To bald or not to bald?
It’s become a very complicated question.
We hear “bald is beautiful,” yet men spend one billion dollars annually to combat it.
Similarly, bald men are told that their shining dome causes them to be perceived as “dominant,” yet hair loss can also lead to depression and anxiety.
So what’s the truth? We dug up every argument we could find both “for” and “against” baldness in hopes of settling this hairy (oof) debate.
Your Physical Health
The good news is that being bald likely means you have higher testosterone, which also means you have a higher metabolism. The bad news is that a study in India and another in Japan both linked baldness to an increased risk for heart disease.
As for your prostate, one study from the Prostate Cancer Foundation found a link between male-pattern baldness and aggressive forms of cancer like prostate cancer, while another study from the American Chemical Society found that, since bald men get more vitamin D from the sun due to their exposed scalp, they’re at a reduced risk for prostate cancer.
Essentially, the scientific consensus on how balding affects your health is: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The Winner: The prostate issue kind of cancels itself out, so we figured that while having low testosterone is bad, heart issues are worse, so having hair wins this round.
How People Perceive You
Apparently, the only thing that prevented the pathetic, self-loathing George Costanza from having the supreme, super-villain self-confidence of Lex Luthor was that George retained the remaining fringe of hair on the sides of his head.
In 2012, the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study across three different groups and found that both men and women perceive men with a completely bald head as being more dominant and confident than those with a full head of hair. The caveat, though, was this only applied to men who are completely clean-headed: Those with male-pattern baldness were perceived as weaker than men with a full head of hair. Another study from the Barry University in Florida found that people perceive bald men as being more honest and intelligent than men with a full head of hair.
The perception of power and dominance is so culturally pervasive that last year, the government of Mozambique issued a warning to bald travelers visiting their country, explaining that bald men have been targeted in the country as it’s perceived that they must be rich.
The Winner: Given that these studies all measured the hairless against the fully-haired, we’re going to give this one to the bald guys (unless you’re travelling to Mozambique).
Your Time and Money
Shampoo, conditioner, waiting for your hair to dry, getting haircuts, and most of all, styling your hair every damn day can be very time consuming, so just not having to deal with any of that can obviously save you some time. You’re also likely to save about $60 each month on hair-care products.
The Winner: Assuming you’re balding gracefully and not spending your time and money on baldness remedies, let’s give this to the bald guys.
While bald men may be saving money on grooming, they may be more than making up for it with therapy, as baldness is a major source of anxiety and depression. An extensive study in Berlin measured the emotional impact of baldness, which often leads men to feel ugly, and in extreme cases, can cause a psychological breakdown.
Additionally, it doesn’t help bald men at all when the “bald role models” they’re given, like Dwayne Johnson, Michael Jordan, Bruce Willis and Jason Statham, are all muscle-bound millionaires, as it stands to reason that those guys would’ve succeeded with hair, too. Low self-esteem, coupled with the fact that bald-shaming is totally acceptable, means that bald men can take some major psychological blows.
The Winner: Guys with hair. No contest.
How Attractive You Are
As this is the area everyone’s most worried about, we dug in really deep on this one. Online, of course, it’s very easy to find any article or even scientific study to “prove” that bald is beautiful.
But is it? Like, really?
One survey conducted by Online Doctor found that baldness had little effect on the attractiveness of a man, especially when compared to other traits a potential partner might worry about, such as your education or career. An anecdotal piece from Men’s Health showcased four young bald men agreeing that their hair loss didn’t seem to impede their attractiveness. And an article from Psychology Today agreed. The premise of all of these, essentially, is that women don’t care about baldness.
But even if that were true, this only says that women are, at best, indifferent — not that they find baldness to be an actual asset. Presumably, if baldness was more attractive than hair, wouldn’t a brief Google search uncover countless articles quoting women who find men with a full head of hair to be stupid and unattractive?
*sound of crickets*
Could the unpalatable truth be that women, despite perceiving bald men as smarter and more dominant than hairy-headed dudes, still find them less attractive? Both the University of Pennsylvania and Barry University studies referenced earlier said as much, as did another from Johns Hopkins. So sadly, while baldness may not be as unattractive as you think, it definitely seems to matter.
The Winner: For heterosexual men, at least, we’re going to have to give this to the guys with hair.
Doing the math, it seems like the non-balds have the edge, with fewer health risks, higher self-esteem and a generally higher level of attractiveness. But don’t fret, bald men of the world: At least you look extremely dominant.