For those with a full head of hair – whether because they have won the genetic lottery and avoided hereditary genetic hair loss, or because they have actively sought out preventative or restorative solutions – it can be easy to joke about Male Pattern Baldness.
Up and down the country men with thinning hair often find their disappearing locks the subject of ‘friendly banter’, sometimes leading to low self esteem and desperate attempts to disguise a receding hairline before a night out.
But is what is said between friends permissible on a larger scale? At least one BBC viewer doesn’t believe so.
The broadcaster has received a complaint regarding ‘bald jokes’ directed at pundits Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy, by hirsute presenter Gary Lineker on its popular football highlights show, Match of the Day.
“It’s a strong start to the premier league season. Real hair-raising stuff at times – unless you’re Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy,” Lineker quipped at the expense of his bald co-stars.
From bad to worse…
As if to compound the matter, an unrepentant Linker took to Twitter to address these accusations in the tongue-in-cheek manner fans will be accustomed to, saying:
“The BBC has received a complaint about bald jokes on @BBCMOTD (genuinely). Very unfair I feel to call @alanshearer @IanWright0 & Danny Murphy jokes.”
Unsurprisingly, the tone of the message – which was liked by Alan Shearer – did not sit well with everyone… whilst some took it as harmless fun, berating the complainant as being ‘too sensitive’, others noted this hereditary condition can be a tough emotional burden for those affected.
One Twitter user replied “On the one hand, I guess all topics are valid comedy-themes, and on the other, there aren’t many parts of a person’s body that people would openly ridicule (especially if it’s something they haven’t chosen, or can’t change). It depends on the kind of world you want to live in…”
Others wrote, “If it’s not ok to call someone ginger then it shouldn’t be okay to call someone bald”... ” it was right at the start of the show, childish and not funny”… “Damn right too, you’re sexist, racist and all sorts nowadays so why not baldist?? I went bald at 21 and it was a terrible time, depression was a part of this. Yet people still take the p*ss out of bald people. Not clever, it’s 2019 people, were all different. We’re all equal.”
Not just a cosmetic issue for some men
Although some people do still consider hair loss conditions to be a purely cosmetic issue, this does not acknowledge the considerable psychological effects that losing their hair can have.
Whilst concerns about thinning hair may be dismissed as a sign of vanity, this is not only untrue, it is ignoring the deeper emotional impact hair loss is known to have on a man’s self-esteem and the significant stress it can cause.
Ironically – as the popular meme says – ‘worrying about hair loss can cause hair loss’ is pretty much spot on. Stress is known to trigger Male Pattern Baldness where there is a dormant underlying genetic predisposition, or exacerbate existing active cases.
Belgravia clients often tell us how they became self-conscious about their hair after being teased by friends about their hairline or thinning. Our hair specialists have heard of a number of cases were this type of ‘joking’ started in high school, at an impressionable age when kids already have enough to worry about. This feeling of depression and inadequacy can stay with them for far longer than just the moment of a fleeting joke.
The negative effect this can have on young men’s self-confidence should not be dismissed lightly and it’s easy to see how jokes about this, even if they are laughed off at the time, can hit harder than those affected may let on publicly.
It is true that there are clinically-proven hair loss treatments which can be useful in promoting hair regrowth and preventing baldness but how a person handles going bald is an incredibly personal decision and one that no-one should not be made to feel bad about – whatever they decide.
The following articles provide more examples of the impact hair loss can have on men’s mental health:
- Hair Loss May Cause Lower Quality of Life for Men
- Six Things Men Would Rather Lose Than Their Hair
- Understanding the Mental Struggle of Hair Loss
- Woman Admits Husband’s Hair Loss Affected Their Marriage
Anyone who is concerned about symptoms, such as a drop in hair density, excessive shedding or obvious signs of hair loss developing, who is interested in finding out about the range of hair loss solutions available should contact a specialist for a professional consultation as their first port of call.
This will give them a confirmed diagnosis and, if appropriate, personalised treatment recommendations based on their level and pattern of shedding, as well as their medical profile. For those whose hairloss is so extensive that they may be best-suited to a hair transplant, rather than non-surgical hair loss treatment which requires active hair follicles to be effective, a referral to a highly respected surgeon can be arranged.
Although many clients tell us that their confidence came back along with their hair regrowth, eliminating unkind ‘jokes’ would be a great step in helping people to feel more comfortable in themselves, regardless of their appearance. As an Alopecia UK spokesperson told The Telegraph, “Jokes about anyone’s physical attributes are extremely outdated and this includes ‘banter’ about hair loss.”
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.