DARE TO ASK: Let's not split hairs over matter
By PHILLLIP J. MILANO, The Times-Union
Is it true that U.S. society values men with a full, thick head of hair more
than those of us who are going bald or are bald?
Andy, 36, Albany, N.Y.
Absolutely. Thick hair connotes health and youth. Also, most people's faces
just aren't attractive enough to pull off the no-hair deal. Hair can often
balance out or distract from features that are out of proportion, e.g., a big
nose, crooked teeth, receding chin, etc.
Chris, 32, female, Rockland, Mass.
It's important what you do with your remaining hair. Don't go for a
comb-over, grow it long in the back or do a "Donald Trump." It looks better if a
guy just cuts his remaining hair short or shaves it completely.
A. Jacobi, female, Alexandria, Va.
Since I was 14, I have had a thing for bald men. I don't know how the United
States in general views baldness, but my friends and I agree that bald = hot.
Christy, 22, Jacksonville
The media decided to portray a full head of hair on a man as the standard of
beauty. If it had happened the other way around, it would be guys with all their
hair who would be confused why women reject them.
Sallina H., 21, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Women's range in what they find attractive in males is much broader than what
men like in women, says Michael S. Kimmel, a State University of New York at
Stony Brook sociologist and author of Manhood in America (Free Press).
"Some women like lots of body hair, some don't, some like bald men, some like
beards, some like men short, some tall," said Kimmel. "Men, on the other hand,
like women with big [breasts]. That's what all the research says."
Regarding baldness specifically: While women -- especially those who are
younger -- generally find a full head of hair more attractive, there are plenty
of exceptions, Kimmel said, noting that many women find naked-headers like
Michael Jordan "unbelievably attractive."
Indeed, a Psychology Today survey of 1,500 readers found that only 40 percent
of women thought bald men were unattractive. And of women whose mates had all
their hair, just 13 percent would be "very upset" and 24 percent "somewhat
upset" if their hair thinned.
Much more critical to a woman than a little hair is a little class, Kimmel
"A bald man who presents himself elegantly and is well-dressed is better than
a man with hair who dresses like a slob and has rude manners," he said. "Most
women would prefer bald with a good job to a guy with hair who lives with his
mother. What's attractive is a man who holds his own."
But, uh, back to that thing about men's tunnel vision. Just why do they focus
"Because we can. Because of gender inequality in our society, we can set the
standards," Kimmel says. "What gender do you think invented the thong? Women
wear them because men find it attractive. Is it practical? I don't think so. We
set the terms."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers, or mail to
Phillip Milano, c/o The Florida Times-Union, P.O. Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL
32231. Include contact information.