Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bald-faced lies

I don't get the contemporary dictum that once you start to lose your hair (as a man), you must shave your head. The reasoning seems to be that keeping any hair is like "trying to hide it." The exact opposite seems true to me--shaving your head is like hoping people will think you could grow a full mane if you wanted, like maybe you just like to be aerodynamic.

This is not to say that I look at men with shaved heads as deceivers, or think they look bad. It suits and looks sharp on many a balding man. I'm just objecting to the attitude that doing so is de rigueur, the right thing to do. It seems almost akin to saying that when your hair starts graying you should dye it, like a denial of the signs of aging. I think gray hair looks lovely, and while I can't exactly say I think thinning hair is lovely, I definitely don't think male pattern baldness inherently looks bad. It suits some people. A shaved head doesn't suit everybody. Imagine if Einstein had shaved his head from 29 on. Would have been a grave loss.

In any case it's just fashion. (I keep wondering if this "rule" partly comes from that Queer Eye episode where they forced a balding man to shave his head--but in that case, he was wearing a toupee, which is ickier by far.) My dad and my grandfathers all just slowly went bald, keeping whatever hair they had left as long as they had it. Speaking of grandfathers, I think it'll be weird if in 30 to 40 years there's a generation of little old men still religiously shaving their heads. A few tufts in old age are charming, no? And yes maybe MPB makes you look unduly old when you're 25, but at 40? 50? Some pate and a little belly are kind of dignified, methinks.

In other news. We had a stopover in DC on way down to OBX last week, and I was thinking: Everyone points out that the Washington Monument is phallic, but does anyone notice that the Capitol looks like a giant boob?

17 comments:

  1. We tend to think it is full of boobs.

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  2. According to Gawker and other sources, a little belly is not only dignified, it's a new hipster accessory, at least for dudes: http://www.newser.com/story/66815/latest-hipster-fad-a-potbelly.html

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  3. There you go. Male pattern baldness can't be far behind. There'll be variations: The Monk, The Larry David, The Woody Allen, etc.

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  4. I started losing my hair when I was 20, and I kept it for a couple of years and then said, fuck it, and shaved it, and it's the best 'do I've ever had. I may have done so at first for the reasons you state above (keep in mind that before then I had totally amazing long hair that made my girlfriends jealous and turned them on too, which is to say, I looked great, so my fall from grace was long and hard), but now I love it for purely practical reasons. I don't own a comb. I haven't paid for a haircut in OVER A DECADE. In fact, I recently changed to a shorter #1 setting from #2 on my clippers, and I like it even better.

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  5. Chip, I think the shaved head look really works for you. I could probably name 10 people off the top of my head who look great w/ a shaved head and I wouldn't want it otherwise. But I could also name another 10 whose thinning, non-shaved heads I enjoy. I'm all for diversity in men's hair, especially since they seem to have less freedom of expression when it comes to fashion and the like. Can't wear makeup, fewer articles of clothing available (e.g. pants and shorts but no skirts or dresses, or capris!), etc. So hair and facial fair are one of the main ways you can distinguish yourself. Without getting into tattoos and piercings I guess.

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  6. Hey, thanks, Elisa! I just got new glasses and I wonder if I'll need some accompanying facial hair. Maybe this Sunday I can get your input on this. I had a sort-of beard only once in my life, for a whiskerino party (remember, Kathy?!?!).

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  7. can't wait to see the specs. I think bald+specs+beard is often an excellent combination. or just bald+beard. it's like an upside-down head!

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  8. As yet another balding head-shaver, I agree with most of what you say. I kept my thinning hair for quite a while before I got sick of how it looked. I think it'll be perfectly acceptable when I'm 40 and the whole top is bald rather than an ugly skin horseshoe around a little island on top.

    My goatee is actually a requirement for me to look good with the shaved head. Without it, I look like a cancer patient.

    Once upon a time I was at lunch with several friends. Both of the other guys there (also poets) had the same shaved look as I did, which at least one of our woman friends found very amusing.

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  9. The Whiskerino! I *do* remember--we did that twice, no? Once with the ladies doing fingernails for a Nailerino, and once with an armpit hair option. And I definitely think you should try rocking some facial hair once again. The Whiskerino really highlighted that, as EG says, while women have more fashion options than men, they have fewer options (in most quarters) in terms of the acceptability or unacceptability of body hair cultivation.

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  10. Yes! You did do it twice, but I didn't get to grad school until the second one. It did highlight the inequalities of body-hair acceptance. I have come to appreciate women who can grow lush armpit hair. I have a poster of Sophia Loren holding up a tin of anchovies and showing that shit off. If you don't mind my saying so, Kathy, yours was impressive.

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  11. "potbelly fad"...still shaking my head at that one. I find it hard to believe that a bunch of previously skinny guys just spontaneously made a conscious decision, all at the same time, to develop potbellies... I think this is a fake fad; stand on the street with a camera for long enough and you can collect multiple examples of any body type you want.

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  12. I participated in the second Whiskerino. Alas, as a blonde, my armpit hair did not reach magnificent lengths.

    I doubt it's that there are more of them, but that some subset of people (the "tastemakers," wah wah) suddenly decided they're cool. When I was a kid freckles were considered ugly/dorky. By the time I was a teen, a bunch of models had freckles and they were considered cute/sexy. Fashion is retarded.

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  13. Another major hairstyle risk for receding men is the so-called "skullet," or balding mullet.

    Unfortunately it's the style I get if I naturally let my hair grow long, as I was informed by a saucy hairdresser in Venice, CA one fateful afternoon in my early thirties.

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  14. Fashion *is* ridick, but I like how the "analysis" of fashion can be even more so. Like how the analysts of the potbelly trend are saying it's a counter-cultural backlash against having a thin, fit president--like growing a gut during an Obama presidency = being all, damn the man.

    And thanks, Chip; I did my best, though in the end, Kate Covintree bested us all.

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  15. And don't forget that the tide basin by the Jefferson Memorial resembles a vagina. So there you have it: penis, boob, and vagina--our nation's illustrious capital is a hermaphrodite.

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