DARE TO ASK: Comb-overs: Why, balding guys, why?
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
Why do some men attempt to cover their balding heads with a comb-over? You
all would look much more attractive if you would get a decent haircut. My
gentleman friend reacted like I asked him to cut off his you-know-what when I
suggested he would look much better if he changed his style.
Jo, 53, Fort Wayne, Ind.
We all want to look our best, and at our age most of us have come to the
conclusion that "we can't please everybody, so we please ourselves." If you love
him, don't ask him to change. If you don't love him, why should he change for
Carol S., 58, Mountain Home, Ark.
My hair loss is not yet severe, but I do find it disturbing. I think it
engenders the opinion that anything on top of the head looks better than bare
Scott, 39, Bangor, Maine
Heh, the comb-over is apparently a hot look if you're Donald Trump. No one
likes to be told what to do, especially if it concerns personal style. It's like
why some women wear push-up bras that squish them into having cleavage with the
aid of lots of wire and padding.
Ann, 22, Toronto
He may own a clump of lower Manhattan, but we can trump the Donald as far as
influentials who've sported this hairstyle. How about the ruler of most of the
civilized world at one point?
That's right: Julius Caesar. He apparently had an exquisite comb-over, said
Chris Marino of Denver. On statues you'll see that he pulled his hair way too
far forward. He may even have worn that laurel to draw attention away from his
eminent eggheaded-ness, Marino said.
Why are we quoting Chris Marino of Denver, anyway? Well, he spent two years
making Combover: The Movie, a documentary to air on The Sundance Channel this
"We found that with most guys it starts out combing over a small patch of
baldness . . . at some point, though, they lose touch with what's going on. Many
are then in denial."
Marino said hair has always been an important symbol of virility and
strength. While the comb-over style is fading and is mostly the province of
older men, they will go to great lengths to advertise that they still have some
"We came across a gentleman in Texas who had one of the most incredible
comb-overs I've ever seen. He was completely bald except for by his ears and
back of his head. He grew that long enough so he could take it in three sections
and . . . he could lap it in such a way it would cover every bit of scalp. Then
he'd spray it down."
For those needing lessons, check out U.S. Patent 4,022,227 (complete with
hand-illustrated diagrams), awarded in 1977 to Donald J. Smith and his father,
Frank J. Smith, of Orlando. The elder Smith had big plans for wind-proof hair
products and got a patent on a variation of the comb-over as the foundation of a
future planned empire.
The tutorial may not be needed, though. A Psychology Today survey found only
a minority of women find bald men unattractive.
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. For Dare to Ask podcasts, go to
Jacksonville.com keyword: milano.