Fans of the popular US TV show ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ recently enjoyed a dramatic scene as the fierce lawyer, Annalise Keating, played by Viola Davis, pulled off her wig to reveal her natural hair and took off her make-up, exposing herself. Oscar-nominated Davis, who has admitted to wearing wigs to conceal her own Alopecia Areata, fought for the wig reveal scene to be included.
Removing the mask – a TV first
Wearing a wig or weave is a reality for thousands of women, to cover hair loss or simply to meet a perceived standards of beauty. But Davis’ character removes her ‘mask’ on screen to reveal her character’s vulnerability and true identity. In the show Davis plays law professor Annalise Keating, a strong, beautiful woman whose public persona is a lie; carefully coiffed and polished in comparison to the ‘real’ her. The actress felt it was incredibly important to include the scene where Annalise removes her wig, saying:
“I pushed for that to happen. I said, she’s not going to bed with her wig on. It could be powerful and liberating, but she’s got to take her wig off.
Because who Annalise is in public is a big fat lie, and we have to see her taking off the armour, which is so thick, it becomes all the more dramatic when she removes it, and you see all the pain.
Annalise Keating is all over the place… She wears a heavy duty mask every day, which must be exhausting. I couldn’t do it.”
This dramatic scene which inspired a wealth of global media coverage from the Daily Mail to the Wall Street Journal, was something Davis had in mind right from the start. She explains,
“When I first read the script, I was so excited, because it was my idea that I pitched to [series creator] Peter Nowalk before I even took the job. I said, “The only way I can play someone this hard is for something to be peeled away each week, and the first thing that needs to go is the wig.”
I just wanted to deal with her hair. It’s a big thing with African-American women, in a way that’s far more complicated than I can possibly tell you… You start when you’re just a young girl. Do you twist it? Do you leave it natural when it’s so hard to take care of? Then you start wearing wigs but every night before bed you’ve got to take the wig off and deal with your hair underneath. And it’s a part of Annalise that I needed the writers to deal with because I’ve never seen it, ever, on TV and I thought it would be very powerful. It’s part of her mask.”
On the subject of Annalise’s wig, the actress who debuted her own natural hair at the 2012 Academy Awards instead of wearing one of her ‘Red Carpet wigs’, says: “It makes Annalise feel that she can be accepted, in a way that she doesn’t feel like she can be when she wears her own hair. I personally no longer feel that way.”
Accepting hair loss in changing times
The powerful scene showed the courage many women express by revealing their natural hair – whether it’s short and fine, long and flowing or thinning. Interestingly, US reports suggest the trend for hair weaves – which can lead to Traction Alopecia, a hair loss condition caused by tension on the hair – and wigs is now being shunned by numbers of African American women, who are looking for easy-to-wear, natural hairstyles that complement their lifestyles. The cultural ‘shame’ associated with sporting a bald head or thinning hair is no longer accepted by many modern black women.
Whilst wigs can help women (and men) to regain their confidence after experiencing hair loss, the courage to stand up and embrace baldness and your natural self is something to be applauded. However, it is not something everyone feels comfortable with. For those whose hair loss condition is reversible, following a professionally recommended hair loss treatment programme recommended by a specialist may help to regrow natural hair. You can find a number of photographic examples and testimonials from Belgravia patients who have seen promising results from treatment in our Hair Loss Success Stories gallery, as well as on our Traction Alopecia and Alopecia Areata Treatment pages.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.
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