Bald men have known from the dawn of time that being ‘follicly challenged’ isn’t always easy. Take the nicknames, for starters; ‘baldy’ and ‘slaphead’ are two of the most widely used terms to describe bald men. Sometimes these are used as part of light-hearted banter. At other times, they’re used to insult and offend.
Women are sometimes affected, too. Chris Rock’s ill-considered remarks about Jada Pinkett Smith at this year’s Oscar Awards are one high-profile example. More often, however, it is men who are on the receiving end. Indeed, a UK employment tribunal ruled recently that calling a man ‘bald’ is sex-related harassment, a sure sign that bald-shaming is more a problem for men than women.
But it’s not just the name-calling that’s the problem. There is evidence that being bald can influence someone’s perception of you and not always in a positive way. Read on to find out more!
Perceptions of Others
Research undertaken by the University of Otago in New Zealand has shown how hair, or the lack of it, can shape other people’s perceptions. The results make for depressing reading for those with bald or shaved heads. Men with hair are perceived as being younger, healthier, smarter and generally more attractive than their bald peers. They’re also perceived as being more likely to make better leaders. The study shows that bald men are perceived as more masculine and dominant than men with hair, but many bald men may feel that those qualities aren’t as appealing as those attributed to men with a full head of hair.
The academics responsible for the research stressed that their work wasn’t about determining attractiveness or uncovering the ‘best’ look for the male of the species. Rather, it was about demonstrating that people’s decisions about who might make the best leader are often based on superficial notions and unconscious biases. That’s bad news if you happen to be a bald politician!
Perceptions of Ourselves
Whether it’s the name calling or the academic research, the cues that men pick up about baldness are mostly negative. This undoubtedly colours how an individual feels about himself when he experiences hair loss. It should be no surprise, therefore, that hair loss is often associated with a loss of self-esteem and self-confidence in the individual experiencing it. In some cases, this can even lead to clinical depression.
The evidence for this isn’t just anecdotal. Research confirming the psychological effect a bad hair day can have on both men and women has been around for many years. Yale professor Marianne LaFrance led a study that demonstrated how unhappiness with one’s hair resulted in a decline in self-confidence and a rise in self-criticism. Given that sustained hair loss and baldness represent the ultimate in bad hair days, bald men may be prone to this kind of negative thinking.
So, how does a man experiencing hair loss and baldness escape the feelings of low self-esteem and prevent baldness from negatively affecting his life? Much depends on the individual. If you’re the type who finds the positives in every situation, you might look at the emerging academic evidence and decide that, actually, it’s not that bad. Some of the perceived differences in the University of Otago study between men with hair and men with shaved or bald heads were really quite small; the difference it made when it came to estimating age, for example, was only two years at most. If you’re happy with other aspects of your appearance, that kind of difference may not bother you too much.
If your hair is more important to you, however, then there are other routes you can take. Hair loss can be stopped and even reversed in many cases if you take action soon enough. There’s also never been a better time to have a hair transplant if you want a long-term solution. These days, you can acquire a head full of thick, natural hair in just a few months. Just do your research, choose a clinic and go for it!
While being bald is more fashionable today than in years gone by, it can still be a problem in many respects. Not all men want to be bald, fashionable or not. The fact that the perceptions of others about bald men are not always positive can also present problems for the individual suffering hair loss.
If you have concerns about hair loss or thinning, then the sooner you address them the better. Vinci Hair Clinic can help. As one of the world’s leading hair restoration organisations, we are well positioned to assess the extent of your problem and suggest suitable treatment. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to all our new clients, so there’s never been a better time to contact us. Make your appointment today!