DEAR AMY: I am an attractive 70-year-young woman who has been going to a therapist for two years for depression. The depression is much better now. However, I have been gradually losing my hair. I come from a family of women with thinning hair, and my mother and grandmother both wore wigs as older women.
After much soul-searching, research and trial-and-error, I bought a very realistic silver-gray wig and started wearing it.
It looks great. My sister didn't even realize it was a wig. People just say that my hair looks good. I am divorced and trying online dating, so I feel I need all the help and confidence I can get. Believe me, my wig doesn't look like Dolly Parton's big hair.
I've observed that it is acceptable for men to have thinning (or no) hair, but not women.
This week — out of the blue — my therapist told me I was "wearing a mask for society." When I asked what she meant by that, she said she was referring to my wig and that my own hair wasn't that bad.
Now I'm wondering if I am hiding my real self by wearing a wig.
Any comments from you or your readers?
— Reluctant Wig-wearer
DEAR RELUCTANT: In my view, if you went into your therapist's office with your depression under control and sporting a full Dolly Parton wig and outfit — and if you reported that you felt good about it — your therapist should pronounce you 100 percent awesome.
Your therapist's role is to help you to explore your motivations, actions and reactions, and help you face the consequences of your choices. It is appropriate for your therapist to ask you to reflect on why you are choosing to wear a wig, but not to judge its aesthetics — or to say that your own hair "wasn't that bad" — unless you specifically asked for her feedback (in which case you could expect her to be thoughtful, respectful and completely frank).
We all wear "masks for society." If you know that what's beneath your wig is acceptable and authentic but you prefer to wear it because you like the way you look and feel when you're wearing it, then I'd say you're making the right choice. I'll welcome reader reactions.
DEAR AMY: I am a woman in her mid-40s who divorced five years ago. I have recently started dating for the first time in many years. What is the proper protocol for who pays the dinner bill on a first date with someone I've met through an online service like Match.com?
— Dating Again
DEAR DATING: If you and your prospective date mutually agree to go out for a meal, you should split the check. If you invite someone to dinner and choose the restaurant, you should offer to pick up the check after the meal.
Online matching is great, and I highly recommend it as a good way to get out there and meet new people. But the preferable first date for someone you've never met in person is coffee or lunch, rather than an evening meal.
If you meet for coffee, you and your date don't have to invest the extensive time and expense that a dinner would require. A daytime date gives you both the opportunity for an in-person conversation, without the pressure of a dinner date and wrangling over the check.
DEAR AMY: I used to think like "Of Sound Mind" when I was her age. At 17, she felt certain she would never want to have children.
I'm glad I didn't make any permanent choices at that age. Now I am 29, pregnant with our second child and very happy about it.
Please tell this young woman that I respect her for knowing what she wants right now, but that her dreams don't have to be sacrificed when you choose to start a family. There's plenty of room for both children and ambition.
— Working Mom
DEAR MOM: "Of Sound Mind" might actually never change her mind about the decision to bear children, but I agree that as a teenager she isn't old enough to make a permanent, irreversible choice.