The last couple of art events I have gone to, I have warn a bright pink wig. I bought the wig a year and a half ago and thought it would be fun to play with. It sat alone untouched for over a year until a friend came over and saw it and wanted to photograph me wearing it. I put it on along with a super cool hat I bought from the Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA and I was transformed.
I thought it was total fun and imagined having my real hair like this. Alas, I am not able to do that because of my job in the Emergency Room. In the meantime, I had the above photo as my profile pic on Facebook. It was fun and I received a lot of compliments.
In reality, my head is buzzed. Over a year ago, I did a performance called Bald and the Beautiful where I had my head shaved to challenge society’s perception of beauty. I couldn’t wait to do it. My hair was almost to my shoulders, and within a few minutes it was gone. I loved it. It was so freeing, having all that hair gone. It felt so good.
This morning, my stepsister Tanya, sent me a message on Facebook. She asked a very serious, curious question and wanted to know my personal thoughts and views… “You were making statements about going bald and how liberating it is. If that is the case, why do you wear a wig out? Doesn’t that kind of contradict that statement?” A very good question.
I told her,
“I actually went bald over a year ago. And it was totally liberating. I don’t have to worry about fixing my hair in the morning. I can wake up and go. Wearing a wig doesn’t change that at all. I have actually only warn this wig to art openings maybe 3 times for fun. BUT… My work as an artist is all about body image and how society perceives beauty and other people that aren’t the ideal. It has been a pretty rough road since shaving my head. While it is liberating in some ways, it is not in others. People see me differently. Of course they either think I am gay or have cancer or am a guy. It shouldn’t be that way. But it is. I can tell I am treated differently. Few people like my buzzed hair. Those people are my friends or other artists who understand. It’s funny, I also feel liberated wearing the wig. In a totally different way. I almost feel like my avatar in Second Life, where I can be more of myself because I am taking on the characteristics of a different persona. People look at my wig and hat and glasses, and not my buzzed hair or my body shape. I have gotten more attention, more looks and more smiles. When I first had my head shaved, you will not believe how freeing it felt. How liberating it was. It was new and fresh and I was able to explain to people who asked, why I did it. Now people know and it is getting old. I have actually been thinking about growing my hair out. A friend of mine did a documentary on hair. I will have to get the link to show you. I met her shortly after I shaved my head and she said she had done the same, but she wore wigs of different shapes, lengths, colors etc as an experiment. She was blown away by how she was treated depending on which wig she wore.”
Wearing the pink wig, DOES make me feel like my avatar. It is weird, how I can be myself while hiding behind a different physical persona. The wig changes me. I feel free in a different way than I did after I shaved my head. I feel more open to the world. I feel the world is more exciting and more open to me. I feel like I am accepted for being different in a good way, rather than not being accepted for being different in a buzzed head, overweight way. (If that makes sense)
I really want to do the experiment like my friend where I wear different wigs, different colors and see how people react to me. Maybe with long, blond hair, I will get more dates? LOL
It looks like it is time to write more grant applications. Either that or sell more art 😀