Mirror Magazine
16th September 2001

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The bald, the bold and the bowled over

By Ruhanie Perera

We live in an era of hair growth creams and hair transplants that guarantee, if not the lustrous head of hair of days gone by, at least a saving grace. Yet, there are quite a number still in that golden age of eternal hair growth who opt for the 'bald' look. One can't help but wonder, when you catch a glimpse of the many bald young men we see these days, where this sudden spurt of inspiration that prompts a person into shaving his head is coming from.

Some carry off the look with panache; others don't - but do it anyway and yet manage to look quite respectable. The reasons they give for taking this extreme step are: for comfort, for kicks, as a dare, for art or sometimes even as a contingency plan (sort of beating age to baldness). Set out like that the reasons sure are, well, reasonable; still I felt there was some explaining to be done.

Says the man behind the cricket scene, Alex Kountouri, "With no hair at all, it's absolutely no trouble."

Alex, the guy we always see under a fan in the dressing room, who (we are told) is putting our cricketers through the most gruelling of physical training sessions says he hands over his clippers to one of the players and requests that his head is kept clear of the hair that grows at a rather rapid pace. "I need to have my head shaved once a week; otherwise it starts growing and that is not a pretty sight!" he explains. "Most of the time I pop into a salon. But when I do it at home, I enlist the help of my girlfriend or one of the players (who sort of look on it as payback time) because if I did it myself it would come out in patches and that wouldn't look too good. Also with the power cuts these days I have to be extra careful about the times I choose to have my head shaved at home."

Alex shaved his head for two reasons: "One, without my hair it's a lot cooler and two, it is also a lot more convenient." As a person who used to have really long hair when he was much younger, he sees this look as a refreshing change. "I first shaved all my hair off about four years ago, when I first came to Sri Lanka. It wasn't trendy then, though that didn't bother me much at all since I went ahead with it for purely practical reasons. I think today it's a little more accepted and more of a common sight than it was then."

Alex Kontouri: the right shaped headAlex Kontouri: the right shaped head

Any apprehensions? "No! Hair was never a strong point with me, so I didn't worry about it too much." So with absolutely no qualms whatsoever he just plunged into the 'Bald Look'. Luckily for him the reactions he got immediately afterwards were all in favour of his shaved head. "I put it down to the fact that maybe I had the right shaped head for it."

For Alex, this look has worked, though as in most cases, this too has a down side to it. You could get sun burnt easily and you need to make many more trips to the salon. What's more he's had to deal with some everyday disasters. One such horror story he recounts is of the day that the clippers he was using just stopped working halfway through shaving his head. "I had to run around in a cap in order to find another pair of clippers."

Yet, these are minor hitches and they've gone almost unnoticed by Alex who says, "It's the way to go!" And on the really bright side, he adds, "This is a hair-do that really can't get messed up. And whenever you go to a salon, you're guaranteed to have a great hair cut every time."

Alex Kontouri: the right shaped headKevin Franke: most convenient hairstyle

Actor, director and writer, Jehan Aloysius is also another noted clean-shaven head, who says confidently that those of his kind are definitely growing in number. "Recently I was at a wedding where there were so many of us clean shaven heads that those who had hair felt completely out of place amidst us."

Getting rid of his hair completely was something that Jehan had always wanted to do since he was 18 in fact, but some of the roles he played on stage required long hair. Finally, in 1998, free of any artistic obligation he went ahead and shaved his head and has stuck with the look ever since. Says Jehan, "I think it was something radical I wanted to do - there were people around me who didn't like the idea, especially my mother (she didn't quite appreciate the idea of having a 'skinhead' for a son). But looking back now, I think it was one of the best moves I made, especially when you take into consideration how hot it is these days."

Shaving one's head, at the time that Jehan opted for it, was not common. Later on, however, it caught on and he identified the trend at university, when at mass lectures, he could count one solitary shaved head, which became two shaved heads, then four, then six. The numbers just kept growing, he said.

