In the days of Abraham Lincoln, few people actually met or saw the people they voted for. Stock photos in newspapers of the 1700s and 1800s were used, often supplied by the men themselves to reflect the image that they wanted to portray. But today, image is thought to make the man and the images can not be so easily controlled by those being portrayed. In politics, 90% or more of successful politicians have hair (though balding is present in 50% of all men). When focus groups are put together, it is clear that prejudice against balding men is commonplace. We have images of the balding, fat, beer guzzler with a pot belly. What does balding have to do with beer guzzling or obesity? Some people feel that balding men are not trustworthy or dynamic. Why? On my radio show, The Inner Man, we asked Los Angeles listeners to call in and tell us what they thought of the balding man. Between this radio program and other forums I have seen, heard, or participated in, I find these comments humorous, yet sad. Here are a few comments:
- Balding men are older, right?
- I would never date a bald man because I don’t date older men!
- Balding men look shifty; they have beady eyes.
- Bald men are smarter because they have to be just to survive.
- Bald men are not good in bed.
- I don’t find bald men sexy.
- I find bald men very sexy.
The most interesting comment I heard was from a bald man who called into my radio show responding to prejudice. He said when given the choice in hiring, he would rather hire a man with hair than one without. When we confronted him on this very issue, he said that even though he was bald, it was unfortunately true. We was open about his overt discrimination against balding job applicants, and he was the Senior Vice President of a company.
So in the days of Lincoln (1800’s), men wore top hats to cover their balding, and a bald politician could keep this secret. Today it might be a baseball cap, but there are few secrets to the camera as the paparazzi find their way even into the bedroom. But the real secret is the balding man’s secret. Their views of their balding situation cover a wide range of self esteem issues, inner secrets that are never discussed with anyone. Balding and aging do go together. With 50% of men having some degree of clinical balding by mid-life (45 years old) and balding progressing with age, a look at the man in the mirror constantly reminds him of his aging process, his mortality and his changing body. For some bding bald is a good alternative to the death option. For other more courageous men, they visit me and get their hair back.