Tips for people with large heads?
March 2, 2009 2:53 PM   Subscribe

I have always had a large head. The rest of my body is normal-sized but I always takes the largest size hats. I guess I am looking for some perspective now that I am a bit older on how unusual it is, what are the causes, who else has a large head and how they deal with it.

It's ok - I don't have any sort of hangup about it - my life is very normal and happy and it was never much of a hindrance (any more than other aspects of my personality were!) but I do wonder how other people view it. I have read for example that there is some demonstrated correlation between autism and head size. I am far from autistic but I guess I exhibit some signs - perhaps difficulty shutting out external input in social situations for example. I have also heard anecdotally from several sources that there is some correlation between intelligence and head size. Any other known medical knowledge? Anyone famous with an over-sized head? Anyone else have such a head? Any fashion tips?
posted by zaebiz to Science & Nature (42 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have a large head! My dad has a large head, too. We always knew my dad's head was large because hats don't fit him, but I only just realized that I was large-headed in the fall when I bought a winter hat. XL, bitches! And I'm a girl. Embrace your large-headedness!
I think we should form a club.
posted by phunniemee at 2:58 PM on March 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Big contents need big storage, I always say.
posted by yclipse at 3:06 PM on March 2, 2009

My family deals with this genetic issue by buying larger hats, pretending to be humble and stretching out the necks of shirts before trying to put them on the toddler to avoid the screaming "I've got a shirt stuck on my head!" routine.
posted by Seamus at 3:08 PM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oprah has a huge head, literally. A friend who worked behind the scenes in TV joked that it was like a box a normal sized head comes in. She's not unusual in that line of work. You know how people are often surprised at how short one actor or the other is? It's because absolute headsize has less variation than absolute body size, so smaller/shorter actors have proportionally larger heads, which makes a difference on camera because humans are so tuned in to facial expressions.
posted by Good Brain at 3:23 PM on March 2, 2009

I have a ginormous head (or "heed" as Mike Meyers says in his Scottish accent). No hats fit me. Adjustable baseball caps are even difficult for me to use. I'm a big guy though (6'4", 205), so my proportions are not really very far off.

There is a correlation between "heed" size and intelligence, you know. So, don't feel bad.
posted by crapples at 3:24 PM on March 2, 2009

The interesting and paradoxical thing about the link with autism is that some studies tend to demonstrate smaller than average head size at birth, followed by "excessive" head growth:

Small head circumference at birth, followed by a sudden and excessive increase in head circumference during the first year of life, has been linked to development of autism by researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital and Health Center, San Diego.
posted by jamjam at 3:27 PM on March 2, 2009

I'm a normal sized woman, with a massive head, but people don't seem to notice. I deal with it by just not wearing hats. Ever.
I'm not sure about any kind of correlation though, because I am neither autistic nor a genius.
posted by greta simone at 3:28 PM on March 2, 2009

Big head (7 3/4) daughter of a big head father. Never bothered me a bit, except when trying on vintage ladies' hats. I just wear knitted or men's hats instead.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:35 PM on March 2, 2009

When I was born, my Uncle Frank came to see me in the hospital and said "She's got a big cabeza! She's gonna be a smart one!" And indeed, I do have a big cabeza--although I'm only 5'0", I can hardly ever find a hat to fit me. I'm smart enough, but not a super genius (just your basic lawyer girl), and I do definitely have an issue with being unusually sensitive to external stimuli. I had never heard of the head size/autism link before. Very interesting.
posted by HotToddy at 3:39 PM on March 2, 2009

Oh--and how I deal with it: I used to avoid wearing hats, but then I got skin cancer. There are worse things than looking big-headed. Now I just wear the hats and am grateful I had a good surgeon.
posted by HotToddy at 3:42 PM on March 2, 2009

I have also heard anecdotally from several sources that there is some correlation between intelligence and head size.

