Coping with balding at 19.
January 20, 2008 6:59 AM   Subscribe

I'm losing my hair at 19 and I'm becoming an emotional wreck. A different person. How do I cope with this and become my old confident self again?

My hair started to slightly thin at 18 but I was never overly concerned about it. I had a girlfriend who thought I was the best ever and I managed to not let the issue really bother me. However, during and after the stressful breakup of this relationship it rapidly picked up the pace (it really did speed up all of a sudden, it wasn't just a change in perception because I was suddenly without someone to tell me I was cute all the time) My hairline receded slightly and it just generally thinned out on top a lot. I used to have very thick hair and now it is more stringy-like. Judging from a few people in my family, most of it will probably dissapear. I'm the only one I know of though that started so early.

I started using Rogaine, not with the hope of anything growing but just in an attempt to slow it down a bit. I'm aware the only other thing that might work is Propecia, but I'm not about to use that stuff. Too many weird side effects. The long term ones aren't even fully known. I just don't want to go there. Wigs and transplants and all that weird stuff are out of the question.

Unfortunately, I really started to think about it. I constantly look at my hair in the mirror. Worry about it. I absolutely hate it.

I began searching for support online. Found all the advice of "just shave it when it starts looking weird and be confident!" All the girls that said bald men could be sexy. Confidence and personality matter. I felt relief. But only for a second.

The truth is, I'm one of the guys that the "shave it, but only if your head isn't a weird shape" comment applies to. I have a big ridge at the top of my head. It's basically pointy. My past girlfriend noticed it by touch and would lovingly joke about it. People always go "woah, weird..." when I comment about it and they feel it.

I cut my hair down to a 4 just to try to judge the shape of it, convince myself it wasn't as bad as it felt. I put a bunch of gel in it and matted it down just to judge the shape (I know, I know) And, sure enough, I resemble a conehead. On top of that I'm a skinny white guy.

That brings me to where I am now. I feel uglier than I ever have and I feel hopeless about the future. The fact is I will become less and less attractive through thinning and if I shave it off I have a good chance of looking pretty weird.

I've always felt reasonably attractive other than the times I was suffering some bad acne in highschool. I know I'm a decent looking guy. I was never the perfect 10 hunk, but I've always been attractive enough to draw some attention from the occasional lady and then win them over with my personality. All the girls I've dated have been decently attractive, with the last one especially being just absolutely gorgeous. I'm not shallow either. I value personality a lot and I'm aware that looks can only get people so far.

However, I feel that looks DO matter and thats why this is distressing me so much. Especially at my age. I know people will say "everyone is different and likes different things and find different people attractive." This is only true to a degree though and I feel its naive to deny this. I know I've heard of research that shows people usually end up with those that are of similar general attractiveness. Yes, theres some leeway to account for personality and circumstance. Yes, some people have fetishes for 400lb women. But in general, I feel its accurate to say people usually bat within their own league. And I've also heard, and found, that in general, NOT EVERYTIME (I really hope I don't piss people off), that more attractive people are often better adjusted, more comfortable in their skin, have healthier relationships etc. I'm talking in generalities, I definitely don't mean everyone. I'm not a shallow person. I just want to attract girls I find attractive, but I feel I have to be able to attract them somewhat physically before they can find out I'm a great guy and before I can judge if they're good people themselves.

I feel like I wont be able to attract the caliber girls I'm used to; both personality and look wise. At least it will be A LOT harder. I feel like my youth is being stolen from me. And I feel like theres absolutely nothing I can do about it. Almost every other guy I know has a full head of hair and is free of this burden. I remember how it felt to be like that. I should be enjoying my much clearer skin and working out and becoming MORE attractive, not slowly spiraling downward. What the hell happened to my prime? I'm also pissed about my head shape. At least if I had a normal attractive looking head I could go gracefully and probably not damage my look too bad. I really just want to fall in love with someone who I'm physically attracted to and who I think is the coolest person ever and have the feeling be mutual. I feel like this is going to be a lot harder to find and that really bums me out.

I know there's nothing I can do about the hair. But how do I cope with this? How do I feel attractive again? Most importantly how do I feel hopeful for the future? I know I don't look too bad now but I feel like my clock is ticking. I don't want to be that guy who freaks out every time some hair falls out. I also know that since I'm losing some looks I need to be even more confident and charming and funny and whatnot, but how can I be confident when I don't feel attractive or desirable? I'm not proud of the way I look anymore. I've tried positive talk but I just feel like I'm lying to myself. In all honesty I'm becoming very obsessed about this and I can feel myself becoming very depressed. I'm not usually a sad depressed person. I don't want to be this way at all.

I know this is a common problem. I would love to hear some stories from people who have gone through this at a similar age. I've just never felt so shitty about myself in my life and I can only see the tunnel getting darker.

