Baldness has become all the rage lately.
Less through choice and more through necessity. With barbers still closed, men across the world have had to man the razors themselves and hope for the best. It was hard not to feel a little bit happy that my personal haircare routine wasn’t affected at all. Going bald for the first time is like venturing into the unknown.
If you’re considering it, my advice would be to bite the bullet and go for it! Sure if you don’t like it, your hair will probably grow back.
As a bald or follicly challenged person, I thought I’d offer some insight into my journey in hair.
I was graced or cursed with ginger hair, depending on your interpretation. I don’t know where the childhood ingrained prejudices towards ginger hair originate but it certainly is an interesting phenomena. I didn’t encounter problems due to my hair colour but it may have been commented on in a well meaning but grating manner. “Oh you’ve got ginger hair.” Yes, I’ve also got a mirror and a functioning set of eyes.
After a lifetime of being ginger when things seemingly couldn’t get worse, they did. Come age 16 I was no longer ginger but ginger with a receding hairline. When you have a receding hairline you are instantly faced with a number of choices that could determine your fate. Do I opt to cut it short or grow long, get a fade or a combover?
My hairline was less David Beckham and more Wayne Rooney. Less David Platt and more Steve McDonald. This isn’t something that particularly bothered me, sure my hair could be better but so could lots of things. I could be 7ft 2 and playing in the NBA but we don’t always get what we want.
Over the course of the years I tried most things. Getting a fade, spiking it up, growing it long. My one attempt at growing my hair long left me resembling Herschel Kristofsky (Krusty the Clown for the uninitiated). It was longer at the sides than at the top, so bad that one of my uni roommates told me to get it cut.
The receding hairline perhaps played on my mind from time to time but was never a cause for great concern. An inconvenience rather than a glaring problem. However, little did I know that the widow’s peak was the least of my worries. Whilst focusing on one enemy another nemesis caught me unawares. A sunroof of a bald spot caught my eye one morning.
10th October 2018, today means action. I’d grown tired of walking round with a sunroof like I was a 1992 Peugeot 405, I needed to man up and get rid. Cranium (Belfast barbers) was the destination, baldness was the mission. I’d been to this barbers before for the usual run of the mill cut. A bit off the top and sides, bit of small talk, see you later. I was in the seat as usual but this time it was different. What do you say when you want a shaved head? I began to feel incredibly unprepared for this moment. “How much are you looking off?”, I’m asked, with a straight face and holding down nervousness, “It all”, I reply.
The razor doesn’t come out instantly, there’s some terms and conditions to get through first.
“Have you ever done this before?”, I’m asked. This now feels less like a haircut and more like I’m going skydiving. I was half expecting to be told “because once you jump out there’s no going back.” I inform the barber that this is my first time and provide my list of reasons why. Who knew that haircuts could be so bureaucratic.
After all the paperwork is filed we get down to business. The razor comes out and the process is finally underway. Nothing prepared me for that first cut. A sense of panic sets in when you see the hair gradually disappearing bit by bit. Just like skydiving, there’s no going back. I’d seen it in films when soldiers get their head shaved on the first day and that was how it felt. I was dishwashing later that night, not comparable to war, but not exactly pleasant either.
There wasn’t really much chat with the barber. We were both too focused on the task at hand. It’s a weird experience to describe. It feels like the person in the mirror has changed from you into someone else. It’s the ultimate reminder that time’s passing by and you’re getting older. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but a sign that it’s time to be an adult. Cut the cord, cut your hair and cut the apron strings.
A few tufts remain, the razor presses into my scalp like it had never previously done. There was some pain but I knew it was worth it. The barber recounts a story to me of one of her relatives who shaved his head and looks far better for it. That may have been true, or perhaps she was just humouring me so I didn’t get upset.
A quick once over with the razor and we’re done. After all the worry and talk, it’s over. The ginger hair of my youth lies strewn over the floor, never to return in the way it once did. My ginger identity sucked up into a vacuum. A defining characteristic consigned to the literal dustbin of history.
Stepping back onto the street I felt slightly unsure of myself. I didn’t feel like I was the same person who had entered the barbers half an hour ago. I walked down the street with a slight feeling of anxiety around me. Was that person laughing at me? There’s someone I know, what if they say something? I kept walking and I kept walking and I kept walking. Before I knew it I was in the Cathedral Quarter with no reason to be there. It was like I was taking this new haircut for a test drive. The world felt cooler, a weight had been lifted off my head physically and off my shoulders metaphorically.