Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wiggy -- Day 2/313

Walk: Legion of Honor Lecture (Power Dressing)
Distance: 1 mile and small home yoga practice

 There's  a scene toward the end of the movie Lincoln where Tommy Lee Jones playing Thaddeus Stevens comes home, takes off his dark brown wig and we see he is entirely bald.  Until today I took this to mean Stevens was either much older or sicker than we realized.  And that may in fact be the point.

Or not.  Except in the legal profession, the wearing of wigs by men was pretty much out of fashion by the time of the Emancipation Proclamation.  But - being a true character - Stevens could still have chosen to wear one.  Indeed he may have been bald, but, it was also common for men who wore wigs to shave their heads - wigs then being an all or nothing proposition.  Our first five presidents from Washington to Monroe wore (powdered) wigs; I don't know if they shaved their heads.

Wig powder was made of starch and could be scented with essences such as lavender, but I doubt scents were used in the proudly plain United States.  On the continent wig powder often served to protect men from infestation by lice and, in general, the white powder was thought to confer sagacity and maturity as well as social status.

There is a long history of wigs going back to ancient countries and then coming in and out of fashion.  But, whenever wigs were in fashion, they were only worn by the upper ranks and classes as symbols of their station.  Women rarely wore full wigs but, instead, worked extensions of various shapes and fullness into their natural hair.  A notable exception is Queen Elizabeth I, who wore a very red wig covered with tight curls.  Ciwt does not know if she shaved her head.

All this wig wearing - even by some fighting men - rather fascinates ciwt who actually owns one.  She can't get around to wearing it though.  For thing, the way wigs are made requires that the entire head cap be covered with hair (otherwise you would see the fabric), and the attachment point of each strand is bulky.  So wigs tend to be ultra/unnaturally-for-many/ciwt thick, and the hair doesn't begin falling directly at the cap because of the bulk.  (If you see a TV anchor whose hair begins about 1/2" above his/her head, you can be sure they are wearing a wig or fall.  And these days you see that a lot).  Anyway, wig hair is often long and in need of cutting which presents a couple of problems: 1. hardly any hairdresser knows how to work with wigs and 2. there's little wiggle room for exposing the cap/ruining the wearability of the wig.  Finally, wigs are hot, heavy and itch.

  End of first/maybe last CIWT lesson on wigs....


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