It’s amazing how much of a woman’s identity is wrapped up in her hair. Even if it’s terrible hair, it’s still a defining characteristic. Can you imagine trying to describe someone without being able to talk about their hair? “She’s about my height, and she has lips and ears, brown eyes. You know who I’m talking about, right?”
When I’m bald, I could be anyone, any ethnic derivation, any age. First thing in the morning, in my bathroom mirror, I could be a hundred-year-old Chinese man. Late at night, in a dark room, maybe a little Yul Brynner around the eyes. Now that it’s growing in a wee bit, possibly sort of Sinead O’Connor, sans sunglasses. (Although I was hoping for G.I. Jane.)
But of all the things I’ve lost to cancer, I miss my eyelashes the most. Eyebrows can be penciled on; a good wig can fool most people into thinking I have hair. But you just can’t fake eyelashes. Even though dark lines of kohl on top and bottom lids come close, they lack the softness of a fringe of actual hairs. And have you ever tried a full line of artificial lashes? It looks like leggy caterpillars have parked on your eyelids. ::shudder::
The really odd part (I know, like there needs to be another one?) of being hairless is how you look in photographs. Even if your makeup and “hair” are perfect, there’s a shiny reflectiveness to your skin that the flash creates that strikes me as the real tell-tale of a chemo patient. Because your skin has lost all its hair, including the downy little hairs that cover the skin all over your body, especially your face, the naked skin looks greasy and plastic in pictures. No one warned me about that part: no matter how deft your hand at decoy, the picture tells a thousand words about what’s going on inside.
So now that the lashes/peach fuzz/brows are growing back (yea, shaving!), it’s so much easier to look like a girl. Don’t miss my curls yet, as my wig is so fabulous. But it’s such a delight to have lashes again. Keep your eyes peeled for excessive eyelid batting.