I have read (and it is talked about here) that within normal human variation (ie, not microencephalatic) , it is not brain size but the structure of the cortex and location of gray matter in the brain that has an impact on intelligence.
posted by frobozz at 3:43 PM on March 2, 2009

See also. This only applies if your head is more than two standard deviations above the mean.
posted by frobozz at 3:49 PM on March 2, 2009

I have a "huge noggin" to the point that, when i went to buy a dressy hat, the largest size was not large enough. He had to put it on this special machine that gets it really hot and then stretches it.

I don't know about the intelligence link, but I have heard that actors and tv personalities tend to have big heads, because they show up better on camera. So maybe that does something for you?
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:53 PM on March 2, 2009

Seconding ottereroticist. Typical women's hats just perch on top of my dome and I use them as props to make fun of my ginormous head.
posted by LeiaS at 4:36 PM on March 2, 2009

Response by poster: Someone familiar with the area kindly sent me some very enlightening information about the link between head size and autism. This person agreed I could post the info here. So here it is.

I do research with very young babies, some of whom are later identified as having autism, and then we can retroactively look at their early data. What's being found so far (by several research groups, this data was just presented at the Infant Sibling Consortium's annual research meeting, but is not published anywhere yet as far as I know) is that there is some correlation with head size in very young children and autism. Head circumference seems to be pretty similar at birth, or I've seen some data suggesting it may even be smaller for babies who later develop autism. Over the course of the first year or so, the children who later develop autism have much quicker growth in head circumference. But the difference starts to narrow by year two, and by adolescence the head sizes seem to pretty much even out. My understanding is that the difference in head size has not been found to continue into adulthood in most studies.

There have been some published studies already showing this trend, but the data was pretty strikingly replicated by a lot of different baby study groups at this recent meeting. I think it's a pretty solid finding.


There've been a couple of studies indicating that if you measure brain volume as well, the brain volume is larger in autism through childhood, but brain volume of people with autism becomes comparable to control people in the teen and adult years. If it's the abnormal brain growth (or rather, the lack of normal neuron pruning) that's driving the head circumference difference, that seems to end in late childhood, and large head circumference in autism into adulthood is likely just the aftereffects of the early childhood explosion in brain growth.
posted by zaebiz at 4:39 PM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Stay away from phrenology.

And you're perfectly suited to find employment as a news anchor.
posted by availablelight at 4:40 PM on March 2, 2009

They call the anchors "bobble-heads" for a reason.

I have a big head too and it makes buying knit hats a chore, as they are almost always too tight and mash my hair flat. After I found one that actually fit, I would buy five of them if I could. The necks of sweaters are also a pain, as seamus aforesaid.
posted by bad grammar at 4:51 PM on March 2, 2009

I am far from autistic but I guess I exhibit some signs

Everybody, in their own little way, does. Nothing to be concerned about or to fret over.
posted by puritycontrol at 5:06 PM on March 2, 2009

I have a big head. I wear knit hats.

You know who had a REALLY big head? That Tim Russert fella.
posted by Evangeline at 5:08 PM on March 2, 2009

Just FYI, a big head is one of the many indicators of a rare genetic quirk that increases your risk of thyroid trouble and some cancers. Details here.
posted by PatoPata at 5:18 PM on March 2, 2009

My dad has a large head. Every couple of years he writes away to his favorite sports team organizations and says he can't find a team hat in his size and a box shows up a few weeks later with really really big hats.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:19 PM on March 2, 2009

First desk job out of college, I grew out my "interview" hair into a ponytail. Dumb, but you know. But it was a real pain in the er, neck, so I considered cutting it off - shaving my head, even; and I polled all my friends. One friend I've known since we were babies retorted, "Just remember if you shave it - You've got a big fuckin' melon." He was right, of course, but no one really gave me any trouble for it.

