THE BLOG

I Was Mortified When I Started To Go Bald At 16

18/09/2017 17:26 BST | Updated 18/09/2017 17:26 BST
herkisi via Getty Images

"It was when I was sitting my GCSEs that it dawned on me that my hair was starting to recede.

I was just 16 at the time and the sudden realisation really got me quite down.

I felt too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it for a long time. But it was only when I did, that I finally learnt how to deal with the prospect of losing my hair at a younger age.

Now - four years later - I'm determined to encourage other men my age to discuss their body image issues.

For me, it all started when I got my haircut and my friends at school pointed out that I was losing my hair.

They made a small joke out of it initially without any bad intentions, but I was absolutely mortified.

From that moment on I couldn't stop thinking about it. It was constantly on my mind, especially when I was on my own.

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I assumed it meant that I was going to go bald very quickly and got really down, but in hindsight it wasn't as bad I thought.

I'm 20 now, and most people probably still don't notice I'm receding.

At the end of the day guys with male-pattern baldness - the most common type of hair loss, affecting around half of all men by the age of 50 - have no control over losing their hair and that's why it was so upsetting.

Social media is constantly bombarding young people with unrealistic body image expectations, and that really affected how I saw myself.

It's full of people with flawless physiques and the idea that this should be the social standard has become ingrained into our generation.

It really eats away at your self-confidence because you're always questioning yourself and asking, "Am I good enough?"

It sounds shallow but if I was playing sport or on a night out in a warm club, I would feel self-conscious and worry what girls might think of my hair.

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When people don't talk about things - like I did - it's dangerous because they can really blow out of proportion in your head.

A major study in Germany a few years ago revealed that hair loss, and the subsequent stress it can cause, can lead to major psychological breakdown for some people.

I can really sympathise with that and can see how it can happen.

Hair loss is a sensitive subject and a lot of stigma surrounds it, especially amongst guys my age.

You have to be brave to bring up that sort of thing in conversation. We don't tend to talk about things like that very often.

It was only when I finally plucked up the courage to speak to a friend that I got some much-needed perspective.

He said to me, "You may be losing your hair but there's somebody out there without a leg and someone else who doesn't have any food".

It made me realise that there is always someone who is worse off than you and that I should be grateful for what I had.

Keen to try and tackle the stigma that hair loss is something to be embarrassed about, I signed up to work with Fixers - the charity that gives young people a voice - to inspire other guys who might be struggling with their body image as well. I designed the poster below - which I hope to display in bars, gyms and student unions - to get my message across."

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For more information or to make a donation, visit www.fixers.org.uk