I wanted to share my story. I am a white man, 33 years old. I've been struggling with AA since 2007. After quite literally a decade of carefully growing out my hair and holding it in place over my patches with what felt like half of a can of hairspray, I took 2 weeks vacation from work at the end of 2018 and shaved my head. My hairloss finally got over 50% and I was having to wake up at 5:30am before my 8am workday just to have time to dry my hair, apply makeup underneath, then get every stand put into place. And it still didn't look great, although passable to people who didn't look too closely.
I was super scared. I work in a highly public facing job. What would people whom I've worked with for 10 years say the next time I walked into our weekly meeting?
- Lots of weird comments didn't happen. I was bracing for a ton of bad comments. I posted a selfie on social media a few days before I returned to work to prepare as many people as I could and I think that helped. But I realized how little people actually care, haha. A few people asked why I shaved my head (not negatively), but two months later, only two people asked if I was healthy. I interpreted that as pretty cool actually, it's nice to have people care about you. Other men with male pattern baldness have made comments about taking the leap themselves. They are showcasing their own insecurities. I want to say "I actually don't have male pattern baldness!" But I figure why force the subject!?
- People who you are meeting for the first time don't realize anything is different. Think about that. How often do you see someone and mentally think about their hair. Almost never do I look at a bald guy and really "notice" that he's bald. It's just his look, it's who he is, I no more notice his eye color or suit color in terms of thinking anything is "off." If you have the confidence, no one will notice a thing.
- It didn't look as bad as I thought. I was terrified about the map of the world / shadow. I have very pale skin and very dark hair. Certainly, you can easily tell where I have hair roots and where I don't. But the way my AA pattern is, I don't have patches all over the place, but one big continuous patch - almost like the light and dark side of the moon. If you're facing me you may not even realize anything is off, because the roots toward the front of my head are all still there. I'm weirdly thankful that my AA got worse, because now it almost looks better shaved with less roots showing.
- Shaving has improved my life. Only a couple of times have I caught people staring. And yes, it was deeply uncomfortable. I think they noticed "hey this guy has a hair line on the side of his head..." It's human nature. Often I looked for people who might be staring and realize they're not - they're on their phones, or just don't notice things. For over a decade a gust of wind would cause me to physically seize up and dart for cover. Rain was a nightmare. If I hadn't "done" my hair that day, I couldn't go out anywhere that didn't allow for a hat with my wife because I didn't want to go through the two hour-long routine of getting ready, so I fell into hours of playing video games to escape reality. Now we go on walks all the time or meet friends for dinner. And when I did do my hair, I could never rest my head. It sounds so trivial, but literally hairspray was keeping everything in precise place. Never using a headrest in my car. Never putting on sunglasses because it could mess up my sideburns. Coming home from dinner with my in-laws to watch a movie and sitting up the entire time.
I am posting this because I shaved my head, in part, because of the UNANIMOUS urging of others with AA to do so. I swear over 98% of those who shave say "I WISH I DID IT SOONER" and I am one of them. I changed my lifestyle over my hair. I basically wasted my 20s. Don't make the same mistake I did, ESPECIALLY if you're a guy and DOUBLE ESPECIALLY if you have darker skin complexion. These groups have even less to be worried about in terms of the social implication.
No one notices what you perceive as imperfections more than YOU LOOKING IN A MIRROR. Hate to say it, but the random public doesn't care much about you or what you look like, so you shouldn't care about them.