Whether Bald Is Beautiful Depends On How You Define It
A 2008 survey asking what makes a man attractive reaches some very interesting conclusions when it comes to hair loss.
When speaking about a man with thinning hair or various stages of hair loss, it’s not at all unusual to hear that he “suffers from hair loss.” While those who are comfortable with their hair status (and especially those who may prefer the term “scalp status”) may take exception to the word “suffers,” for others it is a very apt choice of words. Many men with hair loss issues do indeed feel as if they are suffering. They feel they are experiencing a change over which they have little, if any, control, and it can have a huge impact upon them.
This impact is perhaps felt most forcefully in a man’s perceptions of his physical attractiveness. If dates have been known to “ooh” and “ah” when running their fingers through his thick hair, he may wonder how they will feel about the thinness of it now. Will people find his pate appealing as more and more of it sees daylight? If he wears a toupee and begins what promises to be a lengthy relationship, will that relationship end when the time comes for him to reveal that his hair is not all his own?
It’s perfectly normal to have these concerns, particularly in a society which equates physical appearance with quality and desirability. Everywhere we turn, we see billboards, computer screens, televisions, magazine ads and even elevator media featuring young, healthy, sexy and usually hair-bestowed men. There are the rare advertisements that position a bald man with sex appeal, but most that feature the hair challenged do so in a manner that suggests that someone without a full head of hair is unfortunately different from the norm.
With this bombardment of anti-balding messages, it’s easy to see why a man with more and more hair in his comb and less and less on his head might feel insecure about his looks. But is it true that people place such a premium on a man’s hair when assessing his physical allure ?
According to one recent study, the answer is an overwhelming “no.”
Hair loss, men and attractiveness: The survey
Synovate, a global marketing intelligence company, conducted a survey in 2008 which examined the concept of male beauty in 12 different countries around the world. The company interviewed 10,000 men and women, asking questions to gauge their perceptions of what was attractive in a man, how men felt about their looks, which countries produce the most attractive men, etc.
Part of the survey involved asking people to list which items were considered necessary in order for a man to be considered good looking. Take a moment and try to guess what percentage of respondents indicated that a “full head of hair” was a requirement.
Got your answer ready? Alright. What do you think was the response? As high as 90%? Perhaps 50%? Could it be as low as 10%?
In fact, the answer is that a barely noticeable 1% of survey respondents think a man needs to have a luscious head of hair to look good.
According to this survey, having hair is much less important than other attributes – such as good hygiene, which received 34% of votes from women surveyed. Women also favored a man who carries himself with confidence (20%), and a man who dresses well (14%).
Losing hair: Not getting older, but getting better
By the way, American women tend to come from the “you’re not getting older, you’re getter better” school when it comes to men: 77% responded that they think a man’s looks improve as he ages. Since hair loss becomes more likely as a man gets older, this also bodes well for those who are balding.
In addition, the survey indicated that there is a geographic component to how a man feels concerning his looks. For example, 81% of Greek men surveyed, as well as 80% of Russian men and 78% of South African men, think they are sexy. By contrast, only 22% of Malaysian men consider themselves sexy. (Overall, only 49% of all males surveyed classified themselves as appealing in this way.)
When asked to name the country with the best looking men, Italy came out ahead with 11%, followed by a three-way tie for second between the United States, Russia and Brazil, each at 8%.
The Synovate study is only one survey, and surveys are of course imperfect. But it is undeniably striking that baldness, which is so often viewed as something that must be avoided, simply wasn’t viewed as being very important by the respondents. It’s also striking that carrying oneself with confidence was rated so highly. These two findings suggest once again that physical appeal is less a matter of looking like some ideal manufactured by the advertising industry and more a matter of feeling comfortable with yourself.
For men with hair loss issues, that means finding the look that satisfies you and you alone – and then accepting that it will satisfy others. Those who please themselves and believe inside themselves that they are sexy have won the battle.
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