Book Review: 3 Books for Men, Women and Children
Book Reviews: Hair Loss Books for Men, Women and Children
From a charming children's book, to more amusing and serious treatments of hair loss, these are three good reads.
Hair loss issues affect many people, so it’s not surprising that there exists any number of books on the subject. Let us look at three books that should be of interest to visitors to this site.
Bald: From Hairless Heroes to Comic Combovers
2005’s Bald: From Hairless Heroes to Comic Combovers is by Kevin Baldwin, whose name prompted the moniker “Baldy” long before he began to lose his hair. It’s an immensely entertaining read, although some who prefer to try hair restorative cures or to utilize varying hair systems may find Baldwin a bit scornful of their efforts. In particular, Baldwin has some harsh, if decidedly amusing, words for practitioners of the ancient art of the comb-over.
But Baldwin’s words are indeed amusing, and it’s this humorous approach, rich in an appealing deadpan wit, that will likely keep people reading on, even as Baldwin offers up opinions with which they may disagree. Beyond the humor, Baldwin has also done an admirable job in terms of research. He offers a great amount of information on the history of baldness, including many of the strange theories about what causes hair loss. For example, did you know that Professor G.H. Wheeler, in an 1899 tract, posited the theory that baldness was due to too much bicycling? Well, either that or not urinating frequently enough.
Baldwin also lets us know that playing brass instruments, having too much sex, overdoing the fish intake, not breathing properly and simply thinking too much can make your hair go south – or so we’ve been led to believe at various points in time.
There are plenty of fun facts about cures (don’t even try the bat milk scalp massage, and please, please don’t consider the castration option) and snappy comebacks to comments about baldness (“They don’t put marble tops on cheap furniture”), as well as reasons why bald is better than hirsute (you can’t have a bad hair day, for example).
But underneath all the humor is a serious intent: to convince men to celebrate, rather than disguise, their baldness. “A lack of hair may even become a symbol of comradeship and solidarity, of pride and self-definition,” Baldwin states.
It’s a laudable sentiment – and one worth thinking about.
If Your Hair Falls Out, Keep Dancing
Also written in a lightly humorous style but with a more consistently serious intent is 2008’s If Your Hair Falls Out, Keep Dancing, written and illustrated by Leslie Ann Butler. Butler, who has Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss, sometimes over the entire body, wrote this book especially to help women deal with this situation.
A breezy 120 pages, several of them illustrated with Butler’s bold, evocative paintings, Keep Dancing is essentially a “how to” book. There’s plenty of useful information about Alopecia areata itself, including the surprising information that as many Americans (5,000,000) deal with some form of this disease as deal with the much better known psoriasis. There’s a significant amount of practical information on everything from how to choose a wig to special make-up tips to how to tell people about your alopecia to a helpful list of resources.
Of equal importance, Butler moves beyond the practical to confront the psychological issues that confront every woman who loses her hair. She knows firsthand how devastating this can be, especially in a society which places such a huge emphasis on women’s looks in general and on their hair in particular. Although her book is written in an upbeat manner, she doesn’t downplay the deep emotions that naturally arise in this situation and encourages women to allow themselves to grieve for their loss.
However, she equally feels that a woman cannot let Alopecia ruin her life. She fervently wants every woman to find a way to move forward so that her life is not defined by an incessant desire to be the way she was before. Instead, Butler encourages women to accept what has happened and to build a life that is as full and fulfilling as that of any woman with hair.
Smart and sharp but definitely friendly, If Your Hair Falls Out, Keep Dancing is a valuable book for any woman facing hair loss.
Dad’s Bald Head
Finally, there’s Dad’s Bald Head, a charming children’s book from 2007 that’s written by Paul Many and illustrated by Kevin O’Malley. This is the perfect book for those who have both young children and hair loss, especially if they are considering making a willing transition from “balding” to “bald.”
Dedicated in memory to Many’s father, “who by his own proud example taught me everything I know about balding,” the book tells of young Pete, who enjoys doing everything together with his father, but who, “when it came to combing hair…had to comb his alone.” Pete’s father has hair, but only a patch on top and a ring around the sides. Still, Pete is shocked when, one morning, his father lathers up his head and removes all his remaining hairs. But after getting used to it – and especially after seeing pictures of his father from times when he had lots of hair, which makes him look VERY different indeed – Pete realizes that how a person looks changes over time; just because his father looks different now, it doesn’t mean that he’s changed where it counts.
Many’s prose is catchy and lands just right on young ears, and he gets his message across without unnecessary sidetracks. O’Malley’s pictures are a definite asset, colorful and lively without being distractingly detailed.
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