How does one deal with premature baldness gracefully?
November 20, 2011 6:27 PM   Subscribe

26 and balding. How does one deal with it gracefully?

I had a thick head of hair till I was about 20, after which it slowly began to thin out. Now, at 25, I am a 4 - closing in on 5 - on the Norwood scale.

After many years of being petrified of looking at a mirror that reflected the back of my head, or of talking about my prospective baldness with anyone (including my girlfriend), I took the step of buzzing my head down to a longish stubble (The technical term, I believe is a #1) a month ago.

The feedback has been good. I have begun discussing my insecurities with my girlfriend, who says she doesn't care about a stupid bald spot and is cool with whatever I do with my head. My family likes the new look too.

Still, I feel that my confidence in myself has taken a nosedive over the last few years - gory details in a comment I posted here - and I wish to bring it back.

I've just dedicated myself anew to a fitness program. I'm also seriously considering the option of shaving my head clean bald, given the possibly liberating effects of just radically letting go. At the same time, there's a nagging doubt that "choosing to be bald" is just another way of hiding, just another expression of vanity not too different from the much-maligned comb-over.

Clearly, I am super confused. What do I do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (58 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
From your other question I'd bet most of your lack of confidence stems from other physical attributes, not the baldness. Luckily, you can change those! Get in shape and you'll get your confidence back, simple as that. I've been shaving my head for almost ten years and my confidence doesn't much stem from it as much as it does how I feel fitness-wise.
posted by kcm at 6:32 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't know that it's vanity or "hiding" just to shave your head; as I see it, you're just doing what you want with what you got. (And that, really, is the essence of confidence, no?) Shave it, and if you like it, you'll feel good about it. If you don't, it won't take long to grow out back to the stubble level.
posted by scody at 6:32 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

From a female perspective: When I see a comb-over, I always worry that the owner is going to have a hair malfunction. Shaving the head clean makes a guy look badass, which is very hard to pull off when sporting a comb-over.
posted by SillyShepherd at 6:33 PM on November 20, 2011 [14 favorites]

I don't know that shaving the head is just another way of hiding. I don't think I've seen anyone look better with a comb-over than a shaved head. I personally oscillate between longish stubble on top and occasional re-shaves with a #1. One thing that I did was cultivate a trimmed bit of stubble on the face as well. This prevents a sort of 'wall of skin' effect that I'd otherwise have.

Own that stubble, man! It's our way of telling a receding hairline or MPB to go piss up a rope. You want to fall out of my head? Yeah? BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. SUCKS TO BE YOU, HAIR.
posted by jquinby at 6:35 PM on November 20, 2011 [39 favorites]

Shaved heads are sexy.
posted by at 6:36 PM on November 20, 2011 [8 favorites]

I think the way you deal gracefully with it is by not making a big deal out of it. Trim your hair to your desired length and just be yourself. Having less hair doesn't change your personality.

(This is from a 33yo guy that starting balding at your age - I still buzz my hair short with clippers every 3-6 weeks.
posted by gnutron at 6:39 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

My SO is like you though much closer to a 5 on that scale. I just buzz his head down to a #1 guard every few weeks. The haircuts are free, and the short length hides the fact that even in places he still has hair, it's thinner in some areas than others. The longer the hair looks, the more stringier and obviously balding it looks, so keep it short and clean cut and you'll be fine. It really doesn't look as bad as you think!
posted by kthxbi at 6:40 PM on November 20, 2011

My boyfriend is going a little bald and personally, I love it. I love the bald spot and find it very sexy. I'm not as much a fan of the shaved head, though a close cropped cut can look good. Do whatever you (or your girlfriend) think(s) looks best.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:41 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Experiment (including taking some photos and asking your gf what looks best) with how things look shaved compared to trimmed at different lengths (#1, #2, etc). Everyone's head is different, and you might look amazing with stubble and terrible shaved, or vice versa. Whatever you do, don't do the combover, or the young guy version involving lots of product to make things on top spiky in an attempt to hide the balding.
posted by Forktine at 6:41 PM on November 20, 2011

On a young guy, a stubble head is common and looks pretty good on most people. Shaving your head completely bald can go either way - some people look sickly with no hair at all. OTOH, it'll grow out either way so you can always try it for a short period.

