WEARING HAIR SYSTEMS FORCED THE QUESTION: WHAT’S ON MY HEAD VERSUS WHAT’S INSIDE MY HEAD?
What is it like to “wear hair”? I had never thought too much about this, but when it was suggested that I write on the subject, I was intrigued.
I, myself, would be classified as “receding” or having an “increasingly high forehead” (maybe a six or seven head!) and “thinning on top,” rather than as “smooth-pated” — balding, as opposed to totally bald. I’m comfortable with losing follicles; I feel as if I’ve had a good run with my hair, and if it’s tired and ready to move on, I can’t really blame it. If I could change any part of me, it would be my waistline, not my hairline.
But even though I had never considered wearing hair, I knew this could be a great learning opportunity. So, after discussing this with those close to me and allaying any fears about whether the hair system would look real or whether any hair that was shaved would grow back, I entered the world of non-surgical hair replacement, or “hair systems.”
Hair systems: excitement and trepidation
Although I approached this project with both excitement and an outward show of confidence, I have to admit that I was also a bit trepidatious. As I mentioned, I’m comfortable with my look. What if the new hair system was obviously not my own hair? Would people think I was deluding myself into thinking it looked natural? Suppose I was wrong and the strip of hair that had to be shaved to accommodate the hairpiece didn’t grow back? I didn’t mind my hair taking its natural and incremental course of balding, but the sudden change that would result from my hair not growing back would give me pause; more importantly, it would take a little getting used to by my wife and kids. Or say that the adhesive didn’t stick and the wind from a passing subway car made my new hair fly off: I didn’t think I’d feel embarrassed about revealing my new bald spot, but I did think I’d feel embarrassed about having covered it up to begin with.
Yet balancing these feelings was a genuine sense of exhilaration. I was starting on a new journey into uncharted territory and was anxious to meet any possible psychic and emotional challenges.
Hair systems: choosing the right studio
As it turned out, my challenges were very few. MHN Studio of New York, a high-end Manhattan hair replacement studio, provided me with my hair system, did a spectacular job with my new hair. They were especially adept at matching the colors of the system with those of my real hair. This is no simple feat, as I have very “mottled” coloring — predominantly blonde, but in many subtly different shades, and sprinkled throughout with tiny doses of red, light brown, gray and white.
Of equal importance, the system MHN prepared managed to make a statement that was both bold and subtle. The change was not enough to be blatantly obvious; I didn’t suddenly have tons of hair. It merely looked as if my hair had thickened and become fuller on the top of my head and my hairline had moved just enough to make an impression without screaming out, “Look at me!” MHN’s creative director, Flora Fuentes, and her team gave me a look that was natural and flattering.
As I walked down the street after obtaining my new hair, I was surprised by how buoyant I felt. Part of my delight stemmed simply from the fact that I had a secret: I was walking along Madison Avenue with a hair system and no one knew it except me. But I also enjoyed knowing that I had a bit more hair on top than I had an hour previously. I didn’t feel like a new person; more like I was getting to visit again with a person I hadn’t been in a few years. My walk was a little more purposeful with, yes, a slight swagger. I laughed at myself, thinking it was kind of silly to let a little more hair make this sort of difference but admitting that I nonetheless did feel — I’m embarrassed to say it — a tiny bit giddy. It was easy to understand why some guys enjoy wearing hair and how it could be a big boost for their morale, how it could help them to feel more confident, more relaxed and probably somewhat sexier.
Hair systems do make a difference
I wore my hair system for five weeks so that I could get a real feel for the entire experience. What impressed me (and demonstrated MHN’s talent and skill) was that no one knew that I was sporting a hair system. People noticed something different; they just couldn’t pinpoint what the difference was. Had I lost weight? Was I a little taller? Was I wearing a new shirt? My favorite reaction, however, was being asked if I’d “always had that beard,” which I started growing when I was 18-years-old. Aside from my family, who knew I was undertaking this experiment, only one person made the connection that “what was different” was my hair; she didn’t realize I was wearing a hair system but merely thought I was styling it differently.
At the end of my experiment, I opted not to continue wearing hair. When all is said and done, I’m happier with my own hairline and thickness. But it was a tremendous experience, one that has made me appreciate more the appeal of hair systems and why they can make such a huge difference in some people’s lives. Ultimately, the best of all possible situations is for a person to be happy with his own hair or lack of it. But if that’s not an option, a person must know what makes him feel more comfortable, confident and joyous, whether it’s getting a hair system, shaving his hair off or some alternative. To my brothers (and sisters) who opt to wear hair, I say: more power and more happiness.