Welcome to #DifferentLifeStories, where Without Boxes is sharing how people are living differently right now in the real world.
Hair loss is something that happens to our grandfathers. It is the sign of the wisdom that comes with old age; a rite of passage into that final stage of life where people finally look at us for how we lived rather than what we look like.
I was only twenty-four when I first noticed the old hairline was moving higher up my scalp. Twenty-four isn’t exactly the ripe old age of wisdom. I was still searching for the women of my dreams and trying to climb my way up the company ladder. A balding head wasn’t in line with how I imagined impressing women, and it didn’t contribute much to my professional image either.
A few months after my hairline started ditching me, the hair on top of my head began feeling strangely thin. I avoided the mirror and started searching through my old trunks of clothes to revive the backward baseball cap look.
My friends – not so affectionately – ridiculed this new “look” and relentlessly teased me about looking fifteen years old.
They speculated that the hats were covering a bad haircut, but when they finally got my hat off I was met with an awkward silence. That, coupled with the clumsy jokes that followed, made it clear to me something needed to be done about my hair loss.
After hours of infomercials, I ordered a couple hundred dollars of hair loss creams, hair plugs, and pretty much every other miracle cure out there.
The result was a head where hair grew sporadically in some parts and not at all in others. It looked like a chipmunk had nibbled parts of my head. This time, my buddies were less polite with their jokes and naturally renamed me “Chia Pet.”
I had pretty much resigned myself to my sorry fate until my buddies invited me over to watch Monday Night Raw. When Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson came out to fight, however, speculations began about how I might look like The Rock (minus the otherworldly muscle mass) if I were to shave my head. After a few too many beers, I found myself in the bathroom with a shaver and promptly did away with my Chia Pet hair.
The morning after is always hardest, and when I woke up even the hangover wasn’t enough to keep me from running to the bathroom to see what I had done. Despite the bags under my puffy reds, I looked…good. It had been months since I had been able to look in the mirror and admit that.
The shaved head look transformed me from an insecure, prematurely balding weakling into a good-looking, self-confident badass.
I took a shower, drank a few cups of black coffee, and drove over to the park for my morning run. After a few laps, I noticed that the group of girls that were always playing tennis weren’t ignoring me as had been their custom. Every time I ran by the tennis courts, at least a one or two of them watched me as I passed by.
At work the next day, I was afraid that the boss man would think I looked a bit too much like a Harley Davidson biker. After I received a host of compliments on my new look from the coworkers, however, I figured my worries were unwarranted. A couple of weeks later, my boss put me in charge of a team specializing in customer relations, so I guess the shaved head wasn’t too intimidating.
What started out as a drunken prank actually changed my life. Within a month or two I went from being a shy, insecure, prematurely balding 24-year-old man to a self-confident, poised and (may I say) good looking young man. I became more assertive at work, more confident in my relations with women, and overall happier with who I was.
It is amazing how such a simple change in image can do so much and have so much impact. But in our culture where premature balding is frowned upon, shaving my head was a way to take back control of my own destiny, my image, and my personality. It was a way for me to say to the world that I am still here and that I refuse to be cornered into unfair stereotypes.
Shaving your head, however, isn’t just for prematurely balding men like myself. In today’s modern world, more and more women are beginning to experiment with the bald head look. From Sinead O´Connor in the 1990´s, to Demi Moore in the movie G.I. Jane, to more recent celebrities such as Charlize Theron and Natalie Portman, the shaved look has also a decidedly feminine tone to it as well.
A woman’s shaved head portrays the ultimate self-confidence. Our society tries to enforce strict and limiting norms regarding how a woman must look, and the long, flowing locks of hair that characterize beauty magazines are an important part of that “accepted” image.
Women who dare to go against that cookie-cutter image imposed from the outside, however, may find liberation and self-assurance. Despite the surprise that their look may initially cause, most people will find that despite popular stereotypes, the shaved head look goes well with most women’s facial features.
For some reason or another, our society has decided that both men and women need to have a full head of hair. By going against the grain and experimenting with the bold new look of a shaved head, many men and women are challenging that stereotype and discovering the poise and confidence that comes with believing in your own style.
If you have experienced the same shame that comes from premature balding, or if you simply want a new look that adds assertiveness, boldness, and self-confidence to your image, you should shave your head today . If you find that your self-confidence level has not increased, growing your hair back is option. Nevertheless, I know that you will enjoy the transformation and that your self-esteem will increase.
Aron James is the founder of StubblePatrol.com. Stubble Patrol is a site on male grooming. He loves to write about his personal experiences.