I'm sorry this is so long. And I'm sorry if I sound like an insecure whiny wussy man. I'm not usually like this. Every hardship I've encountered in my life I've pushed through full throttle and with optimism. My acne. I had some bad social anxiety in dating situations that held me back for a bit. But I knew these were things I could overcome and I eventually did. With this though my rational brain is telling me, "this is the rest of your life buddy, say goodbye to the great times and hello to some major hardship and romantic difficulty."
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (55 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
A side issue: are you sure the ridge will show? My husband, also a skinny white guy who started losing his hair early, has a ridge on the top of his skull, too -- I can feel it, and just by touching it I would think it would be freakishly large. But it doesn't show, and he shaves his head. (And he's very easy on the eyes, even with no hair, and even though his cool hairstyle was a big part of his appeal when we first got together.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:07 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Whut? More attractive people are better adjusted? To what? Having things done for them because they look good? I think "ugly" people are better adjusted, they have learned more social skills to compensate for their lack of beauty in a shallow society.

Dude, women are not generally as shallow as men about looks. Your obsession with your hair is going to drive them away, not the lack of hair itself. Who wants to be with a guy looking at his reflection at every opportunity to notice his lack of hair? Why don't you cultivate good social skills and use this as an opportunity to not judge people on looks alone? I think that is your real fear--that people will be as shallow toward you as you apparently can be toward them. Your self confidence needs a boost with tangible assets--are you kind? Are you smart? Do you appreciate the people in your life? Are you fun to be around? These things matter more than hair.
posted by 45moore45 at 7:09 AM on January 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

Have you seen a doctor? This might be something other than family genetics at this age.
posted by konolia at 7:13 AM on January 20, 2008

You are likely going to be bald eventually, so I would bite the bullet and really shave it. I can almost guarantee that the ridge of your head isn't as bad as you think. The earlier you start becoming confident that you are not the product of your hair or head shape, the better you are going to be. It will suck for anyone you date with you constantly worrying about the shape of your head, so get over that and you will attract people who just don't think this aspect of you is important. If anyone would feel it is important, well then they really weren't the person for you, n'est pas?
posted by qwip at 7:19 AM on January 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

My advice is not to be that guy in college who is always, always wearing his ball cap. I had a friend like that, and, once, not knowing what it meant, I playfully snatched his hat off. He looked injured, and I felt terrible. But I wouldn't remember him for his balding today if he hadn't always been wearing that hat.

I'd seek the advice of a stylist. Possibly your "ridge" is not as prominent as it seems to you, and shaving is in fact the answer.

Best of luck. If it helps, I find it charming when a guy addresses baldness full-on with a shave or another style that makes no bones about it.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:23 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here's the deal: You can't change what happens in your life, but you can change how you react to it.

I understand your plight. My own boyfriend is sort of losing his hair too AND he has horrible, flaky dandruff. and to top it off, my own hair is turning grey. I'm 27 and otherwise, pretty damn good looking by all usual standards. Do I worry too that men won't find my attractive and that my fucking hair will drive them away? Yes! But can I do my best and minimize the situation by dying it and realizing that there's more to me than my head?


SO, I'd suggest for you, if you want ladies to recognize your inner personality AND your dashing good sexy looks, then quit focusing on your hair. See if you can find a solution to at least stave off the loss- like Take Rogain for a short time, see if your water or soaps are effecting your skin, consult a dermatologist and a doctor, and relax. Stress isn't sexy at all. Fun and confidence are more of a turn-on than anything you could ever have or buy.

And, as far as social stuff, I'd suggest for you to join a club at college or a community group and watch the ladies flock. OR even invest your time in something like Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Witnessing the problems that some kids have might make you realize what all you have going for you. And, honestly, my friends and I prefer men who are actively involved in causes they believe in than some idiot who spends all his time at home. Women sometimes, honestly, care more about what's in a man's head than what sits on top of it.
posted by mimikachu at 7:35 AM on January 20, 2008

Seconding the idea of seeking the advice of a stylist. They'll steer you in the right direction.

You say that attractive people are more comfortable, confident, and have healthier relationships. But I think it's the opposite...a person who's comfortable, confident, and healthy appears more attractive. Never, never, never underestimate how sexy confidence is. Even if you do have trouble attracting the "caliber" of woman you're used to in the way you're used to attracting her, there are other ways. Instead of pulling them in with your looks, join an organization. Let them get to know you on a platonic level, and then move things along once they know your personality and you know theirs. Or, you could give women the same open-mindedness you hope they'll give you. Realize that your dream woman might be carrying 15 extra pounds, an odd birthmark, or have some other minor cosmetic flaw.
posted by christinetheslp at 7:41 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm also voting for shaving it, I can't recall ever seeing a skinny white guy with a bald head who looked strange.

