I've always hated the word "bald." To me "bald" is a bad word. How many people really wish to be bald? You don't often hear someone talk about bald in a positive sense like, "You'll really like him because he's bald!" No, you would either say, "Well you might like him, but yeah, well, he's bald, but did I mention he's also rich?"
Most guys know that women are attracted to men who are "tall, dark and handsome and have a full head of hair." At least that's what we grew up thinking. Who told us? Women? Men? Our friends? Our enemies? Everyone? Even infomercials?
Bald is the butt of jokes. You can't publicly make fun of someone fat and have it be politically acceptable. But those who are bald, or balding, have been fair game to endless pranks and public ridicule. I grew up in the 1970s watching Benny Hill make fun of his little bald sidekick Jackie Wright. All 4'11" of him. The list goes on ...
Bozo was bald. I never considered that a look to which I would aspire. Sure, he was funny. But dressed as a clown, pretty much anyone can be funny. Even Willard Scott, the original Bozo, could pull it off. Ronald McDonald was a clown with hair. And he was funny.
Well ... sure ... it was a bright red wig! And under the wig it was a balding, yes you guessed it, the same Willard Scott.
I started "balding" at age nineteen. See, that is the perfect way to use "bald" or "balding" in a sentence. There's nothing positive about it. I was balding. Something was happening and, believe me, the first thing I did upon this realization was not call my friends or throw a large party.
One does not celebrate balding. If Hallmark doesn't make any warm and fuzzy cards to purchase, you know something is amiss (though maybe cards with hair falling out when you open them would get a laugh -- of course -- but not from the afflicted). I was a victim. Maybe genetics. Probably genetics. If it was anything short of that, say diet or allergic reaction to my laundry detergent, I tried to find the remedy. I didn't speak to my mother for a week (I heard it comes from the maternal side of the family).
Balding is bad. Bald is not something someone wishes upon their kid: "Oh I hope he grows up to be tall and bald." Never heard it.
George Costanza, played by a balding Jason Alexander, is bald. Larry David playing Larry David is bald. On his show "Curb your Enthusiasm" he plays a bald guy convincingly. But Larry David, on his show, as Larry David, even spells out one important difference to a cop, played by a black actor with a head he shaves voluntarily. After being a victim of a supposed "hate crime" where teenagers toilet-papered his house and wrote "bald asshole" on his garage door, Larry David "corrects" the cop after he says he's bald and doesn't see the graffiti as a hate crime: "With all due respect Officer Berg, you are not bald. Ok, you have chosen to shave your hair. That is a look you are cultivating to be fashionable, and we don't really consider you a part of the bald community. With all due respect."
It's an interesting argument and one I've had many years since inventing a shaving device called the HeadBlade and starting a company devoted to this niche with other products for -- dare I say it -- head-shavers, not bald men. I make products for head-shavers. And that includes both groups.
Balding is passive. Shaving is active. Once you shave your head, you are not balding; you are either shaved, or bald. With a shaved head, in my mind, the table turns from victim to victor!
Think of Michael Chiklis and the change in look and dynamic when he went from balding ("The Commish") to shaved ("The Shield"). What a transformation! I'm not saying Larry David with a shaved head will be our next action hero, but I'm still holding out hope.
So, What is the verdict? Is "bald" the same as "shaved," or are they two entirely different beasts?
And maybe you wonder why, 10 years after creating the HeadBlade head shaver, am I bringing to light the difference? GQ has come out with "GQ's 2010 Bald 100: The Most Powerful Bald Men in America." To my knowledge this is the first such list compiled and published. I'm on the list.
And so is Larry David.
P.S. Want to see what you would look like shaved? Check out our free iPhone app here.