Comb-overs, faces covered in a mess of gray hair, embracing baldness and wearing hats: men, hair and generations

13 Mar

I like bald-headed men. Then again, I’m of the generation where men have embraced baldness rather than fighting it. Here’s my take on how how men approach their hair, through the lens of generations.

Silent Gen, b 1925-1942. Born too young to be GI Heroes and too late to be peace-love-n-rock-n-roll Boomers, Silent Gen men  hit midlife in an era of increasing desire for personal expression in what we now call the Consciousness Revolution. As a generation, they helped loosen the grips on responsibility and adulthood; they were the swingers of the ’70s. And they were the ones  who embraced the comb-over and toupe. They’been known for their bad, DIY home hair-coloring job, trying to be a generation younger and not succeeding. No need to say any more about this. Close your eyes and try not to remember.

Boomers, b 1943-1960. One of the core experiences of the Prophet generation (today’s Boomers) is that they first fight a new phase of life and deny the personal implications, then they embrace it, call it Good. They perceive of themselves as forever young (no one else does) until they finally embrace elderhood and become what are historically and cyclically known as “Gray Champions.” But during their mid-life and early elderhood years, you can spot Boomer men by their facial hair (beards and moustaches that cover their faces). Often accompanied by glasses and a cheap haircut. The antithesis of style. It’s as though they picked a look that worked for them at 27 and haven’t updated their style since then. May they grow their beards longer, wear white robes, grab a cane and do as their generation does in elderhood: provide the moral compass for society in an era of Crises. (Note to Boomer men: You all look alike! Well, those of you with moustaches, beards and glasses do.)

GenXers, b 1961-1981. GenX men remember all too well those Rogaine and Hair Club for Men commercials. Come GenXers into midlife and look at the cultural shift toward baldness. Bald guys are hot. Even men in their early 30s often shave their heads. It’s a look. It’s a statement. Being bald  — which for most men is really an act of embracing hair loss and “the inevitable” by shaving off their thinning hair — is taking a step forward, rather than fighting accumulated years. It’s an “I am what I am” thing. Embracing assets that are abundant — moustaches and beards —  expresses a GenX value to work with existing resources.

Millennials, b 1982 – 2004. At the top end, they are 32 in 2014 and hair loss is not big on their radar; the youngest in their generational span are but ten years old. My prediction: hats. That’s how they will deal with their hair loss. Formal, informal, but definitely stylish, quality, hats harking back to the 1930s. (Just go back 80-ish years to see the trends; it’s all a cycle!) Hats and more focus on things that shape a man’s face with refinement (vs the GenXers’ embracing of the beards reminiscent of the ’70s and a nostalgia for their childhood years). You can already see the change in the flamboyant moustaches, that GenX and Millennial men are sporting. Millennial men in midlife, I’d think, will wear monocles, have well-slicked hair, groom for pencil moustaches and, in general, embrace anything that is anti-grunge, leaning instead toward a conservative, preppy and ready-for-success look, which they are already doing.

This is, of course, one woman’s opinion, unedited. Not proofread.


2 Responses to “Comb-overs, faces covered in a mess of gray hair, embracing baldness and wearing hats: men, hair and generations”

  1. John Slater March 13, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    It doesn’t matter what generation you are talking about – The good lord made a bunch of beautiful heads, the rest he covered up with hair.

    Frankly I think the shaved look is fine for a very few head shapes but the phenomenon is more a result of an active marketing campaign by the razor industry than normal vanity. Just think how many razors are working over time to keep all those heads so shiny? Too much work for me. Just go natural.


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