Two Bollywood films were in the news recently over the clash of release dates. Both films deal with the sensitive issue of premature balding in men.
All the quotes on vanity and women seem to ignore the fact that men are just as susceptible to hair problems. It was in the 1980s that I began to notice that a lot of men had problems with receding hairlines and, worse, bald patches. What was more painful was the vain attempt to cover up by carefully combing what little was left to hide the gaps.
As the problem of sparse hair persisted, advertisements for hair transplants started appearing in publications with ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures. These ads always caught my eye as the person in the pictures seemed to have undergone a dramatic facial transformation as well. Was it the same person, I would ask myself.
Bald men are often seen as more successful and dominant than those with lush locks, several studies have found
Then, suddenly, there was a change in perception and attitude. As the follicle-challenged men became younger and younger, they decided enough was enough. Instead of trying to hide the fact that they were losing hair, they began shaving their heads completely.
This was a risk as not everyone has a well-shaped head. One of my nephews proudly sports a bald pate and says he decided to come clean when he realised that there was nothing as pathetic as a grown-up man trying desperately to cover swathes of bare scalp with a few strands of hair.
There are many men in their early twenties who are discovering that they are suffering from problems that they have seen their older relatives struggle with. But they are willing to confront reality and embrace their baldness. And there are quite a few celebrities with shiny pates who serve as role models.
One young man is even happy to flaunt a bald head after he was told that he resembles the famous football coach Pep Guardiola!
Male-pattern baldness is striking younger says a hair transplant surgeon, and he attributes this to higher levels of pollution, pesticides in fruits and vegetables and stress.
Just as grief has several stages such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, hair loss can affect men in similar ways. These are furious denial, frantic rescue operations and, finally, resignation.
Flaunt it anyway
I am impressed by the bald and bold who believe in the maxim, ‘if you don’t have it, flaunt it anyway’. It takes some guts to acknowledge a lack of something so closely tied to one’s feeling of self-worth.
Taking this one step further is a 49-year-old entrepreneur from the state of Kerala who has got together a group of baldheaded men to fight the big bad world of bald shaming. What started as a small WhatsApp group has now embraced Malayali men in various stages of baldness from across the world.
Their intention is to chalk out strategies to deal with bald teasing by the hirsute and stop the mushrooming of spurious remedies which do more harm than good.
The founder of this group recounts how he was moved by the stories of bald men experiencing the trauma of not just losing their hair but also being subjected to taunts and insults. To all the follicle challenged men out there, here’s some something to cheer about.
Bald men are often seen as more successful and dominant than those with lush locks, several studies have found. There is one catch though — men only appear more attractive if they are completely hairless. As for men with bald spots … not so much!
— Vanaja Rao is a freelance writer based in Hyderabad, India.