And listen to what people are telling you about girls not caring so much about looks and caring more about confidence. I'm one of those girls.
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 7:46 AM on January 20, 2008

Does this help?

Seriously, dude, it's not nearly as big a deal as you think it is. We're not just saying that.
posted by mpls2 at 7:48 AM on January 20, 2008

I came in to say exactly what 45moore45 said. Less-than-conventionally-attractive guys have it waaay easier than less-than-conventionally-attractive girls. Just be yourself and have some confidence.
posted by AV at 7:50 AM on January 20, 2008

I'm quite sure that you look just fine. But my hair has also started thinning rather rapidly (never thought it would as my mom's dad had thick hair til he died in his mid 80's).
My point (and it's not on my head) is that, as trivial as it may sound, I don't think most people understand how traumatic hair loss is.
I honestly would have preferred to lose a few fingers!
Do NOT wear a rug, they almost always look bad.
Remember that many guys your age (and I don't mean skinheads) shave their head for aesthetics. Of course you are concerned with the shape of your skull more than anything it seems. A barber/hair stylist will usually level with you, but I don't think this is even in the realm of a morbidly obese woman (my dear cousin is one, and only attracts a certain, unsavory, type of man. That's more of a perversion type thing, almost always [deviantly] sexual in nature.)
I say shave yr head and give it a few months, you'll 'grow' used to it and those meeting you for the first time won't imagine you any other way.
You might round it off with a neatly trimmed goatee for a dignified look.
Sorry to rant, w/o really offering solutions. But you are no wuss, this is not a trivial thing. On the positive side, women aren't nearly as picky as men are re 'looks'. What I mean is, they aren't so shallow as we guys tend to be. (About themselves perhaps, but not their mates.) Of course that is open to misinterpretation, but I think most would back me up. Anyone? Bueller?
posted by dawson at 7:53 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

after the stressful breakup of this relationship it rapidly picked up the pace (it really did speed up all of a sudden, it wasn't just a change in perception because I was suddenly without someone to tell me I was cute all the time)

This makes me wonder if it's telogen effluvium, which is hair loss that can be caused by severe stress - but grows back. I strongly suggest that you see a dermatologist, who can diagnose the cause of hair loss, before totally freaking out about it.
posted by amro at 8:12 AM on January 20, 2008

I'm guessing that most women are shorter than you. Therefore they are not immediately going to notice a ridge on top of your head.
posted by desjardins at 8:25 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would love to hear some stories from people who have gone through this at a similar age.

Here ya go.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:41 AM on January 20, 2008 [7 favorites]

Addressing the "romantic difficulty" angle:

You are seriously overestimating baldness as a factor in attraction. I married a bald man, and almost all of my friends have commented about how good-looking he is, something they never said about my also-attractive full-head-of-hair boyfriends of the past. My husband has a lot of confidence, and is really nice to the ladies, and guess what--it makes him attractive to them.

Also, someone has already noted this, but if you date women who aren't tall enough to see the "ridge" on your head, it won't be an issue.

I do think that shaving your whole head is a good idea. The top-only baldness doesn't look as good, I don't think. Maybe for older guys, but for a younger man, I think totally bald is better.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't talk about it at all, but when you are getting interested in or involved with a woman, probably the most unattractive thing you can do is let her know that this bothers you at all. Straight men who talk about the way they look come across as weird, I think. And it puts the woman in an awkward position, kind of like the position a man is in when a woman is constantly asking him "Does this make me look fat?"

Act like you are totally comfortable with the way you look, and people will treat you better.

Good luck learning to love the new you.
posted by tk at 8:46 AM on January 20, 2008

What's really unattractive is fake. Full hairy head? Go crazy. Going bald? Cut, buzz, or shave as desired. Just don't do the weave/comb-over/whatever thing. Ugh.

My recommendation is to embrace what makes you different. Fashion and style are, after all, what you do and not what you wear or how you look. Being a teenager is largely about fitting into a crowd and, sooner than most people your age, you're having to deal with standing out from the norm a bit. Which way from the norm you want to go is up to you, but I recommend confident, stylish, and sexy.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 8:54 AM on January 20, 2008

Most women are shorter than you. They won't notice, and they definitely won't care. Remember too, that while you are dealing with this, many other men are dealing with back hair, small penises, weird chest hair, love handles, backne, butt acne, butt hair, ugly scaly feet, gray hair, wrinkles, cellulite, potbelly, gas (beer and chili fries, anyone?), saggy tits, weight gain, scrawniness, mutant scars/moles/birthmarks, jock itch, STDs, athletes foot, impotence, emotional damage, addiction, infidelity, and myriad other problems...many of them permanent.

The truth is, we get older, and we all got something special going on. If your pointy head is the peak (ha!) of your concerns, then you're way ahead of the game. Trust me. Men ain't pretty*, and women (even hot women) love 'em anyway!

