Hair loss in society - a weakness or part of the ageing process?

Hair loss can be devastating. While some men take it in their stride, the majority struggle with it and feel self-conscious, vulnerable and insecure as a result of the hair loss. Is this because of the way society treats hair loss, or the individual’s feelings towards it, or perhaps a combination of both?Male pattern baldness will affect 80% of all men at some point in their lives. It is a genetic condition, and nothing can be done to reverse it. If you happen to inherit the genes, you will notice gradual hair loss. With such a high proportion of men being affected by it, you would think that it would be much more acceptable in society, but with society’s unhealthy obsession with aesthetics, there is more pressure than ever for men to sport a full head of hair.Many companies take advantage of the vulnerability that men experiencing hair loss can feel. There is no cure for hair loss, yet they claim that with their (often very expensive) product the effects of male pattern baldness can be reversed.My father started losing his hair in his late teens. His father and both grandfathers were bald, so genetically he didn’t have much of a chance. He has always been a very confident and secure individual and readily accepted that losing his hair did not make him less of a person. However, over the last forty years, since he lost his hair, he has noted that people feel it is acceptable to make jokes and jibes about his baldness. In this time, not one woman has felt the need to make a derogatory remark, but countless men have quipped about my father’s hair loss. Fortunately, he shrugs it off, but imagine if he took it to heart! Imagine if he was struggling with his hair loss and these jokes simply added to his insecurity. For me, it feels like these men are using these jokes to deflect their own worries about hair loss. They are so scared about losing their own hair, that they make little jibes to people like my father. Ironically, the people who made the most jokes did end up losing their own hair, after all it is such a common part of aging. The jokes stopped when they went bald themselves, and my father was sensitive enough not to comment. He may be secure in his own appearance, but it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t appreciate how devastating some people find losing their hair.My cousin and my husband have both recently started losing their hair. My husband has just turned 30, and my cousin is in his late twenties. My cousin is very happy with his appearance, is newly married and in a loving and stable relationship. He is petrified that if he goes bald his wife won’t find him as attractive. My own husband is already insecure about his appearance, and has always had very thin hair. The idea of losing it makes him even more unhappy about the way he looks. They have both been scouring the internet for cures that will reverse the effects of male pattern baldness. They are both desperate to take control of this aspect of their lives. As a woman I can fully understand. We have the ability to change our hair, to change the colour and cut, but also to have extensions or weaves if we feel our hair is too thin, or we’d like it longer. Both my cousin and husband have support, love and reassurance, yet they are plagued with insecurity. I believe that this insecurity is a result of how society perceives male hair loss.Male pattern baldness is associated with aging, and unfortunately aging is linked to weakness and frailty. Aging is an inevitable process, but society has carved a stereotypical role for the male that is strong and robust. Although we know that genetics are at the root of male pattern baldness, it doesn’t stop the individual worrying about how they will be portrayed once they start to lose their hair.For women, fighting the aging process is much easier and much more acceptable. Whether it’s touching up our greys with hair dyes or fighting the crow’s feet with lotions, potions and regular facials. Women are allowed to combat the signs of aging, no matter what cost or how much time they need to indulge in each treatment. Society accepts it, in fact, society encourages it and a woman who doesn’t try to look her best at all times is often frowned upon by society.We need to step away from the stereotypes that society produces. We need to remind ourselves that male pattern baldness does not mean a man is weak or frail, it does not mean he is less of a man. It simply means that he has inherited a specific gene, and the likelihood of inheriting that gene is particularly high. We also need to appreciate that while some men (like my father) are comfortable with hair loss, that the majority of men find it very difficult and it deeply affects their confidence.We cannot change the view of society as a whole, but we can be gentle and supportive with those suffering from male pattern baldness. If you suffer from it yourself, then you must never see it as a weakness; avoid the fake cures that target people like yourself and instead chose an option that covers the scalp and gives you an appearance that makes you feel confident and secure.

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