HAIR LOSS: PUSHING BACK AGAINST MANUFACTURED BEAUTY STANDARDS

Image by kalhh from Pixabay

While hair loss treatment is becoming less stigmatised, the question still stands – why do some men feel that they have to restore their thinning hair to regain their self-esteem? Why should men have to change what is an entirely natural process? This represents a much wider ranging issue on male representation in the media, and by extension society, than receding hairlines.

According to a recent report, published in the Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal, hair loss was faster in men in their 20s and 30s working at least 52 hours per week than those with less hours. Is our 24-7-365 culture exacerbating male pattern baldness leading more men to resort to treatment to rectify the perceived problem?

December 2016 and November 2019

Male hair loss is only part of a much wider issue with how the media portray men in only one idealised form which is not reflective of the populace. In my view, society expects men to be tall (to indicate leadership), fit (to infer strength), handsome (to attract attention), and have a full head of hair (to symbolise youth).

I haven’t selected these, admittedly all aesthetic qualities, at random. We are bombarded by these subliminal messages by advertisements in print and online, on television and in magazines.

To fully understand how prevalent these male beauty standards are in our society today, I went out to the streets of Edinburgh to hear how people felt about the issue of hair loss and whether they would look into getting treatment.

 

Ask yourself. How many adverts have you seen where male models have thinning hair? Why are men with thick hair given prominence over those with thinning hair? Are they considered more attractive, to audiences, therefore to advertisers also, than those who are small, heavier and balding?

Is the preference for youth given prominence over ageing (which hair loss symbolises) meant to imply that those with un-model standard qualities are less important? Why is the pursuit of aesthetic perfection awarded precedence over humour, intellect and kindness, and all of the other qualities that make up a real person?

It may be because those qualities are more difficult, arguably impossible, to convey in one perfectly presented advertising campaign, image or slogan. The entire message is reduced to a clip, soundbite or poster for immediate consumption, engagement or dismissal.

This is one of the many reasons I refuse to participate in the so-called online dating trap where decisions are based on appearance. Anyone can present themselves as better than they are, but why should they think they have to? Is who I am really not enough? Do I need a hair transplant as well?

While I have looked into treatments out of sheer curiosity to rectify the problem (despite my best efforts, that’s sometimes still how I view my own hair loss) the costs involved, whether surgical or not, have always put me off. I’ve therefore decided to invest in a colourful collection of hats instead to style it out. I could do for hats what Diane Keaton has done for suits. We need a male version of that style icon to aspire to rather than just more hair.

My colleague, Sophie Wardrop, sat down with Scott Harrison who shared his own experiences with hair loss and how he deals with the stigma against the condition.

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