Another option would be going to a barber that's good with clippers and getting your usual #1 on top and and having them fade the lower parts of your hair with blade guards with varying numbers of zeros. This can look a lot better than just using the #1 if your hairline is irregular, but it's a time and expense that you don't incur just using clippers at home.

I am not balding, but I have had short to very close-cropped hair for most of the past decade.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:43 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also, I agree with the suggestion above to consider facial hair at the same time, and in the same spirit of experimentation.
posted by Forktine at 6:48 PM on November 20, 2011

Hair trimmers have a bunch of different settings, so don't go full-bald right away if you're not feeling it. A short #2 (there's a short and a long in some of the numbered guards, so ask for the short) is good to give the look of still "having" hair while you've buzzed it (like a close buzzcut), a #1 is going for the "stubble" look and no guard at all will be close to razor-shaved.

When your hair grows out a bit, see what #2 looks like. Maybe that will work well for the winter, as your head can get quite cold with shaving.

That said, I've seen balding guys with ponytails, Friar Tuck-style horseshoes, shaved, long, whatever, and they all look fine so long as they rock their hair (or lack thereof) rather than style it in some form of camouflage.
posted by xingcat at 6:49 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

It doesn't matter how many people in this thread say that shaved heads are sexy. It might help a bit, and some positive influence from your loved ones will keep you stable for the short term, but in all honesty, you're stuck in the past. You're looking at your world through the lens of high school. You wanna be smokin', in however you define that, and be as confident as you were (or believe you were) when you were 20. Shaving or buzzing you head isn't going to help you with this problem. You need to get powerful again, confident, and embrace your toughness. A great career, a fantastic education - all those help. But, for you, it seems like all those things might be reminding you of how you don't match your expectations. When you were 18, you expected a certain thing when you're 26. Now that you're 26, and you look in the mirror, you've got nothing and you've internalized that.

What you need to do is work out. What you need is to see improvement. The problem with focusing on your hair is that, with hair, you can only focus on that fact that you're losing it. And while you're waiting for your body to change through intense changes in your diet, start dressing better. Don't wait till you've got a better body - get well fitted, tailored, structured clothes now. Focus on improvement, focus on change, and focus on what you're gaining. Don't wallow in your loss because, the older you get, the more hair you'll lose, and the worse you'll just end up.
posted by Stynxno at 6:52 PM on November 20, 2011 [5 favorites]

My husband (40 years of age) is bald and began balding at the same age. He is very handsome and honestly it doesn't bother me in the least.

I read this question to my husband and he said to keep the stubble. Keeping the stubble is choosing a haircut. Shaving completely bald is trying to hide.
posted by Fairchild at 6:53 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

shaving your head is nothing like a comb over. i think it's a great look for many younger men losing their hair. don't mess around with rogaine or any witch doctor medicines. acceptance and confidence is always the sexiest option.

i think a 0 on the clippers looks better than doing it clean shaven. depending on your location, style, and physical type, be ready for some to wonder if you're a skinhead.
posted by nadawi at 6:54 PM on November 20, 2011

I'm a 5A, and use clippers or a blade depending how much effort I feel like putting in. I've known people who started wearing lots of hats. and there's always the implant option. but it sounds like what you need isn't practical (no)hair management tips but rather just to come to terms with the fact that you're balding.

so how do you bald gracefully? by accepting that's how your body is, and working with it instead of trying to fight or hide it.
posted by russm at 6:57 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Choosing to be bald is no more hiding or vain than deciding to go to the gym. You're taking steps to be happier with the way you look.

Comb-overs remind me of people who aren't willing to go up (or down) a clothing size. It's not comfortable, it doesn't look good, and you're not fooling anybody.

Just go for it.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:01 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

At the same time, there's a nagging doubt that "choosing to be bald" is just another way of hiding, just another expression of vanity not too different from the much-maligned comb-over.

