Thinning, balding, and receding. Combing through the metal follicles of losing hair.
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The barbershop was a weekly destination for my mom and I. I never lined up the front of my hairline since it shoddy at best. There was always a comment about my large forehead, but the tight spiral curls were always a conversation amongst the girls at school. There was always someone who wanted to braid it, pull it all back into a ponytail or pigtails. I rarely replied adversely.
I grew out the entire crop and kept the sideburns lined up with a little taper on the back of the neck. Naturally, the cornrows showed up in my bohemian phase. After that came an ever-changing colored mohawk. My hair became an extension of my style and personality. It was how I set myself apart from my friends.
I was modeling in a runway show for a budding clothing line sporting a bright red mohawk with some newly etched designs on the sides. As I was sitting in hair and makeup, the hair stylist began to flat iron my hair straight up with a bit of hairspray.
“You’re looking a little thin in here.” He was so casual about it and continued styling (or salvaging) my hair.
I later saw a family photo where my hair was looking lifeless from monthly bleachings over the course of at least 2 years. Along with my receding hairline, it was time for something new. Something less. My next couple of barber trips felt like therapy sessions. I lost the damaged hair and cut it lower and lower. I remembered fading my hair down so low, only a shadow of a hairstyle remained. Never had I been so thankful for having such an aerodynamically shaped head.
Luckily, the heads up I got from the fashion show hairstylist happened quietly. I transitioned smoothly into the bald head without the comb-over or Phillip Banks. My father, grandfather, older brother and uncle were all pretty much bald since I was in high school so the concept of being bald wasn’t foreign to me. I felt right at home.
Original UNDO Mag Issue 6 Title: Going Bald
Written by Brook D’Leau
Photography by Nai Vasha