Jehan Aloysius: one of my best movesJehan Aloysius: one of my best moves

For Jehan, the shiny, bald head was a big decision. Today it's one that he's really comfortable with. "It's a real change from my natural hair days, when my hair (which was on the rather curly side) resembled springs. Now I have no problems. It's just get up and walk out of the house - no combing! However, I do have to get my head shaved at least once in two weeks. When I'm lazy or having exams, I let it grow, but when it comes to the stage when I need to comb it, then I make a beeline for the salon where my stylist who's been with the long-haired, and the tinted-haired me an the wild-haired me, completely shaves my head."

Jehan admits however, that the first time he got his head shaved, he felt his stomach go all woozy on initial glimpses of his new look. His first thought on seeing himself was, 'What have I done?' "That day I had to go for a memorial service and once I got there no one made a single comment." He was just wondering if it was so painfully embarrassing that no one could talk about it, when an aunt came up to him and endorsed the new look. With that, gone were all signs of wooziness.

"In fact, I had no bad reactions at all, except when I went for classes and people kept hailing me as 'sadhu'.

Crooner Kevin Franké of the band Deja vu describes his clean shaven head as, "the most convenient hairstyle ever." When Kevin discovered that he was losing hair just above his forehead, he decided to fight fire with fire: "I just decided to shave all my hair off and I've kept it that way ever since."

By the time Kevin decided to shave his head, it was quite a trendy thing to do. "I didn't worry too much when I did it because shaved heads were a common sight at the time and I knew people wouldn't think it was weird. Kevin liked his new look instantly, mostly because it was so comfortable. And before long people started getting used to it, "in fact now my friends tell me not to grow my hair again."

How does he maintain his look? "I go the salon about once a week and - I still shampoo my head," says Kevin who adds, "You need to maintain a healthy scalp because naturally it's more obvious when you shave your head. You can't exactly go around with a dry, scaly scalp!"

Although he likes the clean-shaven look, Kevin feels, "In general it's not exactly the best way to make an impression; especially with aunts, uncles or even in-laws. I get the feeling they take it as a sign of freakiness."

On the topic of shaved heads, Vasantha de Silva of Kess says that lots of Europeans shave their heads in summer for the heat, but he wouldn't call it a 'trend' as such. Vasantha, a lover of hair, thinks it's a pity when guys shave their heads. "I think if a guy is really keen on getting his head shaved, he should seriously consider the shape of his head. Very few people have the perfect shape for this purpose. I think the head should be large and round; I don't think those with a 'tent' shaped head can carry this look."

He adds that this may be a convenient option for those who have thick, curly hair or for those who are balding anyway; but stresses that even they should consider the shape of their head. Where maintaining this look is concerned, his advice is that one should periodically get a shave and maybe use some Vitamin E cream, on the scalp. Definitely not in favour of shaved heads, Vasantha says, "If anyone came to me for advice, I wouldn't tell him to go in for this look."

The fairer sex on baldies

We've all watched the advertisement where a woman's slender fingers show instant disapproval for a face that's not as smooth as a bare head. And then, seconds later, comes the obvious approval for the clean-shaven face that now matches the owner's clean, shiny pate. After watching this advertisement one can't help but wonder if this is the natural reaction that all women have to shaved heads, or is the general opinion quite the contrary?

Kishani: I think it's a very appealing look. Most of the guys I know who've shaved their heads look better than they used to when they had hair. Lots more guys are going for this look; only some can't carry it off as well as others, but on the whole it's a look that suits most guys.

Marissa: Judging from my personal experience, although the guys I know who've shaved their heads haven't told me this, I feel that they are doing it to get attention. However, there are quite a few of them who do look attractive. There are some people who do it in the name of art, for a play maybe, under the impression that it is a very noble deed, which maybe it is. But then there is the arty crowd who either grow their hair out or shave their heads to stand out as 'different'.

Lara: Guys who have a shiny pate look moonfaced to me and that's a real turn off. I don't know any particularly attractive guys who've gone in for the 'pate' look. I think it's a good option for these guys who land every blessed product in creation on their head and walk around with a really sticky head. For them, no hair is better than mucky hair.

Sharmini: Ugh! Clean-shaven heads make me feel really squeamish. I don't mind when guys have really short hair but when they opt for the bare bald look, it's really awful. Especially when their heads are completely hairless and they have a goatee or really hairy arms.

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