People always laugh when I tell them I’m getting a haircut. I get it, I’m bald! My head is basically shaved. Why should I care about a haircut? Ha ha ha. Here’s what I say to them: Buzz off! Me and my bald brothers are people too, damn it! We don’t need your mockery!

Actually, I just think that and give them a cross stare, but you get my point.

There are really only two ways to go when you’re going bald. Hide it or embrace it. The former is a seductive option. Because as an adult you don’t start off bald. You’re just balding. You might not even realize it for years, and when you do it seems easy to hide. Grow your hair out a little longer and cover up the area in question. Problem solved, yes? Umm… no.

Once you get past the insecurity of losing your hair, it’s liberating to show it off for the entire world to see. You’re sending a message to everyone that you have nothing to hide. That life can’t get you down. What you see is what you get.

See, baldness is a relentless beast that rarely stops after clearing a small patch. At best you’ll only waste time trying to hide it with subtle cover-ups, and maybe money using medications to stall the process. Just ask my friend Shawn about his travails fighting the ever-receding hairline. It’s more likely that you’ll also lose your dignity. That little spot keeps getting bigger. So you try harder to hide it. Before you know, it you’ve got a Gene Keady-sized combover!

The jig is up! Now you’re at a crossroads. Do you sheepishly admit defeat to the world? Or do you go all in and get the dreaded toupee?

From 2006 until 2014 I took a commuter train to work. I saw the same 500 people five days a week, every week for eight years. Most of these people were completely forgettable, but one guy is burned in my memory for eternity. Why? Because he had the worst hairpiece I’ve ever seen, bar none. The moment I saw him I knew something was off. Why does his hair go from an immaculately rich dark brown to unseemly salt and pepper gray so quickly? Holy shit, he must have bought that bird’s nest 20 years ago before his natural hair went dirty gray. Meanwhile his bald spot kept growing and growing. His toupee was so outdated that it no longer completely covered the problem area.

I’m doing my best to describe this poor sap, but words can barely do him justice. You really needed to see it to believe. I guarantee if you were to ask one of my other 499 train commute friends, “Remember that guy with the toupee?” They would immediately respond, “Oh my god! Who was he trying to fool?” Trust me when I say everyone knew his secret. Instead of conveniently hiding his baldness he was pointing a flashing neon sign on top of his head that screamed SHAME! I’m sure that guy would die of embarrassment if he realized everyone else knew. That’s why I still get my haircut.

People may scoff at my compulsive need for a haircut every three weeks, but no one can deny that I embrace my baldness. I have no shame about it. Frequent clean and tight haircuts are really the only winning long-term move if you’re going bald. Once you get past the insecurity of losing your hair, it’s liberating to show it off for the entire world to see. You’re sending a message to everyone that you have nothing to hide. That life can’t get you down. What you see is what you get.

And believe it or not, the right haircut can change your life. Just look at Michael Chiklis.

chiklis

Chiklis had a respectable yeoman’s career back in 1991 while he still grew his hair out. He had a funny bit part on Seinfeld where he hosted a party out on Long Island, got drunk and stuck Jerry with the bill for the escort he ordered—one of the top 10 dickhead moves ever made on television.

He followed that role up with a five-season run as The Commish—offbeat, roly-poly Tony Scali. I suppose the haircut fit both of these characters, but it also implicitly typecast Chiklis for future roles. That is until he changed his haircut and went full on cue ball.

Chiklis broke through in 2002 when he became skull-cracking badass Vic Mackey in The Shield. Mackey didn’t take shit from anyone, including his bald scalp. Can you imagine Vic Mackey with Tony Scali’s hair? Of course not! So it’s a perfect example of the haircut making the man.

I’m not just talking about baldness and haircuts either. Every person has insecurities they struggle with. It’s a fact of life. You can either try to hide the insecurity or take ownership of it. The fact of the matter is the insecurity ain’t going away. You’re a lot better off taking ownership of it now.

So laugh all you want when you find out I’m getting a haircut. I’m comfortable in my own skin, even the mostly exposed skin on my scalp. And if this look is good enough for Chiklis, Jason Statham, Patrick Stewart and Michael Jordan… it’s good enough for me too.

don ross baldness

Lead photo: @kebarryphoto via Twenty20