*Believe me, I could write a list just as long about women's prettiest angles too.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:03 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here's the deal: You can't change what happens in your life, but you can change how you react to it.

Yes. Shave your head already and get a hobby to keep you from obsessing so much. Maybe you make a rule for yourself that every time you feel bad about your looks you go to gym and work out. Then you are bald and ripped. I don't know but I think that might be a pretty successful combination.
posted by LarryC at 9:19 AM on January 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

Dude, it's not your bald head, it's your solar sex panel!

Look at the pointy ridge on this freak's bald dome. No woman in her right mind would EVER find him attractive... OK, yeah, so he's got the body and the money and the talent, but he started going bald early too. That adorable little conehead just adds to his allure, IMO.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:21 AM on January 20, 2008

Deal with it. People respect a roll with the punches, I can handle anything sort of guy. Unless you are looking for someone who is shallow.
posted by gjc at 9:23 AM on January 20, 2008

Your solar sex panel is HERE. Although you can't go wrong with any John Hiatt song.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:25 AM on January 20, 2008

My hair starting thinning at age 20, on my 22nd birthday I just shaved it off. Chicks dig bald men. I met the woman who became my wife when she hit on me with the following line: "I have a thing for bald men." And she's really really hot. So anyway, learn to love your dome. Your hair is now part of your past. I can't even imagine what I would look like with hair these days.
posted by analogue at 9:31 AM on January 20, 2008

How about a little hat like this guy?
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:35 AM on January 20, 2008

Confidence is the sexiest thing out there. If you try to hide your hair loss, women will sense your lack of confidence around the issue, and feel bad for you. Pity=no sex. Shave it off, start going to the gym, and move on with your life: the women will come running. I'd say 'good luck', but you don't need it. You'll be fine.
posted by ms.v. at 9:46 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Shave. The pointiness isn't that big of a deal. You will be fine. People overestimate the effect of these things in their lives--hundreds of psychological experiments show this. You will be fine.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:58 AM on January 20, 2008

I was 19 when it became apparent that my hair was thinning, so I know where you're coming from. My wavy, auburn hair was my best feature. Old ladies stopped me on the street even into my late teens to tell me how beautiful my hair was. And then it thinned and I went bald. It's weird, it doesn't seem fair, and you feel like everyone's looking at your head all the time. They're not. They're wondering if you're staring at their giant noses, weird moles, slightly crossed eyes, giant visible scars, etc.

Alas, there's no better advice than "toughen up." Being a giant baby about it is going to repel infinitely more ladies (and, you know, everyone else) than graceful acceptance. Worrying about things you can't fix is pointless anyway.

Also: Shave it at least once. If the ridge is visible (and I'll bet you a dollar it isn't; I can feel all sorts of weird bumps and things on my head that smooth out into orderly simplicity with a crew cut), you can see if anyone else notices or cares (they won't).
posted by willpie at 10:30 AM on January 20, 2008

1) Mr. Kangaroo is bald except for a fringe going round his head. Before I reeled him in, I lusted after him ... deeply, longingly, with porn movie type dreams about him. I wanted to rub my hands over his head. I love his head to this day. What I really love is what's inside his head. The best girl for you is going to feel that way about you someday too. Any girl who doesn't love your head, inside and out, isn't worth wasting your time on.

2) Everyone has something about themselves they obsess over and want to change. Everyone. I used to hate the shape of my legs. I spent a lot of time trying to exercise them into the shape I thought was ideal. I barely ate for days on end. I looked at magazine ads, wishing I had those perfect legs like the models. This took up a lot of time, energy and thought. Then one day on a work assignment I met a 18 year old young guy - a quadraplegic, from being hit by a drunk driver. He told me that he'd give anything to be off the respirator - to be able to breathe on his own. I figured he'd want the use of his hands back more than anything, but no, he wanted to be able to breathe. Suddenly I felt really ashamed of how I'd been obsessing over what was to this guy, a perfectly healthy body. And I let the leg shape obsession just .. go.

You have to do that too. You just have to let it go. Yeah, it would be nice if you weren't losing your hair at 19 but get a grip - you've got EVERYTHING, don't you see that? You're smart, articulate, probably on your way to being very well educated, healthy and better looking than you think. Don't let this cripple you. Go volunteer at a childrens hospital once a week or at an old folks home. See if your hair matters so much after watching other people struggle with bad diseases, loneliness and chronic pain. I've read somewhere that if any random group of people were invited to put all their troubles in the middle of a circle and choose someone else's to take on instead, they'd all take their own back.

I don't mean to minimize the anguish you're obviously feeling. You're clearly in a lot of pain over this. But at some point, you've got to let it go, literally and figuratively, and move along, make something of yourself and don't let this be the excuse that holds you back. Go for the best job, the prettiest girl at the party, the receiver farthest downfield. Swing for the fences in everything you do. If you fail, so what? Just don't blame it on your hair.

