I've been completely bald since I was nineteen. If you're worried about thinning in your forties, imagine that as a teenager.
For whatever reason, my hair started to go really early; a student friend suggested that he could trim it to a grade three or so to cover it up. Unfortunately, he wasn't an experienced hairdresser and accidentally took the lot off.
Turns out it was a good thing, although I won't pretend I was delighted at the time. Here's what I learned:
- So much better than the alternative. For over a decade, I've had the chance to witness others slowly losing their hair, and their increasingly comical attempts to fight the inevitable. Occasionally, I've been sunburned or whatever and had to let my own grow for a week. Trust me: you'll soon prefer a clean shave and come to retch at the thought of anything else:
Don't try this at home, kids (and yes, that's John McCain).
- Badge of distinction. With time, what might seem like a curse can become something you're proud of. You'll stand out. You've outgrown the petty concerns of tending to your hair - you face the world without it and you kick its hairy ass.
- Some women love it. Most women are just indifferent. And the few who are really against it? Forget 'em. There's plenty of others out there with better taste. I'm sure even Vin Diesel got rejected once:
(Just kidding, Vin. Don't hurt me).
- Times have changed. In my experience, younger people approve more. The few dissenting voices I heard were universally from sixty plus year old bald men who preferred to keep their tufts sprouting at the sides. Generally not a group I'd want to take fashion advice from.
- You age more slowly. I look almost the same now as my twelve year old passport photo. Our hair dates us, and the absence of it seems to throw most people's senses out. For example:
(Correct answer, youngest to oldest: 3, 4, 2, 1. I was thirty three in the oldest and twenty four in the youngest. 1 is the poutiest. I apologise).
- Conveys maturity and attitude. I was once young and looking to be taken seriously. Aged twenty one, the people I would pitch business to thought I was twenty seven. Combined with a strong personally, I think being bald adds to your confidence. You think Patrick Stewart looks half as badass with flowing locks?
- Climate. You're a little more exposed to the hot and cold, but it's rarely a problem. Don't, however, do what I did, and spend a day unprotected in the African savanna. My skin was so seared it essentially liquified for days. You'll catch sun much quicker at the top of your head than anywhere else.
Now, are there times in the last fourteen years when I've thought it would be nice to have hair? Of course. We all occasionally long to fit whatever archetype society encourages us to believe is 'perfect' from time to time.
But that's never a choice that is laid before us. Our choice is how to make the best of what we are. If you're thinning on top, shaving your head is absolutely the best way to embrace that change and make the best of it. And speaking personally, I'm hugely grateful I discovered this so early.More questions on Hair Loss and Baldness: