The Bald And The Beautiful

We show love to the follicle-challenged and the rest who opted to cut it all off.
Eric Payne
Content & Storytelling at theCut, Editor in Chief of STAMPED.
The author, 2nd from the right in 1991 (top) and present day (bottom).

Yup, that's me in the above pic sandwiched between a couple of college friends. It was approximately 1991. I was at Cornell University living my best life. I had a head full of hair that at various points in time was pushing skyward, or at the very least pointing toward the ceiling. It was my strength, and so were the rayon pants and the green, linen, double-breasted jacket I was wearing. Fortunately, some things do change.

Fast forward to the present day, thirty years later, that's still me standing between the same group of friends. We tried to recreate the past, but the guy to my left didn't want to cooperate. The sun was in all our eyes, and we didn't keep taking pictures until we got it right. What you see is a subpar duplication of the past. I proudly posted it on my Instagram anyway.

I wasn't always bald, and I can proudly say it wasn't a hard truth that made itself painfully aware to me. I've been bald two times in my life. The first was only temporary. I was nineteen years old and pledging my fraternity. My big brothers took sick pleasure butchering apart my hair pictured above. The second was ten years later, while on a Caribbean cruise with a girlfriend at the time. The edge of the clippers I packed on the trip broke somewhere between our flight from NYC to casting off in Fort Lauderdale. No biggie, I thought to myself. I taught myself how to cut hair at the age of fourteen and had been cutting heads ever since. But having no tools on me, not even a Phillips head screwdriver, I couldn't adjust the blades. I inadvertently cut a golf course into my head when I attempted to touch up my fade and wound up stranded on a ship looking crazy. I didn't dare go to the barbershop on the cruise ship. Let's just say the barbers didn't appear equipped to perform the magic I needed. Forced to spend a week at sea with my girlfriend visiting various ports of call in the Caribbean, I had two options. Either be completely self-conscious because I looked crazy or be completely self-conscious because I looked different from what I was used to. I opted for the latter, took a deep breath, and shaved my head in our tiny cabin bathroom.

Being bald at thirty brought a different energy. It wasn't a sentence I had to accept but a statement I was making. Years had passed since Djimon Honsou danced around in the sand with Janet Jackson and put bald-headed brothers on the map. Alone, except for my girlfriend on a ship full of strangers, I got accustomed to the look. After seven days of my dome soaking up the sun, I came back even-toned, looking like a bronze Milk Dud. The first person to take notice was my girlfriend's mother. Her very natural but equally disturbing reaction to my appearance let me know I had done the right thing.

Being Bald Becomes A Lifestyle

Being bald has evolved from a past where it was so undesirable that a twenty-year-old would rather look like George Jefferson than be hairless. Now you have men walking around looking like pharaohs in their own right. These days, domes ranging the spectrum of the skin-toned color wheel are impossible not to spot on any given day.

Being bald has several benefits. Among them:

  • Your head can be used as a perfect drum pad by babies.
  • Rainy days never cause concern because you're "waterproof". Technically, everyone is waterproof, but you know what I mean.
  • Women love a clean, shaved head. Of course, this isn't true for everyone, as everyone has their own unique preferences. But generally this "love" ranges the spectrum from simple appreciation to solid desire. As someone who was married, is now divorced and is actively single, I speak from experience. And if you're blessed enough to be able to team it properly with a beard you run the risk of turning heads everywhere you go.
  • Whether you do it yourself or have entrusted the maintenance of your scalp to a barber, you require considerably less maintenance than our brethren with active follicles. Less maintenance means you're out of the chair sooner or typically ready to go everywhere before anyone else in your house.

I remember the days when I was held captive by every mirror I passed, brushing my waves endlessly, looking for that perfect pattern and shine. I'm glad those times are nothing more than a memory now. Being able to get ready quickly is what kept me shaving my head to this day. Something is freeing and incredibly empowering about getting into the shower fuzzy then minutes later coming out clean-clean (yup, I wrote that twice), looking and feeling like a king.

Being bald also works while taking a break to drink coffee.

Admittedly there are some days when I wonder what it might be like to have locks like Lenny Kravitz or at least have the option to try. My hair actually did thin after I started shaving it all off. But these days are few and far between. I can accessorize with hats, caps, and skullies (a.k.a. beanies) whenever and however I want. I am bold, bald, and according to some, beautiful.

We See You & We Celebrate You

Today on Be Bald and Free Day, what I like to think of as my own Bald Appreciation Day, we show love to the follicle-challenged and those who, for whatever reason, opted to cut it all off. Here at theCut, we're not going to shame you into making the leap if you're not ready. The decision to take it off is between you, your maker, and perhaps your loved ones. After reading this, if you decide it's time to set that dome free, download theCut today to find a barber who's got the sauce to get you looking right.

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