You're overthinking it. No one else is going to analyze your head this way. Choose your hair length based on whether you like the way it looks, not based on whether it could give fodder to a psychoanalyst. Since you already have extremely short hair, why not shaving it off completely and see how it looks? The worst that could happen is you'll be unhappy with your haircut for the brief time it takes to grow back to the way it is now.
posted by John Cohen at 7:05 PM on November 20, 2011

27 here, balding too, I just buzz that crap off every four or five days to show it that I wear the pants in this relationship. Seriously though, you'll get comfortable with it and start feeling more confident as time goes on. It's a bummer, but we all have to deal with some things that aren't fun. And losing hair is a relatively benign thing to have happen to you. It's your hair, it's your life, it's your choice. Anyone who gives you shit is a shithead.
posted by pwally at 7:06 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Look at bald celebs. Bruce Willis, for example. If you have a good skull, clipper it, or shave it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:06 PM on November 20, 2011

It's neither vanity nor "hiding" to shave it down to nothing or nearly nothing. There comes a point in the thinning process where trying to wear longer hair, I think, looks a lot more vain and, after a point, starts to look unkempt. (Also, watch your neck hairline - I think close-cropped balding men are sexy unless it's a mess in the back. Let your girlfriend help with this, seriously, if she doesn't care she *doesn't care* and probably also doesn't want you having to pay a barber every 3 days to tidy up your neck.)

The good news is that you can play with very short lengths with abandon - what's still there is gonna grow no matter what. Go shiny, see how you feel - if you don't like it, wait 5 days.

Yes, it's absolutely a shitty draw of the cards to start losing your hair in your 20s, but as long as you don't veer off into a hairstyle that really doesn't suit you (very few men can pull off the 'crazed woodsman' look, and never at your age) and your hairline, you just gotta live the facts of life.

Or, you're young enough to commit to a hairpiece if you really want to. We think of that as a thing actors do, but there's guys walking around doing it well and natural looking and you don't know because you never saw them thinning.

I think balding is one of those things that everybody knows happens and that there's very little you can do about it. Everybody knows it's genes and not a personal failure. I think the most graceful answer is to acknowledge that yourself, because confidence is not just sexy but appealing in general.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:07 PM on November 20, 2011

I think you should own it. Millions of men are balding and millions of women find those men totally sexy. Your hair has very little to do with your attractiveness- it's all about confidence. Want to go completely bare? Do it. Want to rock a Michael Bolton circa 1998? Do it (with caution).

My husband is easily a 7 on the Norwood scale, and I think he looks best when what's left is scissored (no clippers). But really, that's because that is what he likes and feels comfortable with and confident about. He would look just as good clean shaven or with a stubble (or whatever), but he goes with what he likes, and that is pretty sexy.
posted by LyndsayMW at 7:11 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

One more thought: comb-overs are made fun of because concealing baldness is the only possible motivation, and they're not even effective at that. No one would decide to have a combover just because they like the look. A shaved head is the opposite: (a) it can be a cool look (Michael Stipe, Seal, Bruce Willis), and (b) it's not concealing the bald scalp, it's exposing the bald scalp.
posted by John Cohen at 7:11 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Girl here. Love the shaved head or very short trim. They're really good. They look good. They're totally socially acceptable -- hip or cool, even. A thousand, million times better than a comb-over, hair replacement, growing the rest of the hair really long, or anything else. And you'll be in such good company with a shave or short trim -- it's not 50 years ago when it was Yul Brenner and nobody else. There are tons of celebs, models and cool people with this style. GO FOR IT, and let us all heap adulation on you for just being who you are.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:14 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with BlahLaLa! Also- shaved head/ short trim with a goatee or some stubble is cute.
posted by catrae at 7:23 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Shaving your head is a low-stakes, reversible option--go for it. If you don't like it, it'll grow back quickly. I think working out will help a lot--it'll give you something else to focus on, and fitness is a lot better than say, starving yourself or getting plastic surgery. also, it's a positive goal--you'll never get the hair back, unless you invest in some pricey hair restoration (which is pretty good these days, so if you have the funds, it might not be a bad option). but assuming that's not on the table, stick with a hairstyle you can live with that your girlfriend and family like, and you'll get used to it.

