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Confronting Your Crown: Male Pattern Baldness

"Macho types are inspired by the likes of Jason Statham," pictured here, writes Daniel Jones.
Max Nash
AFP/Getty Images
"Macho types are inspired by the likes of Jason Statham," pictured here, writes Daniel Jones.

Men dealing with male pattern baldness have decisions to make — go with a comb over, take medication, get hair plugs or a toupee, or do nothing at all.

When New York Times contributing editor Daniel Jones started losing his hair, he chose what he considers a "cooler alternative" — head shaving.

"Losing your hair," he tells NPR's Neal Conan, "is a little bit like a girlfriend who's sort of drifting away, and you're clinging to her as she goes off and sees other people. ... It gets worse and worse. So it's better to take some sort of pre-emptive move."

In a recent piece for The New York Times, he argues that since actors like Vin Diesel and athletes like Michael Jordan popularized the look, the downsides are almost nonexistent.

Jones, who shaved his head more than eight years ago, explains the difficulties of confronting a receding hairline or thinning crown.

Interview Highlights

On shaving his head for the first time

"It's mostly a difference of feel ... when you're shaving in the shower and feeling the track that's left and suddenly there's nothing there. ... In comments after the piece ran, people described that moment — of sort of feeling it be smooth — as being more remarkable than anything that they actually saw."

On things to consider before shaving your head

"Head shape has a lot to do with whether this is a possibility for you or not, and if your ears stick out and that sort of thing. By the time I got to it, I had a pretty good idea what my head shape was. ... My hair was short enough at that point where I didn't worry too much about it. It's just taking it one last step."

On the shaved head as a sign of the macho man

"Bruce Willis was the idol back in the day. ... Maybe it's sort of the military practice of doing this, but it's also associated with ... the sort of sweating he-man ... in battle. ... The other component of this is people who shave their heads often then work out a lot more and feel like ... they have to, you know, buck up or at least get in shape. ... It's OK to be the in-shape bald guy. So I'd argue that shaving your head is also better for your long-term health."

On the one downside of head shaving

"I learned that the hard way. ... Wearing a bicycle helmet and having the air vents across the top and not thinking to put sunscreen on the top of your head ... you wind up with what I called a sort of geometrically pleasing — if sort of disturbing-looking — sunburn."

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