Male Pattern Baldness and the Art of Graceful Baldness

Author Oscar Holland, CNN

There are three important days in every bald man’s life: the day he realizes he’s losing hair, the day he realizes he should shave off the remaining hair, and the day he finally does. Balding gracefully is all about closing the gaps between these milestones as much as possible. I learned this the hard way.

Before telling my decade of denial and deceit, here are the bald facts: I suffer from a type of baldness that I call “Prince William.” It combines an expanding round patch on top (“The Friar Tuck”) with receding corners (“Jude Law”). The two must eventually meet. Or, to put it another way: The bridges between my last strongholds of follicular activity are getting thinner, and my hairline is dividing like two continental continents. What was once resembling Pangaea is now little more than a footbridge over the Bering Strait.

My mother was the first to notice this tectonic shift. “You’re getting thinner,” she observes, hovering over my then 25-year-old self at the family dinner table. It seemed fitting that the woman who had brought me into this world should also spot the first signs of my aging. After all, hair loss means potentially looking like a big baby again. (Though my mom recently confirmed via WhatsApp that I was born with a full head of hair. “I don’t have bald babies,” she adds, without help.)

What happened next will be known to men all over the world. Realization is a slow process of denial, eroded by moments of shock and subsequent resignation. Denial is believing that what isn’t in the mirror (i.e. the bird’s eye view of my head) doesn’t exist. Shock is seeing a picture of myself, taken from above, and I wonder, “Who is that bald man standing where I am?” Submission is seeing an acquaintance across a bar, his greasy comb just Lied to myself and muttered to my wife, “Just don’t make me like him.”

I almost did it. Another five years passed until I threw in the towel. I moved to Hong Kong and found an amazing hairdresser who proved that being cool is more than just a hairstyle. A budding break dancer (and opting for baldness: hair is a hindrance to spinning my head), he’s good at arranging the rest of my hair in a way that keeps the illusion.

We have a tacit understanding. But when I moved again last year, I became increasingly awkward trying to explain his magic to the new hairstylist. It felt like I let them be an accomplice to my deception. “Just to make it look…better?” I’d say, before taking off my glasses, hoping something came out to last me another month or three. A succession of barbers followed suit. But I’m also just kidding myself.

Instagram’s algorithm found out about my situation and started showing clips of extreme wig makeovers in my feed. Hints from loved ones are even less subtle—such as when my wife waves a gift when she returns from a work trip, just to show off a bottle of UV-protective scalp spray. Who Said Romance Is Dead?

At the same time, I started making self-deprecating jokes and talking more freely about my fate. Friends always respond with the same three condolences: 1) “At least” I can grow a beard, 2) I have a “good head shape,” whatever that means, and 3) If I’m lucky, I might end up with the universal gold standard of attractive bald white men: Bruce Willis.

If you ever find yourself comforting a bald man who looks like Bruce Willis, I assure you he’s heard it many times before. Still, it’s reassuring.

“Welcome to the erogenous zone”

As your hair thins, little clumps start sticking out in new and unexpected directions. Human hair craves company—and when their neighbors leave, they don’t know where to go.

I would spend cumulative hours trying to convince individual strands to back off. Then one winter morning, as I fussed over a pack of stray stray dogs, it dawned on me: I was less secure in my hair than what was hiding under it.

That night, I bought the clippers, took them to the bathroom, and unceremoniously gave myself the only haircut for the rest of my life. A full 10 years after the diagnosis, male pattern baldness won its final victory. A chapter of my youth ends with a limp pile of scraps on the shower floor.

My wife tells me I look better than ever. But she had to say it. Meanwhile, my editor assured me that I looked more “athletic” (in fact, my streamlined body probably shaved seconds off my swim time). Other benefits, I tell myself, include faster post-shower drying, no costly haircuts, and time saved getting ready each morning.

Not long after I did this, I sent a selfie to my friend Anton. “Welcome to the erogenous zone, comrade,” he wrote back.

