Wig shop near Beijing cancer hospital offers solace for local patients
The wig maker
Published: May 02, 2018 05:18 PM

Wang Feng helps his customer try out a new custom-made wig at his store in Beijing's Haidian district. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Wang Feng and his assistant design a wig. Photo: Li Hao/GT

A woman trying on a wig looks at the mirror. Photo: Li Hao/GT

A customer selects wigs at Wang's store. Photo: Li Hao/GT

To the west of Beijing Cancer Hospital in Haidian district sits Wang Feng's wig shop.

The room is packed with wigs, shelved against three walls. Some are for customers to try out; some are custom made and awaiting their owners.

These wigs were made mostly for cancer patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy. The store is quite famous among their circles.

Wang opened his shop more than 20 years ago. Back then, it was a regular barber shop. Because of the location, sometimes patients would come into the store and ask Wang to trim their wigs, which were made from synthetic fibers.

Gradually, Wang found that these patients desired wigs that were more realistic and closer to how their hair looked before.

He taught himself how to design and make wigs, using human hair instead of synthetic materials. It took him years to learn, and also to pinpoint a reliable source to purchase real hair and a factory to cooperate with.

Wang eventually gave up the barber shop to focus on making wigs. His customers primarily consist of cancer patients. They wear his wigs to maintain their self-dignity and confidence, Wang said. His shop has also turned into a gathering place for local patients.

While the Global Times was interviewing Wang, a woman surnamed Zhao stepped into the store. She told Wang she was referred to him by a friend and wanted a custom-made wig based on an old photo.

She used to sing in a choir but stopped going after she had her head shaved for chemotherapy. She took out her phone and showed Wang a picture from when she was healthy, with short curls dyed reddish-blonde.

"They have the desire to not change themselves, to live as they did before [they became ill]," Wang said. "I didn't understand this, but now I do. Some of them break out crying when they first see the wig and thank me from the bottom of their hearts. These things make me feel it's worth doing what I do."