It's a Guy Thing

Be bold ─ go bald!

Looking back, when I had hair I wasn’t that adventurous with its care or presentation. I usually used whatever was available bath-side and simply combed it from a side parting on the left to the right. Yet I kind of felt pretty attached to it and didn’t really appreciate it until I discovered that I was losing it.

That terrorizing moment occurred during a night turn in the police when a passing colleague remarked as I sat at the briefing room table, “Kirkey you are losing your thatch!” I felt compelled to immediately register my appreciation of his personal feedback and told him to fuck off! I was around twenty-six years old and, according to my dad, I looked like Freddie Mercury with my compulsory police-issue mustache. 

Nonetheless, this seemingly errant comment played on my mind ─ since my old man was beginning to thin on top too – and when I knocked off duty I did a thorough examination with the aid of two mirrors. Everything appeared good to go on top and my earlier retort appeared wholly reasonable. Indeed, I should have added “wanker.”

A month or two later my worst fears were acknowledged when my barber confirmed the earlier prognosis with a not-so-reassuring professional assessment, “You are thinning on top.”

The years that followed engaged with denial, deception, and dismay. Finally, in Beijing, China, some fourteen years later, I entered the final, liberating phase – demolition – whereupon I shaved the whole thinning lot off, along with the smudge above my top lip. I vividly remember the feeling as I walked nonchalantly around the street market, continually touching my peachy head. This trigger point followed years of cutting my hair short – usually to a Number 1 – but that morning in the mystic Far East I looked in the mirror and was finally tired of the break of dawn mad professor look for the last time. Since this defining moment I have never felt so confident in my own skin, and, on reflection, I have to question why I struggled to accept my hair loss? I feel that my totally shaved look better suits me, and I think I look years younger. So, if you are a man facing this dilemma, or fear its potential arrival, join me in this analysis of the attachment to the mane, and let me show you that going bald is a chance to be bold!

There are a variety of reasons why men lose hair, including stress, genetics, poor care, diet, certain hairstyles, and a few others. Personally, on balance, I suspect it was hereditary, or more likely male pattern baldness – the most common type of hair loss that develops in most men at some stage of their lives. Whatever the cause it was unstoppable, and the psychological pain was real.

In 2005 a cohort of researchers, led by Mariola Alfonso, examined the psychosocial impact of hair loss among men across Europe. Acknowledging that hair plays a significant role in determining self-image, social perceptions, and psychosocial functioning, my own heartache was endorsed by the intelligence collected from over one thousand five hundred blokes aged between eighteen and forty-five. Over 70% of these men reported hair to be an important feature of the image, and 62% agreed that hair loss could affect self-esteem. In a tad, over 40% the penny drop moment that they were losing their hair was inextricably linked to concern about losing an important part of personal attractiveness. An equal number were fearful of becoming bald, whilst 22% believed that hair loss would negatively impact upon their social life. Frighteningly, 21% felt utterly depressed. 38% of single lads also disclosed diminished self-confidence in personal attractiveness. I was surprised to learn that less than 10% of men had pursued treatment for hair loss, and 75% of my fellow baldies had never pursued any treatment whatsoever. That trickle of men who had undergone treatment nonetheless reported success. Although to be fair, the research team accepted that self-reporting had its limitations. Perhaps there should have been a control question along the lines of “how big is your cock?” No doubt the average data would have been in excess of six inches, thus discrediting this particular element of the comprehensive ─ yet pretty depressing ─ study!

Looking back, I wished that I had been able to talk to other guys who had successfully negotiated the bonce becoming bereft of natural cover ─ a wise sage who could have extolled the virtues that I now fully embrace as an upstanding egghead. Guys, it isn’t all doom and gloom! To academically prove my point and provide a short-cut to embracing baldness, I give you scientist Albert E. Mannes who, whilst at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, concluded in the catchy piece, “Shorn Scalps and Perceptions of Male Dominance,” that men with shaved heads were rated as more dominant than similar men with full heads of hair. In a complementary study, he concluded that men whose hair was digitally removed were perceived as more dominant, taller, and stronger than their authentic selves. Completing a full follicle takedown, fellow baldy Albert discovered, whilst employing non-photographic stimuli, that men experiencing natural hair loss may improve their interpersonal standing by shaving completely. Fellas, if that isn’t convincing enough, in 2014 psychologist Ronald Henss of the University of Saarland, Germany, conducted global research involving more than 20,000 subjects, announcing that bald men are perceived to be older, more intelligent, and wiser. On the contrary, men with patterned baldness, unlike their completely bald brothers, are far from being attractive. Participants in the same study stated that they found partially bald men, or those chaps with bald spots, to be less attractive and perceived them as being weaker compared to completely bald men.

So, it would appear that I eventually called it right – but for years I lived with the fear of a sudden gust of wind, and the often-pathetic attempt to maximize the coverage of the dome with limited resources. It may be easier for me now to announce my verdict, but freedom from the cosmetic and emotional struggles comprehensively defeats any short-term embarrassment or regret. And if you are at this crossroads, or fear that it’s on the horizon, look no further than some of our more famous baldies ─ badass and beautiful too ─ Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, LL Cool J, and more. Indeed, many more, as The Top Trends Guide to the sexiest bald men confirms.

Before my research recedes much more, I’d like to introduce you to the Bald Brothers ( whose mission is simply to create, “The place where we show you how to live life as proper bald men.” A great place to visit if you feel anxious or alone about any hair-raising issues. And as the wise baldies proclaim, “Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man – there’s your diamond in the rough.”

© Ian Kirke 2023 / @ianjkirke