As a coach I help others to increase confidence in their ability to perform to their optimum. I support coachees to become more aware of helpful thinking, increase emotional intelligence and build on existing skills and strengths. In some ways self image is also part of this as it is closely linked to self esteem.
I was asked to write this article as it is now becoming more popular to alter our image in a variety of ways in order to have the best life that we can by using wigs. In my role of coaching for health and wellbeing I also help with styling and self image both the psychological and emotional side of it and what we can do behaviourally. I help coachees to increase self esteem which can often link to self image and in my experience as a dance performer and costume maker I am not new to the use of wigs to change my image.
Going through a transformation whether you put a wig over your hair or wear a wig instead of hair can be an amazing but also a slightly daunting process. I put this blog together to help answer questions that might arise. The name of my practice - mariposa coaching - is Spanish for butterfly, as I focus on helping people to feel good and confident and like the butterfly go through a transformation process to have an identity that suits.
Wigs and hair pieces can cover up what we don't wish to reveal to the world and they can also uncover our hidden beauty.
We might be thinking of wearing a wig if we have hair loss due to a health condition, if we are in a situation where a change of image could help us with a boost like a meeting or presentation, if as we get older our hair thins and miss how we used to look, if we are in transition with changing gender or wishing to present as a different gender, if we are performing on stage, for a special occasion or if we are wanting to go out as our favourite super hero/heroine. Wigs are getting more and more fashionable and can give us an identity in life and a way to thrive and let our personalities show through that we might not have considered previously. I just saw an advert today suggesting that no prom dress is complete without that glamourous stunning wig!
Wearing different wigs can help somebody to break through psychological barriers, as a great friend and coach said to me recently, you can feel like you have different strengths and super powers when wearing each wig.
I was thinking to myself what if Darth Vader in Star Wars had a wig to cover up after his accident would his and his stormtroopers paths have been any different?
My nana was instrumental in my fascination with the art of wig wearing from a young age. The amazing Muriel Mew lived through WW2, two cancers to live to the ripe old age of 92 and she was totally my guru. It was not until her last year of life that I saw her real hair for the first time in a short bob down to her jawline. As a child she had contracted ring worm and in those days they would shave the head and her hair never truly grew back. The wig was named 'Charlie' by my grandad and she would offer you a slice of lemon merangue pie and talk about her wig in the same breath. As a young child and even as an adult she was worthy of adoration - with her wig, her lipstick and high pink heels she was something of magic to me.
Her strong positive attitude to facing anything that came at her has provided me with a strong role model.
Here she is with 'Charlie' at my wedding. Wearing a wig is a very personal thing. You might not want anyone to know it is not your hair or my may be 'out' like my Nana. In either case I hope that for those of you who are getting their wig on this article is helpful.
Let's start at the beginning with a bit of wig history
The history of the wig is interesting and a huge subject with differences all over the world, I have put together just a few facts. In Egyptian society men and women commonly had clean shaven or close cropped hair and often wore wigs. In the 16th century in the West they were popular for both aesthetic reasons and also to serve a practical purpose. Artificial hairpieces could be more effectively de-loused than real hair!
In Elizabethan time they were linked to royal patronage - remember the famous red wig of Elizabeth the 1st. In England for many centuries after they were obligatory garb for men of rank. Wig makers were revered. At the start of the 19th century this wearing of wigs as a social status in the US and France was dying out. Wiglets, curls and buns became fashionable at this time. Isn't it great, I can't come out tonight as I have to get my wiglet cleaned!
Many celebrities have brought back the wig in popularity. I can think of Donna Summer, Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga, Diana Ross, Cher, Tina Turner and Raquel Welch who have popularized wigs. The advent of Cosplay and ComicCon have made the wig even more trendy. Let's face it who doesn't want to look like Mother of Dragons with her long white tresses from Game of Thrones?
So how can wearing a wig help?
It can totally enhance your confidence. There is something magical when you go from a blond to a brunette, from long to short with a wave of a hair piece. It can feel like you are incognito like when I get on stage to perform a dance piece. It can give you a boost. It can change people's perceptions.
What if you went to that work meeting or training event or presentation looking like someone completely different?
Would that change how you acted? Would you feel more confident? It would certainly give people pause if you turn up looking totally different. I use techniques in coaching which include visualisation to help guide others through a process where they see themselves in a difficult situation and imagine that they are acting in a new calm confident manner.
What if your new wig helped with this process. It is not just image that is important, it is how we think, feel and act in situations but if you are in a position where a wig would help..why not!? Here is me in my super hero wig!
When people heard I was putting this blog together they raised a number of questions. I hope I have answered most of them below with my tips to wear your wig with style and comfort.
What to say around other people? If one day you wear a short wig and then the next day long or colour changes you can say you have 'put extensions in', or 'chosen to dye it a different colour' or just raise your hand to your head nonchalantly and say 'what this old thing!'. I was aiming for Queen Kaleisi from Game of Thrones - did I manage it?
Knowing your wigs:
The weft structured wig has the wefts sewn by hand or by sewing machine operators.
The ventilated (hand knotted) wig has the hair knotted directly to the foundation, a few strands at a time. The wigmaker pulls a loop of hair under the mesh and moves the hook to catch both sides of the loop, pulls the ends through and tightens it for a 'single knot' or a second loop for a 'double knot'. It can take six heads of hair to make a full human wig.
The monofilament wig is a wefted wig that has micro mesh sewn in the crown with individual strands tied in. They can look really natural looking as they seem to be growing out of a real scalp.
