Monday, 8 February 2016

Shave and a haircut

I recently decided to start shaving my head again. The reason for this is that genetics are against me and I'm slowly but surely losing my hair anyway. My hairline has receded and, in the last year or two, I've thinned on my crown, too. I always said that, should I get to the point where I started to get a bald spot, I'd just man up and shave the lot off. I read somewhere once that bald is a choice, balding isn't, and took it to heart. If I'm going to have no hair, I'm going to do it on my terms. I'd allowed my hair to grow for about 6 months and it was getting pretty long, all things considered, but I was so paranoid all the time about how big my bald spot was getting, or how much my hair was thinning.

K tells me I don't have a bald spot, but I've seen enough
photos like this to know she's just being nice...

Losing ones hair is a big deal. Even in this day and age, where bald or closely shaved hairstyles are far more acceptable in society, it is a horrible thing for a man to go through. It is a sign that you're growing older, that you're not as 'perfect' as you thought you were and that you, too, have 'flaws'. Whether you learn to overcome these feelings and realise that going bald isn't really a flaw, nor anything to be ashamed of, is a deeply personal and difficult journey. As daft as it may sound, it took a lot of courage for me to finally shave my head the first time,  just before ET was born - it's quite the statement and was a drastic change from my normal look.

I've never had great hair. It was always poker straight and wouldn't really adhere to any particular style. I had a lot of it, but each hair was thin. I also grew up in the '90s and so sported the typical '90s curtains look. In the 00's I went for the popular faux-hawk, same as most twenty-somethings, but I was never happy with it. I must say, the feeling of relief upon shaving my head took me quite by surprise.

Me in my John Cusack days...

Realising I didn't have to worry about washing it every day (I couldn't bear leaving the house if I hadn't washed my hair, for fear of it looking greasy or lank), or that I didn't have to worry about bed hair (I get terrible bed hair, looking a bit like Inspector Gadget) was amazing.

That bed hair, though!
I'm not overly vain in that I don't worry about looking good all the time, but I do worry about looking bad. There is a difference! Not having hair means that is one less thing to worry about and it's quite freeing, I must admit! I also think I look quite good with my head shaved, even if I do think I have a weird shaped head...

It's pointy and my forehead is too round!

Recently I've also taken to growing a beard. There is a distinction between 'I've not shaved because I'm lazy' and 'I'm actually cultivating some facial fuzz here'. For many years I ascribed to the former philosophy but, again in the last year or two, I've decided I'm actually going to be a bearded man. This is also a difficult journey for a man to go through. A beard goes through many stages as it grows, not all of them particularly pleasant. It can look scruffy, it can itch, it can be hard to maintain and the balance between groomed and grizzly is in constant flux - and this is if you can grow a decent one in the first place. Yes, unfortunately some men are facial-hair challenged, growing patchy beards or sometimes not being able to grow one at all. I can grow a decent beard, despite the bit on my chin never really filling in. It goes very ginger around the goatee area, something else I've come to accept with time, but overall I can get a good, if not great, beard on the go.

I'm actually stuck to K's hair like velcro here

I've generally always had facial hair, ever since I could first grow it, because I despise shaving (plus the aforementioned laziness). But, since graduating from 'stubbly' to 'actual beard', I quickly realised that things go full circle; what was once a refuge for the lazy suddenly takes more effort to maintain. Keeping it all trimmed and neat, lining it properly, grooming - yes, grooming - it, having to buy special oils and becomes such a faff!

I've not yet mastered the art of trimming my beard and often take too much off or, on occasion, getting fed up and taking it off completely only to immediately regret the decision and lament that it will take weeks and months to get it back to where it was not five minutes before. I also think I look weird with no facial hair. When I shaved it off recently my colleagues at work were shocked about how much younger I looked and it's true, having a beard does tend to age you. I was quick to try and grow it back, however, and as I type this my beard is in a rather unfortunate inbetween stage; definitely past stubble, but not quite full beard, annoyingly itchy and in desperate need of a trim to hone it in a bit.

Sporting the Zangief look! I can't be the only one that shaves their hair
and beard into funny shapes for a laugh, right? ZANGIEF WINS!

So, shaved head and re-growing beard is my current look. Having a bald head whilst sporting a beard is a tricky look to pull off. Where do you end the beard by your ears? What looks most natural? Do you just look like someone from that old game 'Guess Who?'? It's a tough life!

It was Richard in the study with the...
wait, wrong game

At the end of the day, you just have to do what's best for you. If you feel confident enough to shave your head, I say go for it. You might be surprised at just how free you feel. If you're not quite ready for that drastic step, you might want to just get your hair cut progressively shorter over time so that the change isn't quite so sudden. Maybe you don't care about receding hairlines or bald spots and are happy just letting your body and hair do it's thing. Good for you! Whatever your choice, no matter your style, as long as you're happy then that's all that matters.

Oh, the best thing about having no hair? I can wear hats in winter without worrying about getting hat hair! Result!



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