Social perspectives on hair lossFor millions, hair loss is a major problem associated with loss of self-esteem, lack of confidence, and even depression.
Since the dawn of history, hair has been a very important symbol, as it indicated a person’s gender and also his/her professional, social and religious status. Scientists who study the human behaviour have taken into consideration hundreds of studies confirming the fact that physical features, like an attractive physical appearance, weight, height, facial traits, and a tidy exterior, can systematically determine social attitudes, attributions and actions. As a result of socialization by colleagues, parents, and society in general, we develop attitudes implying physical and aestetical attributes and based on these, we classify people into a variety of cognitive categories, often unconsciously.
Our implicit stereotypes about physical appearance can determine who will remain a stranger or just an acquaintance and who will become a close friend, among the people we meet every day. Physical traits can influence social decisions and behaviours in any situation - at the workplace, in the classroom, or in the bedroom. Beyond the obvious impact on social relationships, physical attractiveness determines the reactions of both sexes.
Lazy persons, especially obese or physically disfigured people come across significant social prejudice and discrimination. What are the implications for the social perspective of the image of the self of a person with alopecia? How are people with visible alopecia regarded by the others?
The basic scientific conclusion is that people who possess the physical qualities that our culture considers attractive are sometimes, if not always, regarded and treated more favorably than less attractive people.
Scientists who study the human behaviour have studied numerous physical attributes, but still an area of investigation that has been nearly ignored was that of hair loss. This omission is a surprise, if we were to consider the predominance of this situation and the vastness of hair care and conditioning products and services. Surprisingly, the research also takes into consideration the fact that history proves the existence of a long-lasting cultural symbolism associated with hair - its length as well as its loss. The importance of hair goes back as far as the Neolithic Age and also hair loss due to disease, scarring and mostly to androgenic alopecia, has troubled members of the human race throughout history.
Hair is considered to be the ornament that “crowns” us. It is one of the few body parts over which we have immediate control to express our individuality or the identity we have chosen. With a few exceptions, top stars from the small screen, both male and female (like Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise), have a rich hair, even if they wear a hairpiece in orther to appear like that. Baldness or hair loss is associated with the lack of power – if we consider children, the elderly, and the biblical Samson. This story is one of the familiar examples of man"s concern over hair loss. Acoording to the legend, Samson had the strength to destroy the Philistines as long as his hair remained long and uncut. As soon as Delilah cut his hair, he lost all of his strength. The heads of prisoners and soldiers are shaved in order to diminish their individualism, their power.
In the contemporary western society, the shaven skinheads are racists. The average bald guy in the media is usually a comedy character or the subject of a prank (for example, George Costanza, in the popular TV show Seinfeld).
Table of Contents:
Can a hair transplant really help an alopecia pacient?
Social perspectives on hair loss
Bald or Balding Men