Jun 22, 2011

Love is in the Hair

Greetings everyone. I paired up two questions with one answer this week...

Dear ask a punk: I'm a guy and I'm only 28 and this year my hair started falling out in big clumps. For all the obvious reasons this has me totally bummed out. I've always been in bands and let's face it, no matter how pure you are about your punk rock and roll, everyone has given some thought to their hair, and most have given a lot of thought to it. I like having hair that hangs in my face when I want it to. I can still pull it off, but I know that time is running out. I'm not sure what my question is, I mean I can google for baldness cures or start taking the medicine but I don't have health insurance and probably can't afford any of that anyway. Maybe my question is, how lame am I for being so worried about this and will it affect my future as a band guy? - Thinning

Dear AAP-
The Summer is coming and I'm going to be working a hot and sweaty day job all summer and at night I'll be going out to humid, sweaty clubs to see bands and hang out with my friends. What I want to do is cut most of my hair off, more for heat reasons than fashion ones, I've always kept my hair long but I'm sure I could still pull off a cute short cut. I'm in my mid-twenties and pretty good looking. OF COURSE it seems like everyone in my life is acting like I've gone crazy. My boyfriend is all flipped and HE has had mohawks? Most of our friends male and female have all kinds of weird stuff going on with their hair, I just want to cut mine off and it is a big deal? What is with guys especially and long hair on girls? - pixie cutter

Dear Thinning & Pixie-
Hair... ahh hair. Smart people in all sorts of scientific and academic disciplines have spent whole careers trying to figure out just what it IS about hair & hair styles that makes them such a big deal to us humans. The scope of the societal (and sexual) ramifications of hair choices for both men and women are really pretty astounding when you stop to think about it... considering the fact that the hair really serves no physical or survival purpose. It is more comparable to the decorative 'plumage' on birds than it is to, say, their pin or flight feathers. So what is the big deal?

Damned if I know... but I am pretty certain about a few things, and one of them is, if you build your self-confidence and/or self-image on a foundation of hair, you're going to be in trouble sooner or later, no matter which sex you are.

Thinning - Your problem is as old as time itself, when a man's hair starts falling out it is taken (in almost every human society) as a loss of youth and virility... Having your hair go grey isn't much better, but I'm sure every bald guy would gladly swap his fate for a head full of thick grey hair. Maybe you can still pull-off the "hair in the face thing" but if you're already seeing clumps of hair in the drain then that means you're probably developing a bald spot in the back of your head where you can't see it - but everyone else can. Even if you had the cash or health insurance to cover the cost of prescription hair pills, have you read the possible SIDE EFFECTS on those things? (which include 'erectile dysfunction' by the way.) ...a clear case of the cure being worse than the ailment. You could wear a skull cap everywhere, like the Edge, or you could just start cutting your hair shorter like the vast majority of men of a certain age. A comb-over is out of the question - unless you have a supernatural amount of inherent irony. Your best bet is to just get over it. Have you ever noticed that you sometimes DON'T notice that a guy is bald? ...at least not at first? That usually has something to do with how that particular guy views himself. As cliche' as it sounds, it IS a confidence thing.

I know I definitely have a semi-advanced case of "male pattern baldness" as well as a good bit of grey hair (although I started finding grey hair at the ripe old age of 19, which I guess has something to do with my predominantly Irish genetics.) So what do I do? or rather what DID I do? ... I went with it. several years ago I bought my own pair of barber trimmers and just keep my head buzzed fairly short. It is a low-hassle, low-maintenance, no-nonsense look, and I've saved myself a ton of money that would have been spent on haircuts (and shampoo.) Heck, even when I had hair, I never liked mine much. I had a bunch of cowlicks and so, long or short, my hair never looked all that great and it certainly was never my "most appealing feature" so screw it. Truth be told, I was 100 times more devastated when I discovered (a few years ago) that I needed reading glasses. Being the ONLY member of my ENTIRE family who never needed glasses was a huge point of vanity for me... but I had to get over that too.

PIXIE's situation is at least a little bit similar... It is more about self-image than it is about "what people will think." Sure I could rant on for a few hundred words about societie's overall feelings about how long a woman's hair "should" be, but those are generalities after all. I remember dating girls with crewcuts, mohawks, and weird multi-colored home cut-and-dyes as well as girls with long 'normal' hair. Some styles just look 'right' on some people while others don't... but the bottom line with hair, as it is with fashion is: "Is the person wearing the 'look'? ...or is the 'look' wearing her/him?"

I mean, what could be LESS punk rock than giving a fu#k what someone ELSE thinks about your hair? If you really wanted to cut it short for the convenience-based reasons you mentioned, why didn't you just go ahead and DO it? ...and then, if anyone gave you any lip about it you could tell 'em to go to hell? Taking a poll of your family and friends before pulling the trigger sounds (to me) like what you're mostly seeking is attention from all these people. Seriously, it sounds like you're using the "Should I cut my hair?" question more as an excuse to create some drama than anything else. Are you trying to come up with some excuse to break up with your boyfriend if he hassles you about your shorn locks? Are you hoping he'll break up with you because if it, so you don't have to break up with him? I mean it is JUST FREAKIN' HAIR and in your case (unlike in 'Thinning's case) you can always grow it back in a few months if you don't like it. Aren't there bigger things to worry about? Or at the very least more interesting things for you and your family/friends to talk about? What is your TRUE motivation behind all this?

Yeesh people. Come on.