Under My Wig

It may seem odd to learn that I am building myself quite the collection of wigs.

Or maybe that doesn’t seem odd at all, given my theatrical pursuits. It’s almost inevitable, when you contemplate the number of B’way musicals that take place in various historical times and places. Cross-reference that against my stubborn insistence that I don’t feel like myself without a super-short pixie cut, and wigs become de riguer for faking my way into the settings of most musicals. 1920s, 1860s, 1890s…they all require wigs.

Luckily enough, I’m able to recycle some of these for different shows: the top record thus far is 1 wig that has been used for 3 different shows set in the 19th century. I haven’t even bothered to take it out of its snood between productions. Still, new roles and new concepts mean I keep adding to the collection here and there.

So maybe this growing wig collection of mine strikes you as odd, dear reader, or maybe it doesn’t. What I know for damn sure is that this growing wig collection strikes me as somewhat ridiculous.

I sometimes refer to myself as a “fake girl.” It’s kind of a joke, but it’s kind of not. I grew up wearing Toughskin boy’s jeans—little-girl jeans could not hold up to me—and playing with Tonka trucks.

Nowadays, as I approach my dotage, I keep going back to that super-short haircut because I am pretty much hopeless when it comes to styling my hair.

I’m equally in the dark (maybe even more so?) when it comes to modern innovations in makeup. I stopped wearing makeup some few years ago, and the universe of cosmetics has changed since I was last paying attention. When did the simplicity of wearing blush get replaced with blush and contour and highlighting? I’ve started buying some cool makeup in hopes of getting back into the fun of this medium of self-expression, but so far I’m entirely ham-handed about it all.

So yeah….the quantity of wigs and makeup I’ve been acquiring during the years of my renewed theatrical “career” do feel awfully ridiculous to me, when I consider my extreme ineptitude in both these realms.

Carnival Colorful Wigs Dress Costume

Which brings me back to all my complicated, contradictory feelings on seeing the gorgeousness of Lola and her Angels in Kinky Boots. At some level, however embarrassing it is to admit this, and however reductive a construct of gender I’m falling into by feeling this way, I am god-damned intimidated by how much better drag queens are at being feminine than I am.

I know, I know: given my level of societal safety and privilege as a cis-het woman, it is a bit ridiculous for me to be all whiny and jealous about this. But that’s the ugly truth of my insecurities. I’ve never thought of myself as objectively, conventionally attractive. Yeah, I can believe that my big heart and positive energy create some level of charisma for me. But regular attractiveness? Nope. Especially since I don’t know any of the artful ways to use hair-styling and cosmetics to bring myself closer to the traditional standard of beauty.

So however much I loved the show and its message, I also walked out of the theater feeling like I’d seen yet another few evidence points to add to the long list of ways I don’t measure up as a woman.

Considering the intentional effort I’m putting into discovering and honoring my femininity this year, that’s almost tragic in its level of irony.

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Image credit: Max Pixel, public domain.

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