Saturday, February 12, 2011
From the New York Times:
OF all the details surrounding Prince William's April marriage to his longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton, few seem to have garnered as much attention as his rapidly receding hairline.
“You Can Leave Your Hat On” and “No Hair to the Throne” are among the many headlines that have appeared in the British tabloids. Which poses a question: Is it possible that the 28-year-old prince felt an urge to lock up a commitment from Ms. Middleton because his heart-throb status might be beginning to disappear with the hair? If so, what must the rest of the not-so-princely men in the world feel when youthful looks begin to fade?
In the past, only women were perceived to have a marital sell-by date. But thanks to a convergence of social and economic trends, some men feel the same pressures.
“The clock ticks for both men and women,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.
Michael Kimmel, a sociologist, said one contributing factor is the increasing economic independence of women. Mr. Kimmel, a professor at the Statue University of New York, Stony Brook, cited a 1930s study by Willard Waller that evaluated how women and men assessed each other’s sexual marketability based on criteria including physical appearance, social skills and financial stability. A woman of that era valued a man’s earning capacity above good looks and other traits.
But now, Mr. Kimmel said, “women are able to provide for a family, so they are more able to focus as well on physical features.”
Also, men have become more concerned with body image, meaning that they are more likely to measure themselves against culturally perceived standards of attractiveness, according to Ashley Mears, a sociologist. She traces the trend to the 1980s with more advertisements and magazines geared toward men.
In other words, those Propecia and Rogaine ads can wear on the psyche.
Men may give themselves some leeway when it comes to putting on a few extra pounds and having wrinkles (two typical areas of concern among aging women hoping to attract a mate). But hair loss — both androgenic alopecia, often referred to as male-pattern baldness, and alopecia areata, which typically involves temporary and localized shedding — can be emotionally traumatic, especially for men in their 20s.
In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology estimates 80 million men and women in the United States suffer from hereditary thinning or baldness.
Dr. Alice Trisdorfer, a psychologist in Philadelphia, said she once had a patient so consumed by his thinning hair that he “would count the number of hairs lost on his pillow and how many he found in the shower drain.”
Read more of such speculation here.