Wigging Out: How I Found Beauty in Baldness

trans*scribe illustration © rosa middleton, 2013

trans_scribe_(2)_640

click here for more trans*scribe

Hi. My name is Nika and I’m a wig addict. It’s been four months since my last confection.

Waaaaaaaay back in high school an undisclosed number of years ago (let’s just say that it’s more than seventeen), I had long strawberry blonde hair. It was never thick or all that luxurious, but it sure looked pretty. It was my one ‘socially acceptable’ expression of femininity that was still in line with the masculine image I tried to present. It was my grunge period: Cobain locks, flannel shirts over band tees, stompy boots and jeans that were held together with elastic straps and hope.

There were still homophobes who called me ‘fag’ and other slurs despite the fact that I dated only girls. It didn’t hurt so much as bewilder me. Still, I was glad that they didn’t guess my shameful secret that I had mostly repressed (surprise! I’m transgender). They didn’t know I was a girl. I was safe.

A few years later, I dreaded cleaning out the shower drain. Hair… and more hair. Sure, drain clogs suck, but… HAIR! My hair! I hated brushing it, always wondering if there was more hair on my head or on my brush. Hair, why you no stay on head? Stay! Bad dog! I took to wearing bandannas and keeping what was left of my hair up in a ponytail. Yeah, I was becoming that ‘guy.’ You know, the one with the long, lovely priestly tonsure. It drastically lowered the choices when deciding who to go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show as.

riff-raff-rocky-horror

After about a year of this (I may have masochistic tendencies), I looked in the mirror as I was about to tie on my bandanna and thought, “Enough.” Scissors? Check. Razors? Check. Shaving cream? Nope… Never mind, let’s do this thing! That was the first time I shaved my head and I wept. If by now you think I may have been attached to my hair instead of the other way around, you’re on the right track.

Fast forward through a dozen years of deep depression, self-imposed isolation and several hats and other head coverings. It wasn’t all about the hair. I’m not quite that vain. Being bombarded during this time by images of beautiful women with long hair while having male pattern baldness certainly made it easier to repress being transgender. At work about four or five years ago, still presenting as male, I took my hat off and one of my coworkers burst out laughing. She hadn’t known that I was bald on top. Ouch!

In an effort to accept the baldness, I took to taking my hat off now and then and gauging people’s reactions. There’s that masochism of mine stopping by to say hello again. Eventually, I got used to it. A pair of bears slaughtering 42 of my coworkers wasn’t at all necessary, thankfully. That’s unsanitary!

Having worked through a lot of things in the swamp gas between my ears, I finally came out in public on July 19, 2012, as a woman… wearing a wig:

375637_397440090318116_853540892_n

Shortly after, I was sporting a longer wig that suited me much better:

549033_401101133285345_2060168012_n

I was a card-carrying member of the gender binary and the western ideals of feminine beauty. Sure, I didn’t dress like anyone else in town, but if you replaced the fun clothes with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, I would have looked like most other girls in town. I wore a wig every day. It didn’t matter if I was heading to work, going to a bar or even going for a bike ride; I wouldn’t step outside my door without a wig on my head. I posted pictures on Facebook, Google+ and other social media sites while wearing these wigs. People loved the photos. I was pretty! People even complimented me in person. I was accepted!

I grew so dependent on wigs and the acceptance that I received while wearing them that I wouldn’t even answer the door without putting one on. It was an idealized and overly feminized caricature of me that I would put on for acceptance. It wasn’t really me. I was becoming a Monster High doll without the undeath or lycanthropy. A punk Barbie. After a few months of this, I had another ‘enough’ moment when I reached for a wig when my phone rang. Sad, innit?

I abandoned my wigs almost entirely. I did wear one as part of a Halloween costume, but that’s a costume! No, I’m not rationalizing. It wasn’t a relapse. Now, I shave my head every few days and I’m loving it. It’s much more Sinead O’Connor than Dr. Evil and much, much more comfortable to live in.

602789_468940863168038_515896988_n

I found my own beauty in baldness. I like me a lot more now. I’m expressing beauty much more consistently with my own internal image of myself. The hard part is remaining true to yourself. Pinnochina has gone from being a plastic doll to being a real girl. Wigging over and out!


