Hair Loss: Emotions and Feelings
"Ugly is a field without grass, a plant without leaves, or a head without hair."
Ovid "The Silent Woman"
I think no one, given the choice, would want to lose their hair. The emotional aspects of living with hair loss can be challenging.
Discovery of hair loss is a stressful experience for both sexes, but substantially more distressing for women. Throughout the course of history attitudes towards baldness have been overwhelmingly negative. Living with alopecia can be difficult in a culture that views hair as a sign of youth and good health.
Nevertheless many doctors failing to accept hair loss as an important medical problem and ignore the real distress suffered by a significant proportion of those affected.
It isnít the purpose of this article to mock, depress or hit someone's sore spot. This list is intended to give a real facts and understanding of the scale of the problem. It may be interesting for both hairy and not much.
1The end of youth: concerns about getting older
Hair loss causes both men and women to look older. Consequently, for many the advent of hair loss, (more than with any other physical aspect), dramatically signals the end of youth, vitality and desirability.
The unconscious association regarding hair loss is:
Loss of hair = Loss of youth = Inevitable aging
2Inability to style the hair
Many hair loss sufferers are frustrated at the time and trouble necessary to camouflage thinning hair and the inability to style their hair as they would like.
3Dissatisfaction with appearance and body-image
The loss of the hairline can change a personís appearance substantially. Hair loss changes the appearance of the face by shifting the balance of the face to the forehead, resulting in an aged appearance.
A study7 revealed that men who had more profound hair loss were more dissatisfied with their appearance and were more concerned with their older look than those with minimal hair loss. This effect cut across all age groups but was more prominent in the younger individuals.
The research also indicates that women tend to be more upset than men by their hair loss. A 1992 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that compared the psychological impact of hair loss on men and women found that women had a more negative body image and were less able to adapt to the loss.
In fact, it has been scientifically proven through studies that women tend to suffer more emotionally and psychologically than men on losing hair. The results of these tests showed that women were much more worried about the way they looked than men. They tend to feel insecure about their appearance and how the world and the people around them will accept them.
Physical beauty is one of the cornerstones of self esteem and it is one of the most vulnerable. The self-esteem levels and other measures of self-worth drop significantly when hair loss occurs.
5Loss of personal attractiveness and fear of not looking attractive to others
Hair is an important determinant of physical attractiveness and a mean of expressing individuality. Hair loss affects the individualís feelings of attractiveness.
For balding women it is especially hard to live in a society that places great value on youthful appearance and attractiveness.
Because women are famous for spending a lot of time and money grooming, dying, curling, drying, and styling their hair to make it look its best, when they begin to lose their hair, it is extremely traumatic. This cosmetic setback is quite intense when a woman is used to having hair and suddenly finds herself losing it. They can have a lot of trouble dealing with the reality of hair loss.
6Embarrassment, Loss of confidence, Shyness
Although full head of hair cannot guarantee instant confidence, studies have shown that in men who suffer from hair loss, nearly 75% of them feel less confident since the onset of the hair loss, especially in dealing with the opposite sex.
And it isnít just men. Statistics regarding female hair loss are so difficult to compile mainly because of a tendency on the part of women with hair loss to camouflage and hide a condition that they feel stigmatized by.
7Social teasing and humiliation
When hair loss reaches a stage of visible condition it can make the person the object of teasing or scorn. Studies show, that 60 percent of all bald men are teased at some point in their lives.
8Feelings of depression and introversion
In extreme circumstances, some people really take hair loss badly and get highly distressed about it, up to the point of getting into depression.
Some people make assumptions that they are losing something about their control of their life, things they really can't reverse when they start losing their hair.
Most of the research shows that people with alopecia have higher levels of anxiety and depression.
9Subconscious emotions of envy and jealousy
Those suffering from hair loss often experience feeling of jealousy of men with full, healthy heads of hair, because they desperately covet what non-bald people have.
Hair loss may affect someone who is in front of the camera or who needs to be in the public in a very devastating way professionally.
11Negative effects on social life
Hair plays an important role in our social lives. Upon meeting someone, one of the first things you notice is their hair. Before a social engagement, it is very important for us to look good, and a good lock of hair is what completes our appearance. Those affected by hair loss become aware of how important hair is in our social lives quickly.
Hair loss may cause the person to limit social activities. Some people avoid seeing friends and stop going out except to work.
Surveys have shown that around 40% of women with alopecia have had marital problems, and around 63% claimed to have career related problems9.
12Wearing hats or caps even in warm weather
Many people begin wearing more hats or caps to try to disguise their thinning hairline.
13Start exercising to improve physique
For some hair loss may spark self-improvement tactics like starting to work our more. The improvement in physique gives more confidence, thus making less worry about hair loss.
Dressing better is a simple and sure way to improve appearance and self-confidence. Although stressful, balding isnít the end of the world!
15Grow a beard or a mustache
For some balding men behavioural coping mechanisms include growing a beard or moustache. By growing a beard, goatee, or moustache, it will take attention away from the head and people will focus on the new ďaccessoryĒ.
16Bald men are rated as more intelligent
In fact, bald men are perceived as being more intelligent and have an above average sense of self-worth.
Cash's 1988 study asked three groups of people - young college students, slightly older Old Dominion staffers and aging faculty members - to look at slides of bald and haired men. They was asked to rate the person in each slide for qualities such as self-assertiveness, social attractiveness, intelligence, life success, personal likability, physical attractiveness and perceived age.
Believe it or not, the bald or balding models were perceived more negatively on every dimension except intelligence.
- 1. Butler J, Pryor B, Grieder M. Impression formation as a function of male baldness. Percept Mot Skills. 1998 Feb;86(1):347-50. PubMed
- 2. Budd D, Himmelberger D, Rhodes T, Cash TE, Girman CJ. The effects of hair loss in European men: a survey in four countries. Eur J Dermatol. 2000;10:122-127
- 3. Wells PA, Willmoth T, Russell RJ. Does fortune favour the bald? psychological correlates of hair loss in males. Br J Psychol. 1995;86(pt 3):337-344.
- 4. Cash TF. The psychological effects of androgenetic alopecia in men. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1992;26:926-931.
- 5. Gosselin C. Hair loss, personality and attitudes. Pers Individ Dif. 1984;5:365-369.
- 6. van der Donk J, Passchier J, Dutree-Meulenberg RO, Stolz E, Verhage F. Psychologic characteristics of men with alopecia androgenetica and their modification. Int J Dermatol. 1991;30:22-28.
- 7. Girman CJ, Rhodes T, Lilly FR, etal. Effects of self-perceived hair loss in a community sample of men. Dermatology. 1998;197:223-229.
- 8. Cash TF. Losing hair, losing points? the effects of male pattern baldness on social impression formation. J Appl Soc Psychol. 1990;20(2, pt 1):154-167.
- 9. Hunt N, McHale S. Understanding alopecia. London: Sheldon, 2004.
- 10. Hunt, N., McHale, S. (2005a). Clinical review: The psychological impact of alopecia. British Medical Journal, 331, 951Ė953.
Last updated: February 18, 2016
- Did you know that Americans have elected 5 bald Presidents: John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, James Garfield, Dwight Eisenhower
- The comforting facts about androgenic alopecia:
- Is not a painful disease
- Does not make people feel sick, physically
- Is not contagious
- Does not reduce life expectancy