this is kind of random, but if it fits with your lifestyle, you could also get a cool tattoo.

i also like a shaved head better than a comb-over, but a thin spot on a short-cropped style isn't bad, either. it's the confidence that sells it, which the working out will help you develop.

good luck! i don't think people who haven't experienced hair loss know how traumatic it can be, even if it is common. be kind to yourself, and trust the feedback you get from the people who love you. they see you for who you are, not the image you present to them. live with it for a while, and it'll get better.
posted by elizeh at 7:26 PM on November 20, 2011

I'm a dude that's had a shaved head since 2003 or so and it varies between smooth skin and just enough stubble to be interesting. Women especially love it. When I first shaved my head, they were petting me for about a week. And even now, when it's obvious I just trimmed things back down, they all want to pet me. Or I just have touchy feely friends.

You could also try to hide it, but that never works and something like a combover looks like a spider clinging to an enormous egg. I suppose you could have a toupee or get those implants, but not having hair has never been a big deal for me and, honestly, better to be bald and neat then to be desperately trying to hide it and have the obvious ruins of a once-great hair civilization in a scattered mess up there.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:31 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Male Pattern Baldness is not a big deal, really it isn't. Baldness Associated Insecurity is incredibly common and uncomfortable to be around, much less have in a partner. Think of your hairstyle is as irrelevant as the brand of your underwear, you can imagine how little women might care about the knickers and how unattractive insecurity about them might be.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:32 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Prince William is balding. Anybody can go bald, and you shouldn't feel bad about it.

Don't feel like you're hiding. You're not. You're dealing with a situation that your genes (and probably high testosterone) dealt you. You're going to look awesome. It may take you a bit to get comfortable with your new look as being you, but I bet that you'll get used to it rather quickly. Keep on working out...bald heads and a fit body are stereotypically badass. Being bald does NOT mean you need to be Larry David. Also, keep a list of awesome dudes with shaved heads (both balding and not balding) in your head to use to boost your self-esteem. Here is a short list to get you started:

Billy Zane
David Beckam
Vin Diesel
Jason Statham
Bruce Willis
posted by 200burritos at 7:36 PM on November 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've had crushes on so many bald and balding men it's not even funny. I'm constantly tempted to ask bald men if I can touch their heads.

Also, remember that baldness is a sign of high testosterone levels and virility. So hold your head high and strut your stuff ;)
posted by bunderful at 7:47 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

We have an air curtain on the front doors at work and it is my favorite sport to watch bad combovers and swirlies walk under it. Most people sporting them just swoop it back into place with one hand without looking and go right up the street. That's terrifying.

I started losing the hair about 28, and I went with the expensive club rug stuff (suture, trims in the office, etc.) for about two years until I finally got sick of it. It's a dreadful waste of money that I could have gone to Fiji on. I wised up and went for the stubble cut and never looked back. The upside is that once I stopped tormenting it, it quit falling out at that point and went no further.

If you have dark hair, spend the money on a trip to a real salon and get your eyebrows done (if they need it.) Nothing focuses attention on your eyes like short short hair.

Rock the gym and rock the scalp!
posted by halfbuckaroo at 7:51 PM on November 20, 2011

There's lot of different ways, mentioned above, to rock a bald spot. I've loved men (of a variety of ages, including in their 20s) who have had each of the three main (appropriate eg. not comb over) methods: clippers, bald, scissors. I find baldness and baldingness incredibly sexy partly because it is such a masculine attribute. My current sweetheart is mostly bald, with some gorgeous fine curls, and wears a drivers cap when out in the sun to protect from melanoma. I think he is incredibly hot.
posted by b33j at 7:53 PM on November 20, 2011

