Where acceptance is all there is
On Going and Being Bald
I started losing my hair in my late teens, but I didn’t know it until I was 19 and attending college. I had just taken a shower and was combing my hair when I saw something shiny at the back and top of my head. I had no idea what it could be, as I felt around back there. My fingers felt ... skin? Is that my scalp? Snatching up a hand mirror while still staring into the vanity mirror, I found a spot . . . a bald spot – not a thin spot, but a serious bald patch – two and a half inches in diameter! My heart sank and I felt panicky, but not because of what most people think.
I’ve been picked on about my weight, so I now had something else that people will probably tease me about. How long will it be before it really becomes noticeable? How long before they start calling me “skin head” or “baldy.” Actually, I kind of like being called “Baldy” by women who mean it affectionately.
In case you missed it, I was worried about people teasing me about being bald, and not baldness it’s self. A part of me was intrigued about losing my hair. How much would I lose? How fast will it take for the hairs predestined to fall out and not grow back? Would I have a nice looking head? Should I shave my head and be done with the disloyal little bastards for abandoning ship, I mean, abandoning my scalp? I wasn’t interested in trying “snake oil” cures, or transplants, and certainly not wearing the dreaded toupee. I shudder just thinking about it. And then there was Dad’s “solution” – a comb over! No thanks, Dad!
Ten years later I wasn’t balding, I was bald. I wasn’t totally bald, of course, just mostly bald. I have androgenetic alopecia, which is also called MPB (male pattern baldness). I inherited it from my Mom’s father. I had the classic horse shoe shaped fringe – hair still on the sides of my head and the lower half of the back of my head. When a hair falls out, it grows back, only thinner in diameter and with a fading of pigment. Eventually it does stop growing back, like a well that has gone dry describes it the best. As my hair line receded, the more comfortable I became being a baldy. I liked the way my nude scalp felt . . . I wasn’t hassled very much . . . it didn’t effect my dating women . . . and so I began to ask myself, should I take a razor and finish what nature had started? The answer was a resounding YES! All I needed was the nerve to do it.
I’ve never felt good about my looks – especially after I developed my life long weight problem. I didn’t think I was out and out ugly – I didn’t frighten small children. I was just nothing to write home about. The only thing that stood out about me was my belly and my butt. The issue of my self-esteem became complicated after I became a follower of Christ. Because of the Holy Spirit, I can honestly say I didn’t see ugly people any more. Unfortunately, most of my brothers and sisters saw me through worldly eyes, so they couldn’t see me as beautiful or attractive. Uhm, it’s like having gold coins, but no one accepts them as legal currency. I was and still am disappointed by this harsh reality.
I began to read about what women thought about bald men, and what life was like for balding men who shaved their heads. From what I was reading and asking my female friends what they thought, the more encouraged I felt about shaving my head.
I don’t recall what the trigger was, but one Thursday night in April I shaved my head for the first time.
I took electric clippers and slowly ran them over the sides of my head, and then the back of my head. Clumps of hair fell all around me – on the counter, on my shoulders, and on the floor. At this stage I had a buzz cut; my head was covered with stubble now instead of proper hair. I didn’t look in the mirror, as I wanted to see myself after my er, well, transformation.
Next I took a shower and washed my head. I needed to remove the oil and dead skin cells that had accumulated on my scalp. My head felt kind of strange. The stubble felt prickly.
I then towel dried my head, and applied shaving gel. I worked it in all over my head until my whole scalp was lathered. Obviously, I had to look into the mirror and I looked pretty strange. I looked like a human sundae, without the chocolate syrup. I took a razor and went over my head with smooth strokes and before I knew it my entire head felt as smooth and soft as the patches where I’m naturally bald. I then rinsed my head to get rid of the little bits of lather left behind. I towel dried it again, and then I ran my hands all over my scalp feeling for places I may have missed. I got it all, but ran my hands over my head again to make sure. Actually, I did it so I could enjoy the feel of my totally hair free scalp as I ran my fingers over it.
I wasn’t completely happy with what I saw in the mirror. On the one hand I discovered that I have a nicely shaped head, free of any dents, knots or bumps. Clearly this was a great “look” for me, and can carry it off well. On the other hand, all the areas where there had been hair were white – I mean chalk white. The hair had prevented sun light from tanning my scalp so that it didn’t match my face or the bald patches. Oh, well, it would only be temporary as the sun would tan it so my face, scalp and my whole head really, would be the same shade.
You’d be surprised at all the products they make for bald and shaved heads. I’ve tried a number of them, but never really saw or felt any change from using them. I did once let my friend Holly give my scalp a “facial,” but other than having clean pores, all I got out of it was the feel of her hands applying the whatever it is that you peel off. I usually need to apply a moisturizing lotion, and I have to use sun screen in summer; sometimes I’ll massage my scalp with baby oil if I want my head to look shiny. While I prefer it matte, some of the women I dated wanted my head oiled and buffed so it shined like chrome. I guess the nick name “chrome dome” came about because of the women who liked us baldies to shine!
So that’s what going bald was like for me. A lot of guys are traumatized when they lose their hair. I was not one of them. I consider it a blessing.
Now that I’m “hair free,” people want to know what being bald is like.
I guess the first thing I noticed was how pleasurable it felt. Standing under a shower head was magical. One thing I learned as have many other baldies, male of female, is you can shave your head without shaving cream just by standing under the shower head. When I do it, I find that shaving my head this way is faster and I get a closer shave. Without hair to provide insulation, my head feels the cold more. Since heated air rises, you can see it “escape” up there on cold mornings, just like your breath. I’m usually the first to notice that it’s raining, too.
Touching. First of all, dudes aren’t allowed on the “ranch;” ladies are always welcome to explore the Ponderosa, even if they don’t ask first. We humans are tactile creatures and we respond to touch. We like to hug or be held when we’re upset, be patted on the shoulder or back when in need of encouragement; and if you’re a bald man, you feel reassured when a woman pets, rubs or kisses your head. This isn’t limited to just being a sexual thing. A lot of my sisters in Christ and other women I have platonic relationships with, just enjoy touching and playing with my scalp. It’s all perfectly innocent, and even the ladies who are married or have a boy friend just seem to have a well, a craving to see what my head feels like. Several women have said they are drawn to wanting to touch my head because it reminds them of babies. I have no idea what that means. Others want to rub or kiss it for good luck. I don’t believe in luck, but hey, it feels good no matter what the reason is. And yes, it’s true – the scalp is sensitive to touch. I don’t know if it’s because follicles have nerve endings in them, but the scalp, for me at least, is an erogenous zone.
People remember me.
“Oh, he’s the fat, bald guy.”
Not all women like it, and that’s ok – all I need or want is one . . . one special lady. If I never find Ms. Right it won’t be because I’m bald.
So now you know what it’s like to go bald and be bald; at least you have one man’s experience of them.
Larry S. Barbee