Good luck.
posted by Kangaroo at 10:31 AM on January 20, 2008 [5 favorites]

Also: You sound like you're extrapolating dire consequences from relatively minor things. My hair is thinning and my skin is not so clear -> No one will ever love me honestly. That's a pretty big leap, and not a rational one. Maybe you're taking this breakup harder than you think? Maybe you're down in a way that is bigger than your breakup? It might be worth talking to a doctor/counselor/psychologist about some of these feelings.
posted by willpie at 10:47 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nthing that you're probably overestimating the ridge.

Also, my boyfriend was in an accident and had to have his head shaved and scalp cut across from ear to ear for a surgery, leaving a very obvious scar. He came from his small town to college a month later, with peach fuzz and a huge, noticeable scar across his head. I fell for him then and thought he was really hot regardless. His hair has grown back, but I still thought he looked great with no hair.

Also, you'll be surprised how the bald head will suit you once you've had it for a while. I know guys who started losing their hair in college and shaved it and they look better shaved, IMO.
posted by fructose at 10:52 AM on January 20, 2008

Read amro's link about telogen effluvium before doing anything drastic. Sounds like they'd want to look at some of your hair under a microscope, etc., so don't try to hide your condition before it can be diagnosed if you want to see a doc.

Otherwise, shave it and learn to love the new you. Honestly, it's repetitive advice, but what else are you gonna do? Hair plugs? Hair Club for Men? Hair in a Can? That way lies obsessive madness and you know it. The only way to move beyond this is to put the issue to rest. Don't be a guy who's losing his hair, be a guy who shaves his head. Do it now, get it over with, and welcome to your new, depilated lifestyle. So you've got a point on top of your skull... unfortunately if you were going to fix that you should have started years ago. You're not going to downplay it with skillfully applied makeup, so it's part-and-parcel of getting to know the new, bald you. You've been a lady-killing pompadoured swain for what, five years or so? You've got a good 60 to go yet, under somewhat varying field conditions. Get familiar with 'em.

Also, if this is really really eating you up, then I'll second willpie. Don't let this chew away at your sanity until it's developed into full-blown Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
posted by mumkin at 10:59 AM on January 20, 2008

In all my life, I don't know that I've ever looked at someone and thought, wow, he has a really weird shaped head. And if I were to think it, so what? It's easy to get an idea in your mind about how you look and hold to it, but you have to learn how to let those things go. When I was little, I thought or someone said I had big ears, and I held onto that for years, until one day I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, huh, ya know, even if they are big, I don't look totally ridiculous. And I put it behind me.

I go to a church with a lot of old men, and guess how many of them have hair? None. Think of how great it is that you're getting your mid-life crisis over early :-)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:12 AM on January 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Fuck hair, I never had it better. Bald is awesome, the greatest gift I ever got. I was all balled up about it around your age, too, but once you learn to own the shit out of it it works for you overtime.
posted by The Straightener at 11:21 AM on January 20, 2008

When you said "little hat" I immediately thought of

I used to make fun of Jamie Hyneman, but then I saw that he's like 52. I swear I thought he was a 30-something with a weird affectation. For a 50 something it's a slightly less weird affectation...
posted by gjc at 11:23 AM on January 20, 2008

In the minority here. While I HATE the comb-over (avoid this at all costs), but, I prefer the FRINGE look over the shaved head. I think shaved heads sometimes look a little skin-head-ish, while fringe really says self-confident, manly and sexy to me.
posted by marsha56 at 11:32 AM on January 20, 2008

Stop it. Just. stop. it.

Read what you wrote? Can you really understand it? It's like you're a 13 year old emo kid who spends his time writing bad poetry obsessing over Fall Out Boy and whether that hot girl in English class really notices you. It's almost as if you are thinking that if you change your nail color to navy blue instead of midnight night shade, that'll do the trick.

You're 19. It's time to grow up.

I started losing my hair at 17. By 19, I couldn't grow my hair to where I could cut it into a 4. Cutting to a 4 was a mistake - that's still an inch of hair left on your head and you probably just gave yourself a bad haircut. At an inch, a lot of heads look cone shaped and, in reality, you're the only one who is really going notice because you are the only one obsessing over your looks right now.

Ignore everyone who said "Shave It" because you're not there yet. If you shaved your head right now, you'll be so obsessed with your lack of hair and what people thought, you would end up in a coma or worse, on the Tyra Show. Instead, focus on what you can rock.

That's right - you need to figure out how to rock what you got.

Like you said, you already know you have better skin then the next guy. You can workout and get a better build. You can dress better, take care of yourself better, and look better. Focus on the things you have control over right now - forget about the hair for a moment. That will build your confidence to the point where you'll be able to put your hair in perspective.

