
I comb and nurture their locks like barbie dolls in rehab after my baby sister got hold of the scissors.
My characters aren’t me. They are my heroes and my wishes for a brighter world.
I once burned Phyllis’s strands right off. She barely noticed. No one cared. And this is where it gets harder: she didn’t care.
She’s not me. She’s perhaps, both my darkest and my bravest part. She’s the one who helps me jump when I’m still hesitating but I wouldn’t trust her with my twitter account in a million years. She’s the one who doesn’t care about the world. She’s the one who’d shave those failing locks right off and who’d smirk at the startled faces. I can’t always do that.
She’s also the one who would mock anyone weak enough not to do the same. I wouldn’t do that.
Phyllis is not my own voice. I am my own voice. And while I don’t find Alopecia enough fun to bestow it upon my fictional friends, I do care enough to share some thoughts about it.
So let me share with you a blog that meant a great deal to me a few years back:
What I love about Lauren, the author:
- She’s upbeat
- She’s a good writer
- She’s careful with medical advice
- She makes wigs sound fun (And they ARE!)
I know how much panic and stress features on sites about hair loss, particularly, but certainly not only, about female hair loss. So if you stumbled upon some other blogs that bring some spike into this issue, please let me know! I’d be overjoyed to help spread word about them.