My brother began really showing MPB in his mid-20s. He decided to shave it all, down to a shiny, well-exfoliated dome, and has rocked the look for years (he's almost 39). And he's an ultra-conservative kind of guy, in sales, and it has never, to my knowledge, been a problem. Comb-overs are denial. Do what works for you!
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 8:00 PM on November 20, 2011

You'd crazy NOT to try rocking the Jason Statham look. Seriously. HAWT.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:18 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

As someone who's had crushes on lots of bald men...make sure you are taking care of the other things that you CAN take care of...
you said you're getting in shape--this is good!
make sure your clothes are in style, in good shape and always clean/neat.
that will go a long way to helping you to feel good about yourself and to carry yourself confidently.
posted by calgirl at 8:53 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're insecure, that's going to show more than even a chrome-ish dome. ,All the hair-club-for-men and minoxidil in the world can't give you confidence. I started losing my hair in the early 20s, and starting going gray in my late 20s.
posted by brownrd at 9:14 PM on November 20, 2011

I started balding when I was 21 and am now, at 32, somewhere near a 6 on the scale linked in the question.

I had long hair somewhere past my shoulders which I loved until I came to terms with the fact, as put by a housemate, that my "carparks are turning into truck-bays" (thanks Neil, very honest...) and I clipped it all off.

If you are insecure about your appearance then it may be hard to joke about it but I have a whole lot of one liners I trot out sometimes. It could be argued that a lot of these aren't actually funny but they let people know that you don't take your baldness too seriously and they have the side effect that they become a way of telling yourself not to take it too seriously.

They include:
*I'm dying it clear
*It's a solar panel for a love machine
*Gravity has pulled it down my body (I'm pretty hairy and I've had a three year old suggest that this may have in fact happened)
*Other shit-stirring jokes about using cut and polish to buff up my scalp, etc.

Did I mention they are not necessarily all that funny?

It helps that I actually like this hair cut these days (number 0 on clippers, often with a short beard), I like the way it feels, the low maintenance and the way it looks.

Own it and don't worry, in short.

Wear hats, for both sun and cold.
posted by deadwax at 9:20 PM on November 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'm dying it clear

I think I'm going to have to start using that.
posted by russm at 9:23 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seriously, there are so many hot bald dudes in the world. Honestly. Shave it and join the ranks of Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Taye Diggs and countless others. An in-shape young dude with super close-cropped hair? NO ONE is going to think, "that poor young man is balding," they're going to think, "hey, that dude is hot." Seriously. SERIOUSLY.

You are totally allowed to feel bummed about this, but a man can completely, COMPLETELY own and work a baldish head nowadays.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 10:09 PM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

My older brother started balding at around this age. His reaction?

"We only produce so much testosterone. If other people want to waste theirs on growing hair, that's their problem."
posted by fearnothing at 10:21 PM on November 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

Just chiming in for encouragement. I've always liked the look of a bald head or closely clipped hair since the days of Deborah Kerr and Yul Brenner in The King and I. Many more men now style this way (like Seal, Heidi Klum's husband) and I think it is very attractive. Listen to those who say keep fit, wear great clothes and own your look. Truly. It's very masculine, very attradtive.
posted by Anitanola at 10:54 PM on November 20, 2011

I don't have much advice beyond what others here have already offerred. But I commiserate.

I remember when I first realized I was going bald. My hair is thick on the front and back, and looks very full when you see it from eye level. So I never thought about it.

One day I slipped a rib. All the muscles on the right side of my back went into spasm. I went to the bathroom and held a mirror over my shoulder to see what was going on in the middle of my back. Yup, lots of spasm, starting mid-back where the rib had popped, up to the shoulder blade, into the neck and... Right on top of my head, white hot under the ceiling lamp, was a bald spot the size of a golf ball. Motherfucker!

It rattled me more than I expected it to and I remember I spent a couple hours wandering the house in a daze. People laugh when I tell them this but it really was a shock, and the funny thing is I never thought I would be the kind of person to be traumatized by a little hair loss. When I asked my then girlfriend (now wife) about it she was surprised. "You mean you didn't know? It's always been there. I noticed it on our first date." To this day she likes to creep up behind me, reach out and pet the bald patch.