Anton was the first of my friends to be bald. While I was lucky enough to make it to 35, he was an anxious 18-year-old when he first noticed a clump of hair on his pillow. The denial phase only lasted until his early 20s, when he was broken in a drama studio by a teacher who instructed the class to “lean in until you can see Anton’s bald head.” Then he performed what Anton called a “tap on the top of my head.”

“I was like, ‘What the fuck is this?'” he recalled on Zoom. “I didn’t say it, but I felt attacked. Not just because he patted me on the head, but because I didn’t even know I was bald! That was the first time I heard about it.”

He quickly found looking at pictures of himself depressing. He’s also convinced that “at least” he has a beard and a “good haircut”—whatever that means. He was told he looked like Jason Statham, the British equivalent of Willis. For Anton, going bald was a “very lonely” experience, especially at such a young age.

“What happened to you made you feel particularly isolated, and that’s socially acceptable to laugh it off,” he said. “No one felt anything other than ‘it sucks to be you.'”

For the record, Anton looks great with his bald head – I’m not just echoing his compliments. Unlike me, he has some muscles. As a boxing trainer, he fits the skinhead image well. In a 2012 study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that images of men whose hair had been digitally removed were perceived as “more dominant, taller, and stronger” compared to the original photos.

“Keeping your hair is not nearly as appealing as getting rid of it,” Anton says. “You can look a little sharper, you just change the image of yourself in your head, and then you suddenly appreciate the aesthetic value of it differently. “

“It took me 35 years, but now I really like how I look,” he added. “I came to a point where I realized that any criticism of my appearance wasn’t based on what other people might think it was.”

“The bald man”

I’m not terribly worried about being perceived as unattractive. I also don’t worry about looking older or being called a “slaphead” because we are demeaned in the UK. It was a loss of identity that I struggled with.

My hairless head will always be my distinctive physical feature. For strangers, I’m now officially “that bald guy.” Who ordered the lasagna? The bald man at table seven. where is the bathroom On the left, just past the bald guy. ManDoes the queue start here? Well, it’s back to the bald guy.

People keep saying I look like my dad, which makes me even more concerned that all hairless men look the one has once This similarity was noticed before. Now, all of a sudden, we’re like two shiny, bearded peas in a pod. There’s a poetic justice here, and I often recall the ludicrous jokes I told at my father’s expense. He assured me he didn’t take them seriously.

My dad started going bald when he was 16. When he was my age, his bald head rivaled the mullets and perms of the 1980s. But he seems genuinely indifferent to his baldness. “I don’t remember ever being sensitive to it in my life,” he told me over Zoom. Maybe baby boomers just don’t like talking about their feelings, but I believe him.

“I wasn’t a cool or attractive teenager at all,” he recalls. “But I managed to build a good social life because I could make people laugh. I made a decision early in life that I could only achieve anything by relying on my wit, charm and personality. Baldness is beautiful High on my list of priorities.”

Whether he’s to blame for my hairline is a moot point. Studies of identical twins have found that genetic factors account for about 80 percent of male pattern baldness propensity, though little is known about genetics. An old wives’ tale suggests that hair loss is inherited through the mother, so your maternal grandfather’s hairline is the best predictor of your own hair loss. However, there is no hard evidence for this, and my dad believes there is “no observable pattern” in our family (his generation includes a Friar Tuck, a Jude Law, and a full head of hair).

Lifestyle factors can play a role, and I’ve often wondered if my fate was accelerated by eating trans fats and not getting enough sleep, or by living in some of the most polluted years in Beijing. But my receding hairline was probably doomed. So I’m pretty calm about it.While I’m not gracefully bald, I can still aspire yes Go bald gracefully.

Here’s Anton’s advice to me and newcomers to his “erogenous zone”: Moisturize your head daily, shave every few days, and wear a hat for sun and heat protection. If you have a beard, keep it neat; if you’re muscular, be careful to intimidate people and disarm them with a smile. Remember, he concluded, the way you behave is more important than what — or what isn’t — grows on the top of your head.

My dad’s advice was a little blunt: “If I were you, I’d focus on developing your wit, charisma, and personality.”

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