I have a confession to make.
Until recently I’d never given much thought to what it must be like for a guy to go bald. I suppose it’s not entirely unusual as I’ve never been a man, I’ll never have the equipment to be a man and in spite of all the trouble this female body has caused I’ve decided to carry on living in it.
Many of my male friends have lost their hair, some at a very early age, but I never stopped to think how it might have affected them. Now I realise it probably did affect them, it no doubt knocked their confidence and changed the way they thought about themselves – at least for a while. Most of them didn’t talk about it and I guess that’s because we still have some old-fashioned ideas about what ‘real men’ are like, what they talk about and which emotions they’re ‘allowed’ to express.
I wish all that nonsense about being strong, silent, macho, tough, etc, etc, etc, could be banished because the guys I know have the full suite of emotions, they’re eloquent and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to express whatever is on their mind without worrying whether or not its the ‘manly’ thing to do. I don’t care about manliness, I think its healthy to articulate thoughts and feelings rather than keeping them locked up inside. The act of saying what we think or feel goes along way towards building meaningful relationships, it helps us understand (and appreciate) each other a whole lot more and it facilitates the elimination of ignorance and misconceptions.
Even though guys can look good with shorn heads or no hair at all (think Stanley Tucci or Donald Faison) I imagine the process of losing their hair and knowing it will not regrow is pretty traumatic. Wayne Rooney said as much when talking about the reasons behind his hair transplant and James Nesbitt commented that his second transplant had changed his life and future career prospects.
Having now experienced losing my hair, all of it, I have a much better understanding of the emotions that go along with it. I know the ‘what the heck happened’ feeling when it looks like a horde of hungry moths descended during the night and chomped big patches at random. I know what its like to look in the mirror only to find a complete stranger looking back. These aren’t feelings that fill you with confidence, high self-esteem or super-hero strength. The whole thing takes a lot of getting used to even for someone like me who can get to the ah, Fec-it! place quite quickly. Even when you know the hair loss is temporary and the big C is presenting a whole range of other interesting topics to exercise the mind…
I’ve always known that contrary to common folklore, guys can have insecurities, crises of confidence and emotional wobbles; it’s never bothered me because we’re all human and these are natural reactions to some of the curve balls life throws at us. I suspect hair loss, especially for guys of a young age, is a pretty traumatic experience. If you can’t talk about it because society says that’s not manly it must be quite isolating too. From 2013 onwards I for one will be less ignorant and much more empathetic to the challenges hair loss presents for my male compatriots.