As others have said, go to the gym. It'll make you feel good. Buzzing your head is great if you have the right shape of head. Not everyone looks good with a buzz (myself included). I just keep mine short, so I don't look too much like a monk. Eventually your baldness gets integrated into your self-image, you get used to it and you stop worrying. Sometime after that you find you actually enjoy telling the story of how you first noticed you were going bald. That's the circle of life.
posted by rabbitfufu at 11:15 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

A lot of bald men are sexy. It's up to you if you want to be one of them. I think your fitness program is going to make this so much more possible.

My brother has been bald since he was 18(!) and he has so much female attention it's frankly kind of gross. He is super fit and his shaved head doesn't take away from his tough guy look at all. He's like the Jason Statham of the Midwest. I think being in shape is a huge part of the bald and fine look, though.

Personally, if going bald bothered me as much as you say it bothers you, I'd get a hair transplant. A few hours of pain, a bit of expense, and voila!-- you get to live a whole lifetime without being bothered by this issue ever again. But then I'm a big fan of permanent solutions re: these kinds of highly fixable, bothersome physical issues. Personally, I think more vanity is expended on the cover-ups-- and anything one does for looks as opposed to health qualifies as vanity, IMO. And no, I'm not knocking it; I've walked the walk and boy was it a good choice to fix my issue.
posted by devymetal at 11:43 PM on November 20, 2011

IANYGirlfriend. But, as a woman, I basically only care about one thing going on north of your eyebrows... CLEANLINESS. Adonis himself could walk up to me and if it looked (and smelled) like he could have used his hair to clean out the grease trap at a McDonald's, the rest of the hotness is immaterial. Gross. I don't care if you're rocking just baby-smooth skin or a twenty-inch long mullet, as long as it is washed thoroughly and often.

If you want to shave it entirely off, hell with it, it's not hiding, it's a haircut. You can grow it back to stubbly if you really don't like it. Or, work on developing Bald Anonymous into The Awesomest Version Of Anonymous to ever exist. Anonymous-With-Hair might have been cool, but you're Bald Anonymous now, you can do anything.
posted by mornie_alantie at 12:18 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Not the answer you asked for, but as others have suggested hair transplants -- Propecia. It works (well, it works for me -- I've been on it for probably fifteen years).

It's a testosterone antagonist (not suppressor, my doctor tells me. I don't know what the finer points of difference are). Can affect your sex drive, that's the only downside.

I'm not too sure about hair that you've already lost growing back, but if you catch it in time it's a definite solution.
posted by wrm at 1:41 AM on November 21, 2011

Late to the party, but - as everyone has said you either fight every follicle with science, or you shave it all off, look life in the face and say I AM BALD.

Except what they don't say is that after a while of shaving, people with hair look weird, the amount of time and effort they expend on their hair is weirder, and you wonder what you were ever thinking. It's not a coincidence that many Buddhist monks shave their heads. I like to think it gives a form-as-function minimalist outlook to the rest of my life.

Or something. Actually I don't think about it ever any more, which I guess is the point. I may well look like a hairless gorilla doorman in a suit.
posted by cromagnon at 1:57 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another bald guy. I give myself a Number 1 buzzcut (the shortest guard setting) every two weeks, which is about the easiest option; not much effort, doesn't look like you're in denial. I shaved my head completely in the past (before I was bald) and it's a bit tedious to keep up, plus I find it gets a bit itchy after a couple of days.

One important thing to remember is that the people around you mostly just don't care. It might feel like a big deal to you, but two minutes after they've met you, for most people it will just never cross their mind that you're bald.

With women, at a rough guess maybe 5% find it sexy and 10% find it unsexy, but again for most women it's not even a big deal.

You don't need to worry about it. Don't make unprompted self-deprecating jokes about it, because people won't even have it in mind until you've reminded them.

