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Author Topic: Young and balding - Worried about what people think of my new look  (Read 500 times)

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Offline AltoidsAndTabloids

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Like too many people, I've worried about what others think about me my entire life. For me it's always been extreme. Hell, I would stop wearing brown shoes if I heard someone on the street say that they're ugly. It's all part of my deep obsession with being liked by other people. After years of therapy, I'm definitely getting better but I'm not quite there yet.

One issue that I'm yet to tackle is my hair.

I officially noticed that my hairline was receding when I was 18. At the time, I had a medium-length, shag style that pretty much covered it up. As a teenage boy just starting college, this was a dramatic blow to my self-esteem. For the first 2 years or so, the receding hairline remained unnoticed by anyone but me (of course I couldn't stop thinking about it). I tried to kid myself by saying that maybe I wouldn't lose any more, but deep down I knew it was only a matter of time before the secret was out. As my college years went by, I really had to pay attention to how I got my hair cut or styled to "hide" it. When I was 21, I started noticing that not only was my hairline receding, but just about all the hair on the mid-top of my head was thinning out (that classic male pattern baldness, where only the sides and back of the head have thick hair). Still, my medium-length hair was enough to keep it MOSTLY hidden, but if you looked close you couldn't definitely see it.

I had heard about how buzzing your head is one of the best options if you're losing your hair, and I WANTED to do that. Of course, I cared way too much about what others would think. What would my parents think? The rest of my family? My friends? I wanted to try it, just to see how it would look, but I was just simply too worried. It's one of those things where if I knew I wouldn't see anyone that I knew for a month, I would have done it in a heartbeat.

The haircuts I was getting got shorter and shorter, because the medium-look just wasn't working anymore. Finally, by the time I was 23, I had had enough, and I buzzed my hair down to about a 2-3 with a trimmer. It was very strange at first, and I didn't know what to think. Keep in mind, I'm also a musician who performs at cafes and bars once in a while, so I was very afraid of losing that "sensitive guy" look.

The months went by. I grew more and more used to the look, and I liked the idea of having control of the buzzer. My friends didn't really say anything about it. I'm not sure if it was because they thought it looked ugly, or if that initial shock value was already gone because of ***** (I had put up a new profile pic shortly after I did it, just for that reason). Either way, I wasn't exactly getting compliments. Personally, I thought it looked better. Not "good", but better. Still, the look was growing on me (no pun intended).

It wasn't until my uncle saw me during a family vacation for the first time that things took a turn for the worse. He's a pretty old-fashioned person, and has more of the "more hair is better no matter what" view on balding. He immediately started asking me why I did it, and half-jokingly asked if I was a "skinhead" or part of the "KKK". He didn't let it go either. For the rest of the vacation he would keep asking why I did it, and gave me advice on how I can grow it out. Holy hell, he made me feel terrible. My self esteem had never been lower in my entire life. I was a 23 year old man and I wanted to crawl in a hole.

I became paranoid. Do people think I'm a skinhead? Do I look hideous? Is my head shaped weird? Would I look better if I just grew it out again? Maybe I can still cover it up.....

At that point I stopped buzzing it and tried to let it grow again. I still had enough hair to get by with a shorter look, but I never REALLY liked how it looked, and I knew that it would just get worse and worse. But all I could think of were those jokes my uncle made, or that bit by George Carlin about how bald white guys look terrible.

Anyway, I'm writing this because I'm 24 now, and I recently went back to the buzz look, but I'm still completely terrified about what people think (especially my uncle). How can I do this? I know the next time I see him he's going to give me more *****. I know that no-one in my family is going to give me compliments. I know that my friends probably don't think it looks good. I can't handle any of that.

I keep trying to tell myself that it's not a big deal. I am otherwise in good health and I am extremely fortunate for so much. That helps, but it's only temporary.

