Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 6/14/2019
Balding sucks. Losing your hair in itself isn’t so bad, it’s the sobering reality that a receding hairline is a brazen middle finger flying in the face of all that’s going right with your life.
Male pattern baldness typically hits the average man around 25 years old, and really hits its stride about five to seven years later. The painful reality around this is for many men, life as a man has really started to get good as far as manliness goes.
Peak physical strength typically happens when men are in their mid to late 20s while most, and save for Silicon Valley whiz kids, and masochistic entrepreneurs, most men are just beginning their ascent their peak earning years. So the receding hairline often comes as a grounding moment just as things were just getting good.
It’s an inconvenient reality that can bring the world crashing down around some men just as all those hours in the library were about to start paying off big- huge paychecks, lots of girls, tons of cars, and great friends to experience it all with.
For many the receding hairline represents one of two things: fading youth and attractiveness, but also the fragility of dreams and especially in American culture.
As a result, hair loss can be a touchy subject for many not because of a trivial hairline but what it represents for perceived masculinity.
We do know that, according to many studies (funded generously by the Rock’s production company) that men who are bald tend to be perceived as more confident. However, a lot of that has to do with how men who are bald present themselves.
In other the confidence they project is because they are bald, they’ve transcended all of the insecurities of balding and have become bigger, and because of it.
It’s worth noting an important distinction made in recent studies shows a clear difference between the way men with thinning hair, and those who’d just cue-balled their hair are viewed.
Albert Mannes of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania published a study in the peer-reviewed journal Social Psychological & Personality Science on perceptions of the men with a full head of hair, shaved heads, and naturally thinning hair.
"Men described with naturally thinning hair were viewed less favorably on a host of traits, whereas men described with a shaved head were viewed favorably," he says. "Shaving is a proactive, agentic act. That is what I believe leads to the differences."
Or at least that’s what one has to assume because men don’t really talk about balding especially the bald ones. The Rock included.
Hair loss is the first undeniable sign of aging. Most men are petrified that no one will want to have sex with them anymore as they age.
The notion is supported by a fun fact a recent study in the Medical Journal of Australia found that while there wasn’t a measured decline in sexual performance in 2,836 men experiencing varying degrees of baldness, they noted that bald men were significantly less likely to have more than four sexual partners.
Science says being bald is just as sexy, and the Rock and Bruce Willis have made being bald masculine, so it’s entirely possible that the decline in sexual partners is a combination of increased insecurity and the perception of attractiveness to partners looking for short-term trysts.
Many women find the existential crisis bestowed upon balding men to be the epitome of vindictive irony.
Women are constantly put under pressure to keep about aging and their outward appearance. After all the women’s beauty industry has made more billionaires than the tech industry.
For men, there isn’t really a support structure, or even an emotional structure to help them through the leveling of the playing field.
The issue is two-fold: one on hand there’s the comedic irony of no longer being a man due to thinning hair, and on the other is that men don’t really talk about hair problems the way women do.
If anything it’s the least masculine thing they can do. It doesn’t help that there really aren’t hair extensions for men and wigs that won’t make them look even more foolish.
At the end of the day the fear, and the silence hinges on an inability to find answers or solutions, to the issues surrounding balding.
But that notion is not only out-dated, it’s the antithesis of being a modern man -- educated, open to change, committed to resolving conflicts both internal and external. Machismo is dead, it’s ok to talk about losing your hair.
Insider tips, early access and more.