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Issues on Parade

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daveyjonesL View Drop Down
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Joined: May 25 2007
Location: United States
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    Posted: May 25 2007 at 12:27pm
This lengthy letter is to Karen, and all guys who've been through severe hair loss, like me. Take it or leave it.

Dear Karen - I stumbled on your site on a search on "hairstyles men's", believe it or not looking for photo examples on how to style the expensive wig I just got finished having made, and thence stumbled on your 2005 article "Bald Men Are Hot!"  Though the article is two years old now, the topic seems to be timeless. Having gone through my own agonies with extreme hair loss, and solutions, I would like to  comment back. I hope, that some guys like me will feel vindicated for being so bold as to try a workable hair replacement solution.

I once again felt the bile start to rise upon reaching the comment in the article "...And yes, women would prefer that a man embrace his hair loss issues rather than hide behind a horrible comb over, cheap rug or poorly placed plugs..."  What irks me about this society when it comes to men's hair is the straightjacketing, never-ending double standard that guys have to endure with respect to hair loss. Those of us that aren't Bruce Willis that is. I happen to think black guys look dynamite with shaved heads. I think for the most part white guys look sickly and deficient with them, including myself. For me, severe alopecia was a trauma that probably rivals something like having half my faced ripped off in a car accident.  When I was in high school, I grew my hair halfway down my back, and in the guy category was voted (with zero effort or promotion on my part, I  was a flat-out hippie) "most beautiful hair". You can imagine it. So at when it started falling out in piles around 33, it hit me hard. Being a still  somewhat stage-ambitious musician added another dimension to the "issue".

But back to the double standard. The shop I had my wig designed from specializes not in "cheap rugs" but high-tech prosthetics especially catering to women who have lost their hair for some reason, and want something really good to replace it with. Having already tried, and failed,
with a partial "piece" about ten years earlier, I wrote to a number of these women customers to verify just how these replacements met their expectations, and they all raved about them. Their feedback only emphasized to me the freedom that women get in this society with regard to  hair replacement solutions vs. the scrutiny, sneering, wisecracks, eye rolling, etc, that guys who still want hair and try to do something about it have to endure. The fact that you even have an ongoing poll from women about their feelings about bald guys is an indicator. If it was all that insignificant, it wouldn't even rate an inch of type on your site. I wonder why there isn't a "how hot are bald women?" space in your site. And I wonder what the guys' responses would be. When  women go through severe hair loss, mainstream America overwells with sympathy and doesn't bat an eye about a woman getting an  appropriate wig designed, which she then wears everywhere. And a woman who didn't charge ahead and do something about her unfortunate but highly out-of-place hair loss would be looked at with wonder. One of my aunts was so traumatized by an engagement breakup  in her youth that all her hair fell out practically overnight. She wore a full wig the rest of her life, which I never knew until after she died. One of the gal wig-shop customers I surveyed  had lost all her hair in a severe case of measles, and she was so thrilled that the high-tech wig they made for her even passed the "invisibility  test" of her gradeschool students. You see, she can be thrilled without reserve. Whereas a guy confronting this society with such thrills has to be thrilled with reservation, and be on his guard. Especially against a-holes who find amusement ripping guy's wigs off in public places, like  one poor dude I read about who got caught in a dare between two such a-holes, and had to endure the consequences.

In the 1700's (the most beautiful time period for men's fashions in my view, and I am not gay), it was a given that when a man's hair started to really go, especially professional men who could afford them, they got fitted for a wig (or a collection of them), and wore it everywhere but to bed. This was the norm, and men weren't crucified for it. As far back as the 14th century, you find comments from peasants grumbling about how the French nobility liked to show off by NOT wearing headgear to cover their bald heads, simply to be conceited. I recently read a great account of Custer (of Little Bighorn massacre fame) which compared the "grimly enforced conventions" of white society then with that of their "savage" counterparts, the Plains Indians: " "Had his (Custer's) complexion been coppery instead of pink.." (which he tried to mitigate with hair styling and a hairpiece at one point) "... he would have earned no such ridicule. Indians found nothing ludicrous about a man attending to his hair. Quite the opposite. They looked upon hair, male or female, with admiration and respect. A nineteenth-century trader, Henry Boller, speaks of  seeing three Gros Ventre dandies who "...wear false hair ornamented with spots of red and white clay..." He describes Chief Four Bears  as a  tall, noble man whose black hair nearly swept the groundľ"an ornamental appendage valued almost beyond price"ľand there are reports of warriors with hair ten or fifteen feet long." [Son of the Morning Star, Connell 1984 pp345-346] Connell mentions that gorgious knee-length hair, or longer, was a standard feature of the Crow Indians. And these were men who could, from boyhood, endure superhuman levels of pain and toture with  barely a blink. I doubt if anyone gave these warriors any crap about "hair issues". There was one advantage Custer had with his at-massacre-time hair loss: the Sioux and Cheyenne it appears didn't think him  worth scalping, even for the notorious figure he was. His scalp would have definitely circulated, if it had been taken. I wonder if Custer was insulted.

I find it also wierdly ironic that in this dipstick society, where significant and ever-increasing slice of the population deals with their various "issues" by sucking down a suicide-inducing rainbow of psychotropic drugs (Prozac et al), and the other larger slice keeps a firm lid on their "issues"  with regular alcohol consumption, that somehow it is way out of line for a guy to not "embrace his hair loss" by trying to decorate himself  as he once was. I have gotten thoroughly used to dealing with a shaved head in stick-up-the-butt hypocritical corporate environments, because I haven't had an  alternative till now. Evidently my co-workers still think it's something that deserves attention though. At my recent goodby lunch, the lunch organizer crowbarred everyone into "thinking of one word that best describes <yours truly>", which is an exercise that could only be dreamed up by an MBA/manager type of course. Out of about 10 people, two of them, both guys, used the word "bald". One was a friend, the other not a  friend, and both with intact hair. And this was a well-wishing goodbye lunch! I'll let you guess at my emotions.

I read a comment once from a woman who had decided to get breast enhancements, after years of childbearing, etc. She ended by saying that good looking breasts were a gift a woman gives to herself, not just for others to look at. I though, Right On. Likewise, a nice hair frame for my face (again) is something I'm giving to myself. I also found it interesting that my kid, 12 years old, was excited as hell when he saw me in the yet-uncut-and-very-long wig, shouting "you look cool with hair!". Likewise my wife, who has fired many "just get over it!" comments at me over the years, revealed her true desires when my boy said "I hope you don't cut it too short..". She said "...yeah, I hope you don't either..".  So f**k it.

I am looking forward to getting everyone used to my outrageous white-guy hair solution, and tearing the thing off my head in the middle of expensive restaurants (with no tape or glue showing, as mine doesn't need any) and giving everyone something to gawk at. Maybe I'll do it at
my neice's bat mitzvah coming up, after putting blue streaks in it. Just for a gag. You  have truly gotten over your hair issues when you can do that, with an attitude. I commend any guy who has successfully embraced his hair loss issues, without sacrificing his integrity to himself that is. I just think I look lousy without hair, whatever women think. If I didn't still look so damn young, even at 50, I might not bother with it (the receptionist at my last job was floored when I told her I was 50..."I never would have guessed it in a million years!"). But what the hell. I've still got 20-30 years to go to aggravate Anglo society with my hair loss solutions.

I will say one thing to any guy inspired by this to follow his own desires and get hair replacement: get something that really looks good, and be able to laugh at yourself about it. It will never work for you if you can't laugh about it. Just keep making up jokes until you can. Good luck. I just wish the Indians were dictating men's hairstyles. Then they could tackle the inspiring suits/slacks/button-downs/polo-shirts fashion straightjacket that guys are in also, as opposed to kaleidoscope of fashions that women get to wear.

p.t., L.A. CA
"No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up." - Lily Tomlin
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