It’s not easy being bald and under 30. Just ask Scott Manley Hadley.
“My name is Scott Manley Hadley,” his essay begins, “and I am prematurely bald.”
Hadley says he first shaved his head when he was 26 year old after accepting that his receding hairline was both “unstoppable and accelerating.” It’s a harsh and often difficult reality that most every man, gay or straight, must confront at some point in their lives. In fact, a 2013 study found that male pattern baldness can actually trigger severe emotional burdens, including depression and body dysmorphic disorder, which is when a person suffers acute anxiety about their looks.
Some of this is due to a person’s own self-image. But it’s often aggravated by society, as has been the case for Hadley.
“In the year and a half since then,” he writes. “I’ve been the victim of constant discrimination.”
“Shaved heads are a popular and stereotypical look within two UK communities,” he explains. “Many people presume that a man with a shaved head is one of two things: gay or racist.”
He continues: “If I’m dressed in an even remotely flamboyantly way (i.e. a patterned shirt), strangers regularly presume I’m gay. If, however, I’m dressed in unexciting jeans and a plain T-shirt, people presume I’m some EDL-loving thug.”
In Hadley’s case, he’s neither of those things, though, he says, he doesn’t take offense when people think he’s gay. (In fact, in another blog post, he admits that he’s “tried” to whole gay thing but in the process he learned “the bit that actually matters just isn’t my kinda thing.”)
“I’m neither a football-hooligan-turned-bouncer nor a gay man,” he writes. Be, he says, “I find it interesting how these two groups, which are in many ways ideologically opposed, share such a striking symbol.”
He adds: “What else do gay men and skinhead thugs have in common? Both groups enjoy wearing leather. Both groups organize street parades where they loudly expound personal pride.”
Hadley then takes a deep dive into what this all means:
A bald head looks like the tip of an erect penis without the external urethral meatus, and one would be foolish to deny that there are few things more masculine than a b*ner. It makes sense for gay men to fetishize the shaven head, as the defining feature of a male homosexual is his eroticization of the penis. For a fascistic thug, though, the deification of the c*ck makes less sense, unless one subscribes to the sneering viewpoint that every homophobe is a repressed homosexual scared of his own desires.
Sure, he may be overthinking. Or maybe he’s onto something. After all, a recent study found that straight-identifying guys with negative attitudes toward gay men appeared to be waaaay more interested in gay imagery than the those who didn’t express homophobic sentiments.
Then, of course, there are all those antigay religious and political leaders who have been exposed as keeping secret Grindr profiles.
So what’s the takeaway from all this?
A few things:
First, Hadley writes, “men who shave their heads receive prejudice from both the socially liberal and the socially conservative, seeing us as a demon representative of something they abhor.”
So stop make snap judgments about bald guys!
And second, he says, male pattern baldness is a “disease” that typically affects “men who identify as outside of the mainstream (be that through sexuality or extreme political beliefs) [and] often want to draw extra attention to something that puts them at the heart of our patriarchal, white-led, society: their ethnicity and gender.”
Hmmm. We’re not so sure about that one.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments section below…