Miss Wiggy

As a little girl growing up in the Upper Peninsula, my opportunities for glamour were scarce.

Accordingly, some of my earliest beauty icons were fairy-tale princesses, Ginger from "Gilligan’s Island" and the high-cheekboned vixens who got to kiss Davy Jones during each rerun of "The Monkees." One thing they all had in common was fabulous hair – long, spiraling tendrils, sultry movie-star coifs or hip shags – the makings of a dream girl.

Knowing my stubby pigtails weren’t getting me anywhere, I became entranced with the old brown wig my mother owned then, although God knows why. Short, unruly and the color of a mouse’s coat, it looked like it wanted to escape from its Styrofoam head and scuttle out into the backyard.

But to me it held the promise of TV starlethood – and possibly Davy Jones. Stealing into my mother’s room, I took the forlorn wig from its roost and, lipstick in hand, proceeded to pull it over my head, barely able to contain my excitement. But there I was, chubby-faced, smeared with coral lipstick and engulfed by an enormous poofy mass of synthetic hair, no cheekbones in sight. What a letdown.

Twenty-odd years later, I still feel the pull of fantasy when I encounter a wig, although my expectations are, thankfully, somewhat lower. Exploring Kim’s Style (9721 Joseph Campau) in Hamtramck, I recently experienced another bout of wig-induced frenzy. The well-stocked shelves feature everything from long lavender or cherry-red styles and platinum bobs to ornate updos worthy of Priscilla Presley.

After scoping out a few choice items, I underwent a series of hair transformations, each one shocking in its own way. In mere moments I switched from my (semi)natural red state to black-and-cranberry-streaked Morticia-esque vampiness and on to pale blond with highlights.

The black wig was a keeper, and I eagerly shelled out $24.99 for what I vowed would not remain a Halloween item. I envisioned wearing my new purchase not only to clubs on the weekend but grocery shopping, out for a drive, maybe even to work (they already think I’m weird, so no harm done). Any time I feel like a little change.

Down the street at Kim’s Beauty Supply (9821 Joseph Campau), I scored another find. A full-on, long, auburn "I Dream of Jeannie" ponytail. This one was such a beauty that I put it on right away and didn’t take it off until it started to droop hours later. Will I wear it again? Damn straight.

I still may not have cheekbones and am more apt to dream about, say, Johnny Depp these days than Davy Jones, but my wig-hunting excursion was just plain fun and convinced me that, in this age of baring it all, we could do with a little more artifice, at least in the hairstyle department.

My new wig advocacy plan hinges on what drag queens, country music singers and televangelists have known for years – that a little drama (and outrageous hair) never hurt anyone.

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