If you’ve ever needed to “wear hair” you know Patti Joyce of Wigs By Patti’s Pearls. Her company stocks all the major brands and she posts youtube videos of herself in all different colours and lengths to show you what they look like.
Patti isn’t the only one doing these videos. You may also know “Taz”, who does great videos, or the CrazyWigLady. There are any number. But I like Patti’s videos best, in part because I’m not actually after a wig. I’m after something else. I don’t know what it is, but Patti’s got it.
Patti completely embodies a kind of “America’s most trusted” personality. She speaks to the camera so naturally that I can pretend she’s speaking to me. She calls me darling, or precious or any of a number of other sweetheart names as though I’m her daughter. And when she says, “Nobody is going to ever guess it’s a wig!” I believe her. Not only about the wig but about all things secret about me. Nobody is ever going to guess when I’m insecure, unsure, self-doubting, nervous because Patti says they won’t.
The woman in the videos, the Patti who I love, tosses on a wig in a little pixie cut. She says, “Isn’t this darling?” and I agree. It’s darling, Patti. It’s like a bowl of tulips on a waxed oak table in a room filled with the scent of baked cookies. She puts on another wig and says, “Here’s what I love! You can do anything you want with this wig!” Anything you want draws me. It makes me think I can do anything I want with all of my life, not just the wig. Then she puts on a wildly curly wig that is perhaps a little “young” for her, and says, “How do I feel in this wig? Like I want to go dancing!” I think, that’s what I want to feel like! I want to want to go dancing. And suddenly I do. Let’s go dancing, Patti! Come on, let’s go right now!
She sees the good in every bad situation. She looks at the shortest hair I’ve ever seen in a wig an tells me (or, really, the camera), “Oh, this is what I call a transition wig! It’s for when you think you won’t grow your hair back but it will!” She’s certain your hair will grow back even though hers did not. “Colon cancer,” she breaths, as though it’s hardly worth mentioning. Just old news and let’s not dwell. There are more important things. This wig, for example, which is “cuuuute!” Running her fingers through the fibers of the wig she says, “I want the wig to move, I want the wig to breathe…”
And just like that she breathes life into that wig. It’s not a wig any longer. It’s Patti, infused with good vibes, positive juice, energy galore. Patti is a cheerleader for those who’ve lost a lot – through cancer or chemo or alopecia or just plain bad luck. She’s a cheerleader for the distressed, a confidence-giver for the ashamed, a mother for those of us who are motherless.
I watch her videos just to cheer myself up and…wait for it…I don’t even wear wigs. Now, you might ask how on earth I know anything about Patti if I don’t wear wigs and you’d be right that nobody is going to float about on a wig website watching somebody – even somebody as charming as Patti – talk about this cute pixie, or that adorable bob, if they don’t have at least a passing interest in wigs.
So let me explain that I’ve had a little issue with alopecia areata since I was thirteen years old. Back then, I lost a quarter-sized patch of hair for no reason anyone understood. One day I had a full head of hair, the next I didn’t. The scalp was smooth and white, apparently normal. I spent months in junior high hiding my bald spot, waiting in agony for my hair to grow back, which it did. Slowly, aggravatingly, millimetre by millimetre. I was lucky. Many people with alopecia areata never grow back their hair at all.
Since then, I’ve had a few episodes of hair loss (and regain). It’s always distressing. The last one was about ten years ago and involved a heck of a lot of hair loss that went on for a long time. My hair, well past my shoulders, went from normal to thin in about two weeks and stayed like that for months. None of my medical tests showed anything signficiant so I cut my hair short, used mousse and thickening shampoos and even bought a device that stimulated hair growth. None of these things appeared to work.
That’s when I took a serious interest in wigs. And while I didn’t wear a wig daily, I often did if I was going out or wanted to look my best. I took heart from Patti at Patti’s Pearls and Kathy Tonkin at Gallery of Wigs, and anyone else I could find. And then, as these things often do, the problem resolved. My hair grew back. It may not be as thick as it used to be but it’s thick enough. The photo of me with my little lamb, Buttons, is my natural hair. Well, natural texture and thickness. The colour is all henna.
But I detract from Patti, who makes wearing wigs seem fun (and it turns out wigs are fun) and calls me (or any viewer), “darling” and “pet” and makes me feel like I matter. Not just me but all my tiny grievances with the world, including my finicky hair.
It’s her joy. It’s her absolutely joy that does it. I want to buy that joy and fly it across the Atlantic and fill myself up with it. I want Patti to talk to me about wigs or hair or anything else that strikes her fancy. I’m sure there’s another side to someone as successful in business as Patti is, but I like to think of her just as I see her, trying on wigs straight out of the box and turning to the camera to say, “Isn’t this adorable?” so I can nod and agree and tell her yes it is. And yes you are.