I have alopecia areata. Well, technically I have alopecia universalis, since I lose my hair not only on my head, but my body as well. It’s patchy, not complete, so I do have random spots of hair on my head and on my body. For instance, I have half of one eyebrow and eyelashes on one eye (not the same eyes, fortunately.) I wear a wig most days of the week (date night plus all the work week days.) But wigs, even really good wigs like the one I’m getting tomorrow – human hair, professionally styled, $2,000 wigs – they’re itchy. They’re not terribly comfortable. Hats are pretty comfortable, and they offer me the chance to change things up without people looking at me too oddly. If you change your wig up – you have to be prepared to talk about your hair loss, which generally goes something like this:
Q: “Your hair is different. Longer than yesterday.”
A. “It’s not my real hair. But I don’t have cancer.”
The first or second thing out of my mouth is the big caveat: I don’t have cancer. I’m not sick. But, also with that, usually unsaid, I’m not well, either. Because if you’re well, your hair doesn’t fall out. But it’s not catching and I’m not going to die (well, all that inflammation from an autoimmune diseases will kill me, but slowly and over a long period of time.)
But hats, well, you can get away with a hat, particularly if you had very short hair as I did, prior, as most hats covered my hair anyway. You can change your hat every day if you like. And since it’s fall, coming on into winter, I have six months of no one looking twice at my hats, even indoors.
I decided to make some hats – I’m a decent seamstress, and a slow but capable knitter. And then I decided that since I liked the variety and fun of hats, maybe other women who also lost their hair (presumably to cancer, but not always) they might want some hats too. There are a lot of chemo hats project, but you generally look like you’re wearing a chemo cap. I want to make actual hats – some winter-hat style: beret, stocking cap, beanie, slouch, snood and newsboy. I also want to make some structured hats that are in style: fedora, cloche, wide brim (for summer and the tropics) and safari (with tails for sun protection.)
Two Hats Project
For every hat, Buff and head cover I make or buy, I will make or buy another to donate.
This act of giving is my way of acknowledging my disease, helping someone else through theirs. A cancer patient will get their hair back long before I will, and unless their disease returns, they won’t ever wear a wig again. Mine will likely come out of remission several more times in my life.
I’m starting this week with the Two Hats Project by making berets, the classic chic hat, worn by both women (think Parisian chic) and men (think Green Beret, the Marines and Scottish Highlanders.) They’re fantastically fun to sew, they sew up in about ten minutes each and with a wider band as I make them, suitable for those that have lost all of their hair.