I'm short so it's very obvious to women that I'm balding. Has that caused an issue? Yes. When I was 19, did I think that caused me a lot of issues? Yes. Now, at the age of 25, do I think losing my hair was the biggest problem for me when it came to girls? No - it was the fact that I was 19. We're all idiots at that age.

Focus on what you can rock right now - that is how you deal with losing your hair. You will always, ALWAYS, know that you have less hair than the guy next to you. You will always know that, in the summer time, you need to put on a little more sunscreen than the other guy at the beach. You will always think about your lack of hair. Your girlfriend, no matter who it is, will remind you of your lack of hair. She'll rub your head for good luck, she'll tell you that "all men go bald" or "bald men are sexy" but, you know what? That doesn't matter. The fact is that you know you're bald and that it annoys you and it's just somethin that you are going to have to deal with. And you do that by making sure that your gut is smaller than that guy with the full head of hair and your look is a tad more stylish. That's how you deal with the guy-vs-guy competition we all experience - you rock what you got.
posted by Stynxno at 11:37 AM on January 20, 2008

By the way, the reason I know about telogen effluvium (see my link above) is that I had it. Try being a single woman losing your hair.

It can always be worse.
posted by amro at 12:04 PM on January 20, 2008

Looks and confidence aren't necessarily connected. For that matter, there may be a minimal connection at all. The thing is, many people can tell when someone gets their confidence from their looks, and it's often off-putting to those who are looking for something more than a superficial connection with someone. And genuine confidence will probably do more for you than your hair alone ever could.

But looks do matter on some level, and fortunately, our looks aren't all contained in our hair. We all have something that isn't perfect that many good women are willing to overlook, because they don't put huge amounts of importance on them. I've met more than one woman who was crazy about the looks of their significant other who have long gone bald. When they've talked about it, it's because many features are often hair-independent. Facial structure and other things (and heck, even a guy's hands) can be a major turn on, to the point that it makes hair (and even the shape of the head) a non-issue. Now, not all women are like that. But not all women like every guy anyway, due to physical preferences. I don't think you a relegated to a life of loneliness.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:40 PM on January 20, 2008

Okay, so I used to have about 8 or 9 inches of hair. Pretty long for a guy. In the eighth grade I shaved it all off, and through my senior year of high school never let it get much longer than half an inch. Generally you could see my scalp, and a few times I actually hauled out the razor.

I did it because I didn't like hair, I didn't like the way people obsessed over it, especially as a sign of youth. Shaving it all off was to me symbolic of a sort of rebellious utilitarian ethos. In doing so, I assumed women would think I was older, but on whole be less attractive to them. I figured anyone who cared wasn't worth my time.

I'm 19 now, and I've let it grow out (my shears broke, and it was getting too annoying to keep it fully shaved, so I'm just letting it stay short). I thought I looked pretty cool. Most people (my girlfriend included) just didn't care one way or another. You are probably thinking about this much more than anyone around you. So, I'm just nthing the sentiment you should shave it and stop worrying.
posted by phrontist at 12:54 PM on January 20, 2008

I feel like I wont be able to attract the caliber girls I'm used to; both personality and look wise.

Possibly this is a poignant case of karma. Embrace the fact that looks fade and aren't that meaningful in the first place. Personality, confidence, and integrity are everything.
posted by Hildegarde at 1:36 PM on January 20, 2008

Shave it tonight. Women don't care and the ridge is normal.
posted by A189Nut at 1:37 PM on January 20, 2008

If a girl ever dumps you or won't go out with you because you don't have a full head of hair, she isn't the one for you anyway. It is cliche and all, but its true.
posted by slc228 at 1:48 PM on January 20, 2008

Speaking of Jean-Luc Picard aka Patrick Stewart (love that clip, 'corpse in the library'), I doubt you have a peak like Worf.
It occurs to me that (and I know this is a pat answer, but if you are in university, it's gratis) you may benefit from a shrink (I use the term lovingly). When I was in collage I went just because it was free, the docs were top-notch, and I had issues to work with (still do).
Also you might enjoy this site.
posted by dawson at 2:37 PM on January 20, 2008

The whole "baldness is unattractive" meme is, like the "men love women who look like they're suffering from anorexia" meme, completely a product of recent fiction and the popular media. It makes a great storyline on sitcoms, sells a lot of self-help books, creates an industry of expensive remedies that allows baldness to be treated as some kind of illness.

Man, it's not. Just look around you. The world is full of happy bald men in relationships (just as it's full of happy women in relationships who aren't a size 6). I can guarantee you that being someone obsessed about their hair, or lack of it, would be a lot worse for you than having a funny shaped head when you shave it. Just do it. It will take you all of about a week to stop caring so much about it once you do.
posted by Jimbob at 3:22 PM on January 20, 2008

Sounds like the social anxiety is coming back with a vengeance with something new and genuine to fuel it. I would see a stylist and a therapist, in that order. I mean, you wrote several paragraphs meant to convince us that you're an unlovable freak. You're not, of course, so that's probably depression or anxiety talking.

