Crowning Glory

An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise

Non-Fiction - Memoir
276 Pages
Reviewed on 03/02/2016
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Author Biography

Stacy Harshman lives and works in Manhattan’s East Village. After a midwestern childhood in a family of designers, antique dealers, and equestrians, Stacy traveled extensively before finding a home where she belongs, in New York City. Always driven toward creative expression, Stacy writes fiction, memoir and essays, and has written and recorded five albums of original music.

Her passion for color and pattern led to the launch of Andarina Designs, a custom lighting design company. Stacy is inspired by women all over the world, working in community partnerships to produce beautiful and sustainable work. Currently, her favored form of expression is mixed media painting-collages. She devotes her time to animals, and the healing arts.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Faridah Nassozi for Readers' Favorite

"I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am a soul that lives within." India Arie's words have never rung louder in my mind than when I was reading Crowning Glory: An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise by Stacy Harshman. Stacy's inner struggles mainly manifested through severe hatred towards her natural hair so she decided to wear a wig for a change. After a brief experiment with a red wig and seeing how people's reactions towards her changed, she decided to take it to the next level and experiment with different wig colours. For the next five weeks, she was to transform into a redhead, a brunette, a blonde, a black-tressed woman, and then back to her natural hair for the final week. With the help of an assistant, she would record the reaction of the people around her and in the end compare notes on which look got the most reaction from people. The experiment ended with some very surprising results and became a turning point in dealing with her deep-rooted inner struggles.

Crowning Glory: An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise by Stacy Harshman is a touching memoir detailing a personal journey towards healing a deeply troubled soul. This is not your everyday memoir; it is deep, fresh and fun to read. Although Stacy's experiment was with her hair, it speaks to so much more than just hair; sometimes healing the outside might be just what we need to heal and transform our inner selves. Feeling good on the outside might just be the trick to unleashing your positive energy. At first the idea of self-discovery through experimenting with wigs might seem bizarre and borderline ridiculous, but once you get inside Stacy's mind and understand the demons that reside there, you will understand how something like this could have such profound results.

Deborah Lloyd

Crowning Glory: An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise is a “one of a kind” book, just as the author Stacy Harshman is one of a kind! On a whim, she bought her first red long-haired wig on the Internet. She was stunned by the attention she received whenever she went out with her new red hair. This led her to an interesting experiment of recording reactions of people to her while wearing different-colored wigs. Soon, she hired a field research assistant, Bonnie, and the research began. Stacy developed a personality and name for each wig: Kali Amsterdam was the redhead; Nada Jolie was black haired; Raya Mer was the blonde; and Paula Isla was a brunette. The adventures began as she and Bonnie strolled through the streets, restaurants and bars of Manhattan.

The book is much more than a mere experiment; it is also the story of Stacy’s healing. As a woman who struggled with bipolar disorder and its aftermath of insecurities and anxieties, this experiment revealed to her the real strengths she possessed. Stacy is an excellent writer as she is able to transition smoothly from the multiple reactions (both positive and negative) from other people to her new looks, to how this affected her emotions, and her personal relationships. Crowning Glory: An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise is an intriguing work. It may challenge a reader to look at their own masks, the things they wear or do to develop a particular image to the outside world. This is a book one will not soon forget.

Sarah Stuart

Stacy Harshman’s Crowning Glory: An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise is beautifully illustrated with colour photographs. These show her in various wigs, which is what the experiment involved. It began because she had thin, dull fair hair she felt so badly about that it caused her to have panic attacks, and finally pushed her over the edge into deep depression. The first wig had such an impact that Stacy decided to hire a spy, Bonnie, to follow her around New York and note people’s reactions to different coloured wigs. During the final week, the experiment “control,” Bonnie observed reactions to Stacy without a wig. The book follows the plan daily, divided into weekly chapters; it is very detailed, recording both onlookers’ reactions and Stacy’s feelings as she fights to regain her sanity.

Stacy Harshman had me laughing from the start of Crowning Glory: An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise. The descriptions were so vivid that I could empathise with enticing internet access, sleepless at three in the morning, when she impulse-bought her first wig, and feel the horse’s mane on my hands. When it came to a man pleading with red-wigged “Kari” to take her home with him, I got hiccups. There is a very serious side to this book and it is explored in depth; Stacy was severely depressed. But have you ever wondered what might happen if you're wearing a wig in a crowded subway carriage when people pushed to get off? Moments like that make the story funny and easy to read. Being worth reading too, as an inspiration never to give up, makes this book a winner and one I shall treasure.