In other words, it's just a thing.
posted by notsnot at 5:19 PM on March 2, 2009

7-3/4 hat size here. I don't think it's so big that it looks disproportionate, or at least I'd prefer to keep thinking that way and not give myself a complex. I pretty much can't wear hats because they either fit weird or look weird.
posted by Durin's Bane at 5:46 PM on March 2, 2009

My one niece has a huge head. When she was little we always had to buy the tee shirts with the snaps on the shoulders so we could get them over that big pumpkin head of hers. She looks better now that her body has filled out, but as a kid she looked like a lollipop.

Mostly no one notices - unless she wears a turtleneck. Then it's obvious. My fashion advice is to avoid turtlenecks (which is probably good advice for everyone).
posted by 26.2 at 6:07 PM on March 2, 2009

I'm a 7-3/4 and don't mind except when I want a fashion had. They pretty much never fit. I am considered very intelligent (I don't believe it). My dad and my brothers have big heads. The youngest brother is super intelligent.

We like it. And since we're all really tall, it helps.

I have thyroid disease, so PatoPata's info will be interesting.
posted by jgirl at 6:39 PM on March 2, 2009

I'm a 5'7" woman with a 22.75" head. Other than some fun moments of observers' surprise when I've had to re-adjust the borrowed baseball hats of various boyfriends (all of whom were several inches taller than I am), it has had zero effect on my life. No one ever notices my huge skull unless we get into some sort of situation involving hats or bicycle helmets. And then I sometimes get a little gentle ribbing about my "giant alien head." I maintain it is necessary to carry my massive brain. With which I will crush you.

I don't wear hats a lot, because I think 99% of them look dorky on me, but I never thought that this had anything to do with my big ol' head. Maybe it does.

I will say that it has led to some problems getting glasses that "fit" my face. Most frames seem to look too small or the "eye" sections seem too close together on me. Don't assume that you must simply resign yourself to looking stupid because you have some kind of "weird face." It's just about lens size, width between temples, and the placement of the lens. Keep looking.
posted by tigerbelly at 6:41 PM on March 2, 2009

I avoid turtlenecks. When I can get them over my head, they look really funny (big head on stubby neck!) and usually I end up stretching out the neck. Scoop-neck and golf shirts go over my head nicely and fit the rest of me OK.
posted by cathoo at 7:33 PM on March 2, 2009

I saw a fascinating siskel and ebert, way back in the day, where they were looking at a clint eastwood movie as he walked through the crowd. Ebert pointed out that Eastwood has a HUGE head, much larger than any of the extras in the crowd, and that this made it much easier to pick him out of the crowd. Ebert then said something to the effect of many actors having unusually big noggins.

So, maybe you can get into acting?
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:43 PM on March 2, 2009

Found some more (physically) big headed movied actor discussion here.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:48 PM on March 2, 2009

7 3/4 here too-- but you can have my extremely large drover hat when you pry it from my cold, dead hands, thanks. I use it to shield my bad eyes from the sun and from crap lighting conditions in buildings. When it's not sunny, or I'm going somewhere where I know I don't need the giant brim, I ratchet down to a nice newsboy cap in olive corduroy. If you have sufficient "yes, this hat belongs on my head, why" sangfroid, you can really make any hat that fits you garner compliments-- I used to do just fine with a Sorcerer's Apprentice hat at my last job, when I was feeling particularly spunky.

As for glasses, my opticians are rockstar gods and came up with glasses to fit my giant head (and appease my visual conditions) just fine. Never even really had to think about that.

I was known to rock the Army-surplus beret in college, which mostly got me asked if I was a film major, not if I knew that my head was abnormally huge.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:08 PM on March 2, 2009

Oh I forgot to mention the one time this actually worked in my favor. When I played pop warner football in seventh grade none of the helmets would fit me. Instead of the regular kid-sized helmets with the cheap facemasks that had been used for years, they had to order a full-sized helmet with an intimidating, interior-lineman facemask that looked straight out of the NFL. It scared the crap out of people, until the first snap when I'd get knocked on my ass.
posted by Durin's Bane at 8:16 PM on March 2, 2009

I don't have a big head, but you asked how people perceive them so that's what I'm going to talk about. Honestly, it doesn't seem to me that people notice terribly much when someone has a big head, and they tend not to comment on it when they do.