About the author: Nika is a 35 year old trans*feminine androgyne or trans*androgynous woman depending on which way the wind is blowing and how many angels are currently dancing on the head of a pin. She’s a punk omni equalist and polyamorous. Currently, she’s in the process of relocating to the Philadelphia area.

Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.

Avatar of Nika

Nika has written 1 articles for us.

43 Comments

  1. Thumb up 7

    Please log in to vote

    Lovely piece Nika and it’s something I completely relate with. I’ve just had to accept that I’ll never have beautiful hair of my own. I think the shaved head look is very punk though so I guess it suits me in a way. lol

  2. Thumb up 4

    Please log in to vote

    I LOVE this post! Now of course wigs are totally okay. But I love how she pushes herself into new territory and shows us how to be proud of who we are as transwomen.

  3. Thumb up 10

    Please log in to vote

    I am just so happy to hear more voices of trans*women on AS! It warms my heart and makes me realize why I try my best to support this community because AS really cares to make this a inclusive space for all the women identified people and their allies!

    PS: WHERE DID YOU GET THAT AMAZING PLAID BLAZER!!??!

  4. Thumb up 7

    Please log in to vote

    I just noticed a small bald spot that I’d been trying to ignore in the security camera at work today, but I’m about to start HRT! So hopefully that’ll nip that in the bud. As a long, thick hair-haver, though, I understand the attachment to what you perceive as your one good feminine trait, and the horror when your male body starts to take that away too.

    You’ve come out the other side though, and done it well. Keep rocking. :)

  5. Thumb up 6

    Please log in to vote

    i blame the fact that it’s 6:17 in the morning on the fact that the only response i have to this well written and lovely article is “oh my god she’s so cool i want to be her friend but also want to steal that vest from the second wig photo oh my god”

  6. Thumb up 3

    Please log in to vote

    A) I totally thought (based on photos alone) that you were like 22. Or maybe 23.

    B) The lack of hair up top means you have moar attention focused on your eyes. Do you find yourself doing stylish or subversive or otherwise fun/interesting things with your eye makeup? Or do you opt for the simple eyeliner-oly sort of look?

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      A) Thanks! I like looking younger than I am! XD

      B) I often experiment with my eye makeup. Different shapes and such with shadows, different colors. Pink and yellow are right out! I like red shadow with blue eyeliner the best so far.

  7. Thumb up 3

    Please log in to vote

    Nice biblical reference with the two bears killing 42 of your coworkers! I like to point that one out to people who try to evangelize to me. It’s in II Kings 2:23-24, if anybody missed it any wants to have a looksie. If you look around on the web you’ll see some people doing some very interesting mental gymnastics to try to justify it.

  8. Thumb up 2

    Please log in to vote

    Oh my God, where do you get your clothes? Or do you make them yourself? Are there tutorials for how to make these things? I loooove your style O.O

    Anyways, props for rocking the bald head. I could only bear to go halfway (with a half-undercut).

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      I do most of my shopping at thrift stores, but I’ve been doing some modifications to what I have lately. There probably are tutorials out there, but I just try stuff out and it’s worked so far. My most recent project involved a grey and black leopard print bolero jacket. I took some black vinyl from another jacket and cut out the transgender symbol (took me a while to figure out how to get that right!), slapped some paint on the arms, and put a big red A going through the center of it, then sewed that onto the back of the jacket.

      I’ve also made a purse out of an old punk tartan top and equally old tripp pants as well as a messenger bag. I’ve also been turning my old hormone dispenser wheels into buttons lately, too.

  9. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I struggle every morning when I wake up, get in the bath and look in the mirror at my hair or rather lack of it. It is a struggle at the mo but You’ve helped me this morning by just reading what You wrote, there is hope I feel, thank You

  10. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Nika, first off, you rock girl!. I’ve just started hormones, and am also completely addicted to my wig / hair, I haven’t transitioned socially yet, and I’ve been asking myself what am I going to do if my hair doesn’t thicken enough, I don’t want to wear that damn wig all year (especially in our +40C summers). Thanks for showing me another beautiful version of femininity that I would have never dared to think of and opening my eyes. Muah!

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.