Any advice?
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"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like."
-Lao Tzu

Offline Doxie Lover

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Re: Young and balding - Worried about what people think of my new look
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2014, 11:42:09 PM »
Gosh,

Where do I start??  :question:

First of all, I'm sure you've heard of the old saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" so where one type of look is sexy to one person, someone else may think that same look is ugly.  You can't change your appearance to please everyone -- it's literally impossible.  You'd have to change your look daily if you were to try and please everyone.

Your friends may not be saying anything to you because it's not a big deal, although it is odd that they don't say anything at all.  When one of my friends changes their hair style, I usually say SOMETHING, even if it's "oh, I see you got a new hairstyle."  So if they are not saying anything to you because they think it is ugly, then I would suggest getting new friends.  They aren't your friends if they don't support you.  That's not to say that your friends can't give you constructive criticism, but if they are flat out insensitive, then that is another story. 

As for your uncle, I'm not sure what to say without hurting your feelings or insulting you, but your family and friends should be supportive.  Anyone who is not, I do away with because anxiety is hard enough.  The last thing you need is someone judging you and ridiculing you.  I don't know why your uncle thinks that bald guys are all skinheads or KKK members.  Also, some people are not the complement-giving type.  So maybe your family just doesn't give complements.

As a woman, I find bald guys attractive.  The actor Jason Statham is very sexy and I think he keeps his head shaved because he too has a receding hairline.  And he is smart enough to realize that if he doesn't have a full head of hair, he is better off shaving it rather than say, having a terrible combover.  Vin Diesel is also bald, and Brad Pitt has shaven his head before.  So that look is not reserved for racist skinheads. 

I'm just sharing my opinion, but I would discuss this issue with your therapist.  Surely he/she can help you through this issue.  As you mentioned, you might be getting better about your obsession of being liked by others, but there's definitely lingering issues.

I think you should do what you are happy with  :laugh3: and not what others want.  Regardless of what your hair is like, you are a beautiful person inside and out.  Believe in yourself!  :yes:

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Offline AltoidsAndTabloids

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Re: Young and balding - Worried about what people think of my new look
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2014, 02:33:20 AM »
Doxie Lover, thank you for your response. It really means a lot to me.

Yes, I'm aware that there are plenty of people, including women, out there who ARE attracted to the buzzed/bald look on guys. The problem is that I let the negatives outweigh the positives. For me, all it takes is one person to criticize it, and it throws me off.

As for my friends, yes most of the reactions I've gotten in person were along the lines of "oh your hair is really short now". I guess what I meant to say in the original post is that I haven't really gotten any compliments from friends. Just sort of neutral reactions if anything. I also forgot to mention that I've been living away from my home town for about a year, so I don't know as many people where I live now. I'm sure I would have gotten more reactions if I did this while I was still living at home where I know more people.

I should also elaborate a little more about my family. I know that my mother hasn't said much because she has that "if you're happy with it, I'm happy with it" attitude. My father hasn't said anything about it because he doesn't talk very much to begin with. He keeps to himself most of the time. I do recall a conversation I had with him a looong time ago, where he said "if I got to the point where I was trying to hide my balding, I'd just shave it all off". So I'm actually not worried about my parents. The rest of my family just sort of gave the same reactions as my friends. That Captain Obvious, "oh your hair is so short" reaction.

As for my uncle, I probably made him come across as much more of a jerk than he really is. If you knew him in person you'd know that he didn't say that stuff specifically to make fun of me or hurt me, he's just clueless when it comes to the modern view of balding. I don't want to defend him too much, however, because he really should have known that saying things like that would be very hurtful to me.

What truly bothers me isn't just what my uncle said, it's more the fact that people like my uncle are out there. There are people, perfectly normal, high-functioning people out there who have very negative opinions about guys that shave their head. Whether they think it's a "stupid trend" or that it looks ugly, or that the person is a white-supremacist, or whatever. THAT'S what I can't handle thinking about. The fact that I can be judged so harshly all while simply walking down the street is terrifying to me, and makes me incredibly angry.

