People who believe male pattern baldness is caused by excessive testosterone (i.e. being too damn butch), often make the following claim: All the hair that baldies lose up top, they gain on the rest of their bodies. As with most common "factlets" about the Bald, this is as far from the truth as a bald man is from winning a beauty contest.
I am, aged 28, balder than my father was until he was more than twice that age. And though he's now in his mid-60s and boasts similar coverage to me, the hairy bastard has one thing I've never had - a Sean Connery-like rug across the front and back of his torso. I don't particularly want that, likewise I don't want a beard, but it would be nice to have the option of both1. My body isn't producing much hair, be it on my head, my torso or my pert behind.
There is one exception: my personal region.
When I hit puberty, I began regularly trimming my pubic hair. In part for that trendy noughties "neat" look, but predominantly for practical reasons. I grew up in semi-rural Middle England, and when tromping through merry fields a thick [pubic] bush causes serious chafing. Shorter pubes don't have this problem (unless they're so short they cause shaving rash), and regular trimming also makes a life-changing improvement to the cleanliness of your intergluteal cleft. Both front and back, a neat bush is fresher and more hygienic. Also no knotting or - occasional horror - getting hairs stuck under your foreskin.
If this isn't something you've experienced, let me explain the pain: Imagine the feel of a 19th-century device for preventing masturbation. Pubic hairs are thick and coarse, so two or three twisted into rope (rope attached to your skin) and sunk under foreskin into flesh gives intense pain, like wrapping cheesewire around a fingertip. It's not nice.
BUT, despite: chafing inbetween thigh and scrotum when walking or cycling; knots; food mess (after eating nude); nuggets of rank papier-mâché in my buttcrack; despite ALL THIS I've started letting my pubes get out of control.
I haven't trimmed for months.
I'm uncomfortable, I'm itchy, my wiping is unhygienic.
Something is stopping me from neatening myself up. The reason is my big baldie shaven head.
Since the Summer, I've found a way to feel (slightly) better about my hair loss, which is to make more of an effort with my appearance. That means dressing better, wearing contact lenses most days, keeping my eyebrows neat, shaving my face and - most importantly - my scalp every single day. This is time-consuming, so perhaps all this extra personal grooming means I lack the time to squeeze in a pubic haircut. I could make the time, though, couldn't I? I found time to write this2 and I find time to read Viz every month, so, y'know: time exists. But - as a hairless man - there's something perverse about removing hair from the only part of my body where it grows with abandon. My balls itch when I wear tight trousers, when I shower I wash out reams of paper from between my cheeks, and when I run my fingers through my pubes it's not the glorious, long-flowing mane I have on my head in my dreams, it's akin to fingering a stainless steel scourer.
Do I keep my pubes impractically long because I don't want less hair, or because I don't want to spend time trimming? As a bald man, I'm objectively less attractive than I was with hair, despite (now) taking more pride in my appearance. "Grooming" is a waste of time: I'm making more of an effort for less returns, I'm "polishing a lard" as they say. Shorter pubes will immediately improve my quality of life, but is doing so worthwhile, when I've got no hair on my head and no money for a transplant?
I don't want pubes so long they get caught under my foreskin. But the discomfort reminds me, over and over, throughout the day, that I still feel, I AM still alive, despite my baldness evidencing the proximity of death and the already-begun inevitability of bodily decay. Why bother trying to be comfortable, and why bother trying to look better, when we all know that - as a baldie - I'll never be attractive again?
What I'm asking is thus:
Does a bald man's life have any value?
Scott Manley Hadley blogs at TriumphoftheNow.com.
2. While I was "at work". Don't tell anyone.↩