Get help, please. Good luck!
posted by sondrialiac at 3:25 PM on January 20, 2008

I have it on good authority that Justin Timberlake has a weird shaped head1 and no one seems to notice it when his head is shaved. And I bet the ridge on your head is also more noticeable to you than to anyone else. Also, I have at least 2 male friends in their 20's with thinning/bald heads and can honestly say that it's never once crossed my mind as something bad/ugly/or even all that noticeable at all.

1(one of the lead Toni and Guy stylists who had worked with him told me when I was at the London training academy)
posted by nerdcore at 4:22 PM on January 20, 2008

Even if all this generally good advice doesn't make you feel any better, you might take comfort in knowing that in another 6 months or year, you'll have adjusted and you won't worry about this anymore. When I first started noticing, I kinda freaked out. You just get used to it. It's really only a big deal to you.
posted by bluejayk at 7:18 PM on January 20, 2008

so this has been touched on a bit (find a distraction, get a hobby) but i would take a trip. your problem is a cultural one - outside of this culture, these standards of beauty, these expectations you have for youself, they are nothing. so get out of this culture.

it sounds like you're in a college, maybe study abroad or do a volunteer trip for spring break or the summer. head to south america or to africa - somewhere where you'll just be blown away by the differences and the diversity and the possibility in the world. if you can't swing that, go work on a farm or hike a bit of a mountain near you, go be in the woods. don't have time to get away? do it in small doses. volunteer with refugees and immigrants in your town, or spend some time playing with kids with physical disabilities or visiting with residents at a nursing home.

shave your head or don't shave your head (if you go south, you'll want to shave your head - it's hot!) being immersed in a new culture or a new experience, you'll start to question everything you've ever known, including your notions of beauty. but more than that, you'll be distracted with how much else there is that is important and wonderful and worth caring about. if you do volunteer or work on a farm or hike a mountain, your body will become something different for you. it's not just a physical representation of you. it's a tool, it's your tool for making food and planting trees and climbing up hills. your body is a wonderful thing. and if you end up volunteering with people with mobility issues, people whose bodies have really betrayed them, you'll get some good perspective.

and then go back to school. or to home. wherever. after awhile whatever newfound revelation you had will fade to the background, but when you're feeling bad about yourself, think about hiking or traveling or farming. think about the kids in wheelchairs or the seniors who need help getting to the toilet. think about what your body can do. think about what matters.
posted by sacho at 1:56 AM on January 21, 2008

My cousin was in the same boat. Shave your head, or buzz your hair very short. Do this regardless of how strange a head you think you have. I sincerely doubt your head is as odd shaped as you think it is.
posted by chunking express at 6:36 AM on January 21, 2008

IANB (I am not balding...), but I have never understood this one. My hair has been going white since I was in my early twenties, and I never batted an eye. Instead of hiding in your imagination, you need to get out and look around. I know short guys (like practically midgets) and bald guys who have awesome attractive and brilliant girlfriends and wives. Their secret was clear: they were decent people doing good stuff in the world and really living life. You should shave it or let it grow depending on what you think looks the best, and then go live your life. The women you come across on your travels will judge you on that. Are you going to be a character on TV? No, there are no balding nineteen years olds on TV, but we don't live on TV, so you're fine.
posted by history is a weapon at 7:16 AM on January 21, 2008

then work on beautifying other parts of your body to offset the baldness! Run, liftweights, and eat right!
posted by kowboy at 8:50 AM on January 21, 2008

More of the same....

I started thinning out at about 22. Tried the Rogaine deal. While it did keep the hair I had from falling out, it also hooked me up with a nice case of dry, flaky scalp. I ditched the Rogaine, my hair fell out, I shaved it all off and found it was the best thing I could have done. I spent far too much time worrying about it up to that point. I found that the lack of hair was really not big deal, other than a pain when you're out in the sun, as others have mentioned. Your focus on it will make it a bigger deal to you than it ever will be to anyone else.

As for the lumpiness, I've noticed that the lumps and bumps on my head felt like mountains but once uncovered, looked nowhere near as obvious. I myself rock some of the Shane Battier ridges. They feel to me like the grand canyon but aren't terribly noticeable in general to the eye.

Like others have mentioned, in a couple years, you'll ask yourself what all the fuss was about.