Wigs are adjustable as they come with back straps to adjust to various head sizes. Beware of this though it is a good idea to buy from a company that accept returns so that you can try them on. The average size head is 54 cm. You know the idea of 'one size fits all' on tights or clothes - well we know that that is not always true! Don't be fooled - my head for my motorcycle helmet is 57 cm (all that brain right!!). Large caps and petite caps are available from good wig sellers so shop around and try them on.
Synthetic or Human?
If you want your wig to go up to 11 and be THE most awesome wig for fun nights out you might want to buy a synthetic heat resistant wig.
This way you can curl the wig. Take each section wind it roung a curling iron and then clip in place whilst it cools. Or style it. The synthetic wig should have a label on with the heat setting. This is important unless you want to have a melted mess in your bedroom that once was your wig! It is worth mentioning here that synthetic wigs if you go for a more expensive one are very realistic and can feel really good in all settings including your place of business.
Human wigs can look more real but they do take more time to style. Wigs can be damaged with excessive heat. So try to use a wig protection spray and not heat more than once a week. There are companies that specialise in ethically sourced hair so it is worth having a search online for those. My daughter, Hazel cut her long hair off recently to donate to the Little Princess Charity to help young people with hair loss which was pretty amazing of her.
Don't overdo the products a wig will collect it better than real hair and you don't want to look all greasy!
Washing your wig - you don't need to wash it as much as human hair. Some sites recommend once a week, some once a month. It depends on whether you are messy eater maybe!! See wig cap above.
To wig cap or not?
Wearing a wig cap is a personal choice but if you have sensitive scalp and no hair then a 100% cotton wig cap can work as a comfortable barrier and also secure a more loose wig in place. It will get a bit hotter if a warm day but also can have the added advantage of meaning you can wash the wig cap and get away with washing the wig less. If you have hair then a mesh hair cap - like tights - can keep the wig in place.
If you run the risk of 'toddler pull' ie you have a long wig and a young child that likes to pull on your wig then a wig band can be the way forward. It is a soft band that goes around the head and helps grip the wig.
Wig design and styling
So how do we make a cheaper wig look good? One of the difficulties with cheaper wigs is that they can look super shiny so using a bit of talc or dry hair shampoo can help. Also plucking (carefully) a few hairs out around the scalp area can make it look more natural. Using clips is really helpful too as you can style the wig and pin it in place as cheaper wigs tend to have less pliability and you are more likely to end up eating the fibres on a longer wig! Nice!
It can be really fun to colour your synthetic wig. There are you-tube videos for this. The method I used for costuming purposes for a fun wig is to soak a dissected sharpie pen over night in rubbing alchohol.
You then put in a spray bottle and spray over the wig in all the wefts until soaked, let it dry and wash out with cold water until the colour runs clear. This is a bit of a health risk with the chemicals so do it outside using gloves, face mask and eye protector or if your health is a bit fragile right now ask someone else to do it. The lighter the wig you have to start then the more the colour will take. Here is one I coloured in blue.
How to stop a wig from frizzing? A good way to do this is to leave your wig in a steamy room can be helpful or applying a little wig spray.
Stretching your wig. If the wig is too small and you can't take it back then you can stretch your wig but getting the inside of the wig (not the 'hair') wet by spraying it with rubbing alchohol and then stretching it when it is wet, giving it a wash through after. If you store your wig on a stand then it can also tend to stretch. This is really helpful if you are a man who has fallen in love with a wig but it just is not big enough which can happen when many wigs are designed for women.
The good news is that large wig caps are more readily available than they used to be as they know that wigs are all about embracing diversity. Yay!
Getting a good hairdresser that knows how to cut and style a wig (has experience do check) is a good plan so they can cut the fringe to your shape face and liking or show you how to put plaits in or curls in to suit. There are a variety of websites where you can find out your faceshape and what length and style will suit if you put a search into google.
Day to day logistics
So it is very likely you will fall in love with your wig but like any good relationship you need time out from your wig. You may find some days that your wig is tighter than others and may choose to have different sizes. If the day is hotter you may wish to have a looser one. Unless you are going to head bang or do yoga (see yoga below) your wig is unlikey to come off and you can also put a few hair grips in. One of the main reasons why people are put off wearing wigs is that they feel too tight or they feel itchy and they don't like the nylon feel of the wig cap and the wefts on the wig. A good wig cap and not getting the wig too tight can help. You may chose to just wear the wig for a photo shoot, performance, night out but if wearing all day do go for comfort.
Take care when taking off a jumper - don't forget you are wearing a wig and allow a little extra headroom!
swiming/dance can still be undertaken in your wig but don't be afraid to tie it on, pin sections in place, use a wig spray especially if you have additions of horns or ears!
Wigs are so good at being able to adjust to your head that it should not fall off but my nana always used to tie hers on with a pretty scarf for adho mukha śvānāsana (downward facing dog). Don't forget to take a spare old wig for swimming or just wear a swim cap. There is a family story about how my nana left her wig in the lockers at the swimming pool and had to go back for it!
This article is dedicated to my Nana and all the wonderful people who at some time in their life choose to or have the decision made for them that it is time TO GET YOUR WIG ON!
Finally remember you never get a bad hair day...a bad wig day does not exist. You can't wake up with your wig on end as you can't wear it 24/7!
Thank you for reading this article and if you are interested in coaching with me
for increased performance and wellbeing in your life I offer a free 30 mins coaching phone consultation so please get in touch!
Mariposa Coaching values diversity and offers coaching to all as we are all special in our own right.