Maybe Having Hair Isn't All that It's Cracked Up to Be
You think hair loss sufferers have it tough? Try having great hair!
I am not going to lie. I am not going to sit here and tell you that I don’t care what my hair looks like each day, that I don’t connect the dots between having a good hair day and having a good day, that there is nothing worse than getting my hair cut and then coming home and realizing I hate it!
These were words echoed from a client to me the other day. In reality, I understood more about her from that statement than anything else she had revealed in the three months that I had been seeing her. As a Relationship Coach who prides himself on authenticity, I felt compelled to ask myself: How deeply have I -- a man with a full head of hair -- bought into our culture’s deep history with the power of the mane?
Oh, am I supposed to answer that? OK. Confession: I may be known on occasion to reach for a baseball cap when the hair mousse misses its mark. There, I said it. It’s out in the open. Hmm ... (pregnant pause).
OK, so there’s more. One time I got into an argument with a guy in the car behind me after we both missed the light … because I was fussing with my hair in the rear-view mirror. Not a biggie, right? It wasn’t as if I was text messaging and driving or anything. Anyway, I am almost positive that bald people stare at themselves in the mirror and survey the shape of their head from different angles. Why am I getting defensive? And why is this article suddenly becoming about me?
Yes, hair plays a big part in how we see ourselves and, naturally, how others see us. Can’t erase that. Can’t wave a magic brush and make that go away. But let’s face it, I am as much a victim as the next guy with great hair and even the woman who is losing some of her hair. We are all hit with images in print and film with the message that great hair is the key to a successful life or, at the very least, a more popular one. Confession: At the risk of alienating people who wish they had their own hair, I must say that I would love to shave my head down so I could just get out of the shower and have nothing more to do with it. It’s not that I’m not grateful, but having hair has its pressures and responsibilities, too!
And since I am opening up a can of worms here, what’s with the shampoo commercials? Haven’t they participated in the shaming of those less hair-fortunate and preyed on the insecurities of those who are more hair-endowed ? I remember a commercial not too long ago with a woman sashaying across a hotel lobby as everyone turns in awe of her shimmering hair. Not only is she moving in slow-motion so none of us miss it at home, but also she has her own sound track. And, if I am not mistaken, wasn’t there a shampoo spot that had a woman screaming in ecstasy in the shower as she lathers up her hair? What are the messages here? That people with great hair call all the shots? That they are filled with richness of life, love, sexuality and vitality that others with little or no hair can only imagine?
Maybe it’s time to go after the messenger. Maybe we need to unite, hair and no hair, male and female, and storm the conference rooms of advertising agencies across the country to have our demands heard. Wait, remind me what we want again?
I’m guessing step #1 is to figure out if they are reflecting back to us what we as a society really want? Or are they telling us through fear and intimidation what we need to like most about ourselves? “You don’t need self-worth and self-esteem when you have great hair!”
Maybe what we are noticing here is that hair can be a mask, a bit of smoke and mirrors to obscure what uncertainty and insecurities are lying beneath the surface of the scalp. My neighbor, who sports a false sense of confidence about herself, lit up like a Christmas tree this morning when my wife noticed and complimented her on her new hair color. You would have thought she’d just won an Academy Award for best dye job.
Last confession: I don’t know any bald women. I live in Los Angeles, hardly a sheltered life, and don’t know any. My frame of reference for bald women is a billboard for a hospital that depicts a girl with a brain tumor, and a point-of-purchase display promoting the breast cancer walk. I’m not so naive to think this experience is exclusive to me. And if I’m right, I can only imagine that healthy bald women are not rushing out to the mall without hair or hat to draw the stares and “sympathetic” looks from other shoppers.
All of this gets me thinking. Perhaps it is time to inspire advertisers and the products they represent to start painting a different picture. Perhaps it is also up to us as consumers to start demanding more from them and from ourselves. Maybe bald men and women need to converge on Washington with their own dream. And who knows, maybe the next president of the United States will not only be female -- she might even be bald.
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