Good luck.
posted by MrToad at 1:30 PM on January 21, 2008

same boat here. started thinning out around 19, followed by the widow's peak, and center bulls eye bald patch in the middle.

i never shaved it off because of religious restrictions, but wouldn't have wanted to either (i think i have the wrong shaped head for that, and besides, it was cold where i went to college). instead, i grew it out long for a few months, just so i would know what it was like to have long hair. (it looked weird, since i already had the peak thing going. but the flip side was i learned i had wavy hair, which i had never known before, so i take it as a net win).

instead, i keep it cut pretty short, so there is no hint of combover or embarrassment. i use rogaine when i remember to keep up what i can. i tried propecia, it helped somewhat, but was mad expensive, so i stopped.

the most important thing, for me, however, is that i joke about it. to my friends, especially. not in a "im-really-obsessed-about-it-please-tell-me-it-looks-okay" sort of way, but more in a "im-okay-with-it-i-know-its-there-and-that-reminds-me-of-this-joke" sort of way. after a while, i just bought into all the jokes and started to see my baldness as a quirky addition to my personality/persone/person.

also - if you are still really bummed about your hair, go on a shopping spree for some snappy new clothes that make you feel confident and good about yourself. the worst that happens is that you have some nice, snappy new clothes.

(my other advice is probably a little less useful for you, but i started getting larger yarmulkes as my bald patch expanded to keep it covered. people thought i was getting more religious, but i was just keeping warm.)

If all else fails, you can keep in mind what my grandmother used to tell me:
Bald men are sexy because it means they use their brain a lot. Not sure that's sound anatomical reasoning, but it sure works for me.
posted by prophetsearcher at 2:07 PM on January 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Shave it! Number 2 or Number 1 on the clipper. Have not the balding, but the gray hair here and there... shave it. You'll get used to it. Cool chicks will dig it. I hadn't had my hair cut for 10 years, just pulled it back and cut of the excess... Biting the bullet and just shaving it all off, fantastic. Do It!
posted by zengargoyle at 3:00 AM on January 22, 2008

Let me tell you a quick story.

I fell in love with this guy when I was 16...we met at a climbing gym 2 hours from my home because it was the closest one, and i love climbing. he worked there and had long curly angelic hair. we developed a mainly phone relationship - just friends but we were extremely compatible, attracted to eachother, and both would've loved to be in a relationship if not for the distance. well after a while we stopped talking so much. then 3 years later i was looking for a reggae show one night and he told me there was one up by him, so i decided, what the hell i'm gonna go and visit him.

when i got there, to my surprise he no longer had the long curly locks, but was - gasp - balding. I'm not going to lie to you it was a shocker. And i'm also going to tell you at first i wasn't sure if i was ok with it - like you said you feel, he seemed like a completely different person (i know so far you're like, shit this isn't advice, but keep listening. it's good)

so there you're presented with your worst fear (imagine you're him). A girl of the physical attractiveness that he USED to get, being turned off by his early balding (he's 19 too btw).

THIS is where you can change what happens. JUST DON'T GIVE UP!

Anyone shallow enough to not give you the time of day isn't worth yours. So if you keep talking and getting to know a girl, she will do the same. And then voila, your personality sucks her in, and not only has the balding become less important and less noticeable, but now i find him SOOO sexy with his hair! i like it better than the long hair!

he is SUCH a good guy and the short hair - despite a receding hairline - looks as cleancut and well put together as he is inside. It complements him. And even though I know he's self-conscious about it because he's said so, he doesn't show it.

so be confident even if it's faking it for now. it's enough to make people not notice it, and soon you'll gain REAL confidence about it.

So in summation:

- hot guy used to get hot girls
- hot guy started balding early
- hot girl is turned off by his balding
- he doesn't let it get him down
- hot girl likes his confidence and personality
- hot girl stops noticing
- hot girl stops caring
- hot girl gets turned ON by his hair.
- hot guy that is balding can still get hot girls!

you see, even if a girl is turned off you can reverse it. GO FOR THE HOTTIES YOU KNOW AND LOVE lol, if you think you can, you can.

oh and his hair is down to like a...well idk the number but its' shaved pretty short and looks good (short enough to not add height but long enough to have a more solid color).

if you do some slight sideburns that'll look good too.

OH and one more thing, your height doesn't make a difference. everyone can see the top of your head. i'm REALLY short, and i can see the top of most people's heads. it's because of the sloping height, so don't worry about tall girls or anything.

PHEW! sorry about such a long post but i reeeeally hope it helps you!!!!!!! as long as you don't let it get you down it shouldn't!
posted by BethanySublime at 2:11 PM on January 31, 2008

I want to let you know that I have a friend (woman) who is actually turned on by bald men. If you'd like to talk to her then let me know.

Apart from that, IMHO, you are giving too much importance to something superficial. Sure you a little young and that makes more sense that you are so concerned but everything has its pros (you look more mature and make people take you more seriously, for instance).
If women are not giving you the time of the day because of this, why do you want to be with someone so superficial? Are these women going have doubts when you go bald at 40? Would you prefer they leave then?
posted by xm at 4:56 PM on December 28, 2008

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