By Gareth Axenderrie
“Hey, can I ask you a question? How are you so bald?”
That question came in a lecture during the second week of freshers last year. I must admit, I was a little taken aback. I didn’t really know how to answer. I’m bald because my hair doesn’t grow anymore, not on all my head anyway. It’s not something that dawns on me too often, not often enough to pluck up an answer out of thin air anyway.
Coincidently, the person who asked the question has become a very close friend of mine. I now realise that as I sat there with the lights of the lecture theatre shining off my hairless bonce, a bald person in a lecture theatre stands out amongst the freshest fades and weaves of fresher hipsterdom.
I’m a mature student, but I started losing my hair when I was a teenager. That’s pretty early for a guy, even if the rest of his family are as bald as a bunch of coots. It’s not an issue for me now, I don’t realise I don’t have hair anymore. I did once have luscious blonde curly locks, but I would now argue that I have more confidence than I have ever had, and the savings I make on shampoo and conditioner go straight into the beer fund!
That said, I had a genuine battle with myself when I first started to notice that hairline receding. School is always a place where peers can be judgemental, and ‘banter’ can often be hurtful. It’s also a place where you naturally compare yourself to your mates. Many of mine loved to surf, and their hair was stereotypically long and curly with sun-bleached tips.
When you realise you’re developing the ‘M-head’, that your scalp is starting to show through your thinning hair, or your crown starts to become more and more sparse, it’s extremely self-esteem sapping. You become extremely self-conscious, constantly checking what your hair looks like in mirrors, and it can become all encompassing.
Pattern male baldness is a natural, hereditary condition however, and for countless men it’s simply inevitable. So, should we worry about it? Should we try to fight it? Or should we just take the plunge, shave it off, and embrace it?
Of course, that is totally up to you. You may be completely comfortable rocking the combover, or not really give a damn, but if hair loss is worrying you, I’d argue you’d be happier embracing it.
This sentiment also appears to be shared by a sizeable portion of students. In a survey conducted by Gair Rhydd, 75% of respondents said they would consider dating a bald guy in university, with over 80% saying they would be unperturbed if their future partner didn’t have hair. Furthermore, 87% of students surveyed said they preferred a bald head to somebody ‘fighting baldness’.
When listing traits they prioritise in men, respondents ranked hair style a low ninth out of ten choices, with only a like for dogs and cats ranking lower. It appears that people care far more about personality, sense of humour and emotional availability than how many active follicles there are on your head.
So, you see, losing your hair may feel like the end of the world to you, but to others, it’s something so minor it hardly registers on their radars. If you’re worrying about it, my advice would be stop. Head to your nearest barbers, ask them for a haircut that suits your hair type. Or, even better, grab a razor and shave it off. Accepting what you consider a weakness can often be the most empowering act of all. Plus, you’ll save a fortune on haircuts and shampoo, and you may even make new friends who just want to get to know ‘that bald guy’.