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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Hating my bald head
Robert bald; having hair plugs implanted; and with a full head of fake hair
Robert bald, being fitted with fake hair, and with a full false barnet

By Robert Murray
BBC Three's Mischief

Slaphead, chrome dome, baldie - people can be nasty when you lose your hair. So what's the solution?

At the age of 16, I was confronted with the stark realisation that God found my face too pretty for my fringe. I had started losing my hair.

I went to my GP to ask if he could please, please halt the hair dropping like stone from my adolescent head. He suggested a crew cut. With adolescent hormones raging, the news that I'd be bald before some of my peers' voices broke hit hard.

A decade on, I'm still coming to terms with my bald pate. I am not alone - almost one third of men are noticeably balding by the age of 30, and most seek to hide the receding tide of their hairline by shaving off what remains.

Jude Law with a receding hairline
Jude Law is also receding
No wonder - even Jude Law has been criticised for losing his looks as he loses his locks. Then there are Yul Brynner, Willie Thorne, Bobby Charlton, Right Said Fred. It would be wrong to think of these chaps as anything other than successful actors, sportsmen or musicians. Sadly for them - and other balding men - their hair-loss forms as big a part of their persona as their abilities.

Have perceptions of androgenetic alopecia (science speak for genetic pattern baldness) actually improved?

To find out, I arranged to interview the very journalist who wrote an article criticising Law's receding hairline. I wore a wig, so as to draw out any negative stereotypes without her worrying about offending me personally.

"Someone like Jude Law who's rapidly losing his hair could also rapidly lose his career," she said. At which I quite literally tore my hair out by ripping off my wig. Unable to understand my hurt, she said that she'd been joking and that bald men simply needed to keep their sense of humour.

Keep your hair on

With so many "miracle cures" now on offer, I decided to give several a whirl. The lotions and potions promised to stimulate my hair follicles, promote nourishment and help regrowth. All they did was redden my scalp, discolour the skin and leave a sticky residue.

Paul Daniels in 1986 (left) with his rug, and in 1988 without it
Toupee or not toupee?
While having my head regularly rubbed for half an hour by an Ayurvedic practitioner was certainly pleasant, my hair failed to reappear.

How about a wig? There's always been bad press for men who try to hide their hair loss in this way. Paul Daniels getting rid of his toupee was said to have kept the Chernobyl disaster off the front pages in 1986. Would wearing one change how people treated me?

The first difference was how the wig made me feel about myself. Being fitted with false hair, I was surprised at how irate I felt toward the man in the mirror with his Hoxton fin. It felt like a slur on my integrity, but also made me wonder if I hadn't lost my hair, would I be a different man?

Perhaps a sexier man, more attractive to the opposite sex. To find out, I took my wig to a speed dating event in Manchester, where I spoke to eight women with my hair on and eight women without it.

Speed dating
This might help...
"What do you look for in a man?" I asked, patting my head every few minutes to ensure the toupee hadn't slipped to an awkward angle. Personality, said the first of my dates, and a sense of humour.

No mention of hair, or the lack thereof, until off came the wig. "I love bald men," I was told twice. "Vin Diesel is well fit," said another.

The event ended with hugs and saucy compliments about my naked scalp, helping me realise that bald could equal sexy. And the wig made me feel like a traitor to myself - it was time to embrace my baldness. My GP was right - I just needed to get over losing my hair.

While surveys show that British bald men are more ashamed of their hair-loss than our European cousins, the opposite sex seems to see nothing to be ashamed of. But I feel that bald men will only walk tall when the insults fade and there are no more false promises from shonky treatments.

In the meantime, should my confidence waver, I just need to look to the shaved domes of Freddie Ljunberg and Billy Zane.

Mischief: I Hate My Bald Head is broadcast in the UK at 2100 BST on Thursday 14 June on BBC Three.



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