Very occasionally your guy friends may joke about it, but that's just part of normal guy joshing. Usual rules apply there. Don't act like it's got to you. Best defence is a good offence, respond with another jokey insult "well I may be bald, but at least I wouldn't buy a jacket like that, did you get it at Goodwill?". But you might want to keep a few defensive lines handy too. "Yeah, all that testosterone, man", "You know what they say: grass doesn't grow on a busy street" etc.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:27 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

To join the chorus: My extremely thick head of hair started thinning out by 21, by 23 there was no doubt I was balding, and by 25 it was gone. I'm between a 6 and 7 on that scale now.

I waited a long time (until I was 28) to finally shave it - and the amount of compliments I got when I finally did removed any doubt whatsoever that it was the right move. Seriously, everyone I knew mentioned how much better it looked. Including lots of women.

Now, I shave it, and I rock a full beard (because of course I have no problem growing hair on my face). If I were a thinner man, I would probably go with the Jason Statham look (i.e. stubble that is the same length all over - chin to crown) but I find that a longer beard and shaved clean head looks better on me.

If you're concerned about trying out the completely shaved look - it does grow back. No, seriously, I was kinda irrationally concerned about this, so in case you are, let me reassure - it does grow back if you shave it off. Too damned fast, actually. I go from clean shaven to what would be a #1 trim in just over a week. So try shaving it, let it grow out, and see where along the way you think suits you best. (my gf is especially fond of the 3 day shaved-to-light-stubble period, she loves touching my head then, which is pretty good incentive to keep it shaved anyway).
posted by namewithoutwords at 4:09 AM on November 21, 2011

I am the 5%.

Yeah, and the look keeps its hawtness through middle and into old age. Think Patrick Stewart and Sean Connery. Hawt.
posted by likeso at 4:12 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

LOVE "dying it clear".

I'll join the chorus that thinning and bald can be totally hot. As is so often the case, confidence is what conveys attractiveness. Own the fact that your hair is on its way out, find good grooming options that take that into consideration, love your body and take good care of it, and dress yourself in a way that shows your pride in your appearance. Then: Ladies, the line forms to the left... ;)

Seriously, from the chick perspective, thinning and baldness is no big thing. Don't let it get you down.
posted by Sublimity at 4:53 AM on November 21, 2011

1 - Own it early: I faffed around with "strategic" haircuts for way too long [not literal comb-overs, but I could see how one gets started]. Nothing reduces your self confidence more than a continual fear of being found out.

2 - Bummer: You used to be able to look good using your hair. Now you no longer can. That's a loss and a bummer but it's a fact. So, like you've realized, you can use your other aspects to look good.

3 - Three times and you're in: When you cut it, hair grows back. You're wondering about shaving your head completely. Have you seriously thought about it more than three times? Then do it. It'll grow back.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:55 AM on November 21, 2011

Listen to this song on a daily basis until you have fully internalized the message.
posted by tdismukes at 7:06 AM on November 21, 2011

Been balding for years. Just cut it off, I trim it down. Never had a problem, ever.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:27 AM on November 21, 2011

Dude, take ownership and FIRE IT BEFORE IT QUITS.
posted by resurrexit at 7:28 AM on November 21, 2011 [7 favorites]

Put another way--nothing turns a woman on more than watching a man deal with adversity well.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:39 AM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Another .02: Judging by the men in my mom's family, I will someday be joining your ranks as a bald man and have already started wearing a buzz cut to ease the transition into baldness as I age further.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:19 AM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's lot of good advice here. When I was feeling insecure about loosing my hair, I looked around and realized that there are score of bald and balding men and nobody thinks twice about it. I remember realizing this when I watched Woody Harrelson in that zombie movie.

Loosing hair is just one of the many many things that change with age. There are many positive things too. It is possible to become more well-read, better at what you do, better at expressing yourself and being genuine- i.e. building self-confidence and getting better at being a good and interesting person. For me, those is worth loosing some of the teenage good looks, and in fact, seem to be more significant in terms of being attractive.
posted by beau jackson at 8:46 AM on November 21, 2011

Hats and caps.
posted by lalochezia at 9:18 AM on November 21, 2011

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