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July 2001 Newsletter

I wanna be like Mike 

Bald can be Cool, if you're Michael Jordan
Chicago, Ill - July 22, 2001

Those who point to Michael Jordan as evidence that being bald is cool overlook the fact that what is most cool about Michael Jordan is THAT he is Michael Jordan. The baldness is secondary. If Jordan went around with a mop duct-taped to his head, wearing a mop duct-taped to your head would be cool, and kids would imitate it (insisting, no doubt, on the $79.97 Nike Air Jordan Mop).

That said, baldness can indeed be cool, even on men who are not Michael. It depends on how you pull it off. One guy's sleek Telly Savalas style will, on somebody else, warp into Austin Powers' nemesis Dr. Evil.

So when is bald cool?

Being tall and handsome helps, as in the case of Yul Brynner, or short and tough and wiry, as in Louis Gossett Jr. 

Personality is important when it comes to baldness. Adlai Stevenson's gentle, intellectual demeanor turned baldness into an asset (he was the inspiration for the term ''egghead''), while Douglas MacArthur's vanity made people just itch to mock him for the self-delusionary strands of hair he combed over his bare pate.

MacArthur reminds us that baldness' cachet leaps when you compare it with almost any steps taken to combat it. The scorn felt toward 100 chrome domes taken together can't compare with the ridicule focused on a single bad toupee (almost a redundant phrase, since all toupees are bad, with the possible exception of the toupees of certain Hollywood stars).

Perhaps the best way to think of baldness is as magnification of the soul. An Olympic swimmer's shaved head declares his competitive spirit, while a skinhead's shaved head reflects the psychosis within.

In other words, getting back to Michael, if you're cool, your bald head will be cool, too. 

Neil Steinberg










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