On occasion, if someone already dislikes the big-headed person, they may work the big head into an insult about them, but that's pretty much the same for any physical characteristic. If it wasn't the big head, they'd probably pick something else.

It seems to me that big-headed people are more aware of their big heads than other people are, I guess because they've tried on hats. My dad used to always call himself a "zeppelin-headed Polack" but I never noticed how big his head was until he would point it out. Similarly, there was a guy I didn't like very much in high school, but I never even noticed he had a big head until he had to get fitted with a graduation cap and complained that they were all too small. You'd think if I disliked him his big head would be obvious to me, but I don't think big heads are that conspicuous.

Maybe I'm unusually unaware of big heads, though. I also tend not to notice people's shoes, but there are some people who notice everyone's shoes.
posted by Nattie at 9:14 PM on March 2, 2009

By the way, this thread reminded me of a Chinese children's song my friend told me in middle school. Big-headed people might appreciate it. It's "Big Head" on the middle of this page. In English, it goes, "Big head, big head; when it rains I don't worry; most people have umbrellas; I have my big head."

Isn't that fantastic? I never forgot it. Makes me wonder how different cultures see big heads.
posted by Nattie at 9:17 PM on March 2, 2009

Hm. I've had thyroid cancer, too.
posted by HotToddy at 9:33 PM on March 2, 2009

My dad and I both wear...get ready for this...size 8 hats. Not a typo. Fricking 8. It's nearly impossible to buy hats. I've found some new ones on eBay, but it's rare that I find a team that my dad or I follows in size 8. Big Head Caps is pretty cool, we actually got a couple of blaze orange baseball caps for hunting from them. My philosophy is that there's a large brain in there, which seems to be backed up by some of the information above.
posted by whiskey point at 9:34 PM on March 2, 2009

I asked metafilter about glasses for my large head. The solutions I found that worked for me was getting frames with wraparound temple arms that ended in pads, frames with plastic temple arms that didn't hook around the back of my ears, and ordering online.
posted by rdr at 10:26 PM on March 2, 2009

Maybe you just have a small body? Squat more.
posted by tiburon at 1:05 PM on March 3, 2009

I have a huge head. I luckily found my soulmate who also has a big head. I'm kinda scared about having kids.

I knit my own hats.
posted by like_neon at 2:32 PM on March 3, 2009

I have a big head, too. I can never find hats to fit unless they are the Rasta kind meant to cover locs. I was overjoyed to discover these hats!! As an African American, I have very thick hair that adds to the size of my head. When I got my hair straightened in the past I had a tad less trouble with hats- I could get them on, but if I'd worn them for more than a few minutes I'd probably end up with drain bamage from oxygen loss.

Now I wear my hair in twists and don't ever expect to fit into anything but a Rasta-style or knit cap. Thankfully, no one has ever noticed my big head. However, my one fear is that when I finally find my True Love - who HAS to have a motorcycle- I will not fit into the spare helmet brought just for our special date. And I will be humiliated.
posted by Piscean at 4:10 PM on March 3, 2009

Oh, I should add that I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto's- a thyroid disease.
posted by Piscean at 4:11 PM on March 3, 2009

I have a big head and my thyroid is spot-on normal. My brother has a big head, too. We both have extremely large and heavy bone structures, so I think that might be part of the whole giant-noggin issue.

I recommend Helen Kaminski hats for my fellow big-headed ladies.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:37 PM on March 3, 2009

Seconding Helen Kaminski! I have two of these. Very nicely made, crushable, attractive, and they fit my big cabeza. Expensive, though.
posted by HotToddy at 1:37 PM on March 4, 2009

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