It's a fact of life. There's no getting away from it. It is frequently touted as the number one fear for men in their twenties. But if it's in you family, you have to accept the grim reality, that one day you may look in the mirror and a bald man will look back at you.
That may all be about to change however recent reports coming out of American academic circles claim that they have found the holy grail of modern science, they've cracked the greatest of all genetic riddles and found a cure for baldness and that it could be found on the pharmacy shelves within the next two years. Expect the Nobel Prize to follow.
There is no consensus on the evolutionary function of baldness, it is generally accepted that baldness serves an evolutionary function, denoting maturity and social standing of the male. Myths abound about it, from too much testosterone to too little, to the wearing of hats, to over brushing or UV damage. What we do know however, are the causes.
There are between 100,000 to 150,000 hair follicles on every man's head, which produce hair or between 2 to six years. We lose an average of 100 hairs per day and in order to retain a normal hair volume they must be replaced at the same rate. Here's where testosterone comes in. Testosterone and its stronger derivative dihydrotestosterone (DHT) plays a vital role in the development of the male foetus and regulates male maturity. But certain hair follicles are genetically programmed to be vulnerable to DHT, which can attack them and kill their hair producing ability.
Probably the baddest of all bald Italians Benito Mussolini is a bald icon
The recent breakthrough is that a certain enzyme, called prostaglandin D2 (PGD2), instructs follicles to stop producing hair and a potential product would look to reduce the levels of that enzyme on the male scalp thereby insuring you get to keep your hair on, so to speak. George Cotsarelis, head of dermatology at Pennsylvania University, claims that negotiations are ongoing with a number of drug manufacturers about creating a lotion, he seems optimistic about it being on the market in two years time.
It got me thinking though, how would Italian men react to such a product were it to become available? Italian men have one of the highest incidences of baldness in Europe, Greece has the highest. But the bald men of every nation can learn a great deal from the bald Italian man. You do not see the comb-over in Italy. It might have originated in Italy, invented by Julius Cesar who combed-forward and wore a laurel wreath to hide his baldness, but the modern Italian man would never succumb to the level of self-delusion required to convince oneself that a few floppy, transparent strands of hair combed feebly over the pate can convince anyone that you are not bald. In fact the only thing a comb-over can convince people of, is that you are mad and probably desperate.
Gianluca Vialli baldly conquered Britain while playing for Chelsea
Nor to you see the bald eagle look of a shiny pate in an island of hair. That is just too weak a look for the Italians. Italians get away with baldness because they embrace it. At the first sign of balding or extreme thinning hair, an Italian will take the matter into his own hands and shave it all. There's a confidence in taking the decision to not let baldness be the boss.
The other way an Italian beats baldness is by dressing sharp. The shorn Italian route is not to be trodden by the timid. In fact baldness has come to signify virility and maturity in Italy. It was Mussolini who perpetuated this myth, while the dictator was famously virile, it was nothing to do with his baldness. His smooth-headed association with power seems to have been burned into Italian consciousness and therefore bald Italian men exude an air of power, strength and supreme confidence.
Italian referee Pierluigi Colina – a globe-headed icon
The other way Italians combat the bald gene is by simply dressing well. Sharp suits bedazzle and distract form the baldness while enhancing the powerful image. Coupled with a super-confident demeanour and you've got the recipe for being bald but looking good.
If the anti-baldness serum does arrive on the market soon for sure most men will jump at the chance to beat the baldness. But if the bald man is consigned to the evolutionary dump and every man in the world has a healthy head of hair, aren't their some people who will miss the sight of the sunlight, shinning brightly, reflected by the head of a bald Italian man?