Like you said, I recognize that no matter what I do, I will never be able to please everyone. I know I need to give my own opinion more weight, because right now my opinion means basically nothing to me. My therapy has been fantastic in terms of identifying my issues and their roots, but I haven't quite figured out how to actually deal with them.

Perhaps there's a surgical procedure that can enhance my "I don't give a s*** what you think" gland? Or maybe I can buy some thicker skin at Walmart...

Seriously though, I greatly appreciate any responses you guys might have. I'm not expecting to get a response that will change my life forever, but every little bit helps.
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"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like."
-Lao Tzu

Offline ctguy30

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Re: Young and balding - Worried about what people think of my new look
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2014, 02:07:38 AM »
I know this sounds kinda trivial, but you should not be afraid to own it. I have grey hairs at 30 coming in every other hair out of the blue (prob cuz of stress related to issues on this board haha) and I'm trying to figure out what to do myself. It gets soooo tiring of thinking, and worrying about it that I'm now at the point of saying F*** enough -I don't care. It's life wear and tear that people can see. If you want to ask or comment about it then maybe I should tell you my life story you know? I have two friends who at the same age are also balding early, and one shaved it off, and another has decided to go the hat route. The three of us all had a convo one night that enough is enough it is what it is, and if we continue to let it weight us down than who's the winner or losers except for us. We shouldn't let ourselves victimize are selves over stuff like this, because it's not living.  We have been given it, so you can only own it. Maybe you wear crazy hats and I dye my hair crazy colors haha, we should just have fun with it.
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Offline AltoidsAndTabloids

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Re: Young and balding - Worried about what people think of my new look
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2014, 08:52:06 PM »
Thanks ctguy30.

That's really the main reason I wanted to buzz my hair in the first place. Before I started doing it, I was CONSTANTLY worried about how my hair looked. I'd always look at any reflective surface I could find to check it. I had to keep messing with the tuft of hair in the front to try to blend it with the rest of my hair. It was honestly pretty pathetic.

Whenever I buzz it, I don't really have to worry about that. I may not LOVE how it looks, but it's somewhat comforting to know that there's no reason to fiddle with it. I can wear hats in cold weather without worrying about messing up my hair. I can completely dry off from a shower with a towel in a minute. I don't have to worry about the wind screwing up my hair style.

This is all well and good, but my issue is that if anyone even remotely hints that they liked it better when it was longer, I feel really bad. I start to freak out that I made a mistake, and I'd have to wait months to correct it. It's like no matter how much I may fancy something better, once someone criticizes it, my own opinion means nothing.

I'm glad to hear that you and your friends were able to get past all the pointless worrying and live your lives. I'm not there yet, but your story certainly helps.
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"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like."
-Lao Tzu

Offline Hypo84

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Re: Young and balding - Worried about what people think of my new look
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2014, 03:51:29 PM »
Just keep shaving your head and relax. If you feel comfortable with your looks others will too. You'll have some ppl, like your uncle, who will not like your look but it is usually out of their own insecurities.

I for example started going grey at age 17. Yup, 17. Took on my mother side. Anyway, I felt terrible, even dyed my hair when I was 22-23. Thought I'll never get a girlfriend when I go grey blablabla...

Long story short, now I am 29, with a lot of grey hair probably around 50% or more. Some friends tease about that, some ppl ask why I don't die, I don't care really. When someone asks me how come I am so grey I usually joke on the lines that it's because of position of Jupiter and Mars in relation to Saturn and when these planets aline my hair goes grey, but it will return to normal color eventually. :P. I have very beautiful girlfriend 7 years younger actually and she doesn't mind that I am grey. But, most importantly, I have accepted my looks and that is all that matters really.

So, when someone asks you why do you shave your head, joke about it. Tell them, it's because you want to get nice tan on your head...

Balding is a part of you, accept it and don't feel ashamed about it.

Take care
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