Our Obsession With David Beckham's Hair Reveals Mens' Sensitivity About Hair Loss

'Shave your head, son.'
David showcasing his new hair in Hong Kong
ANTHONY WALLACE via Getty Images
David showcasing his new hair in Hong Kong

David Beckham’s barnet has always been a benchmark for male grooming but his latest hairstyle has caused some controversy.

The 43-year-old appeared to have dyed his hair when he turned up on stage in Hong Kong on Monday as a brand ambassador for an insurance firm. Recent pictures of Beckham showed his hair looking a bit thin on top, so fans and the media were quick to comment.

David's thinning hair has been public for a while
PA Wire/PA Images
David's thinning hair has been public for a while

Piers Morgan weighed in on ‘Good Morning Britain’ saying: “What does he look like? Dear oh dear. Honestly. I’ll never get the attraction of Beckham. Quite extraordinary.”

Meanwhile, Twitter debated whether Beckham had used hair dye or had a transplant. “Christ, it looks like he’s done it himself from a spray-on hair can. Dropped about 10,000 places on the sexiest men list!” wrote @StressedEric72. Meanwhile @TheStellaRossa suggested simply: “Shave your head, son.”

In 2005, David was the peak of mens hair
Dylan Martinez / Reuters
In 2005, David was the peak of mens hair

The criticism and advice – much of it from men – highlights what a personal issue hair loss is for many people. When Beckham’s former England teammate Wayne Rooney appeared to have a hair transplant in 2011, he received a lot of tabloid flack.

But half of all men will have to deal with hair loss at some point and it is the most common worry among men when it comes to their appearance, according to research by Mintel, with 27 percent thinking about it regularly. The same study revealed that hair loss has led to men feeling depressed in 38 percent of cases.

Rick, a teacher from London, started losing his hair in his 30s. It didn’t worry him at first, but he struggled to find styles that worked with his thinner hair. “It’s very difficult to give up your identity which your hairstyle is part of,” he says, adding that he’s seen a lot of men finding it hard to accept the change.

Embracing baldness was the best thing he ever did, he says, and he’s happy with how he looks now, but acknowledges that it can be a difficult discussion to have with others.

Wayne Rooney was well known for having thin hair
Matthew Ashton via Getty Images
Wayne Rooney was well known for having thin hair

Scott Hadley had a tougher time accepting his hair was falling out. “It wasn’t something I was happy about, but by my mid-20s it was so bad I was wearing a combover like my 90-year-old granddad, and I knew the options were either denial or acceptance.

“I decided for the harder one of those, because as much as I could deny the hair loss to myself, I wasn’t hiding it from anyone else,” he says.

The decision on whether to get the clippers out comes with the same stigma as many discussions around appearance. Accepting it may change how you look and by extent, your attractiveness to others, is tough to open up about.

For Max Adamski, it’s been hard to accept: “My hair began falling out in the shower, and I was taking selfies of my head on most evenings. I tried egg yolk, tea-tree oil, special shampoos – the whole lot. I was a desperate man.”

“This was a gutting experience for me, as a chap who relied on my follicles for confidence, and I am now in the transitionary period of accepting the new appearance I have been forced into; I look like a kiwi,” he says.

Max only accepted he needed to go bald two weeks ago and he’s can’t help feeling like he’s less attractive to women: “I’ve gone down in their estimations.”

Rick says: “I guess not many people, particularly women, want to comment about someone else’s hairstyle as it’s so personal and they really know how touchy men can be about going balding. So you’re basically left on your own in these decisions.”

Of course, Beckham, as a world-renowned celebrity, faces the added pressure of his hair being talked about by all and sundry. Though in theory, his wealth could give him access to more treatment options should he need them.

Hair transplants costs up to £30,000, with the process of reaching a full head of hair taking almost a year. But there are many other products available that offer more instant fixes to the problem, such as hair thickening cream or fibres, which both promise a fuller head of hair.

Whether or not he’s used any of them, is known only to Beckham himself. When The Sun approached a representative for the star, they said it “was a matter of privacy whether it’s false or true”.