Are we biased against baldies at work?

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Steve Rushin’s piece in the current TIME, titled “The Bald Truth,” points out that Americans haven’t voted a bald president into office for 51 years. He writes:

If the 2008 presidential election comes down to a choice between Hillary Clinton and front runner Rudolph Giuliani, Americans will elect a woman before they will elect a bald man. The U.S. has had more than five bald Presidents, but Americans haven’t voted one into office in 51 years, when Dwight Eisenhower won a second term over Adlai Stevenson–the second consecutive election in which two bald men went head to glorious head.


Our last bald Prez

Rushin blames JFK:

When President John F. Kennedy went hatless during his Inauguration speech in 1961, he committed in essence a double homicide: of the hat industry and of the prospect that any bald man would ever have to the nation’s highest office.

He goes on to cite a long history of our public rejection of naked-headed men, or our relegation of them to sidekicks or bad-guy roles:

…bald men are icons of evil in the movies, from Lex Luthor to Dr. Evil to Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life. Sometime in our political history, baldness was downgraded from Churchillian to … Dr. Phil-ian.

Now that I think about it, my notoriously ageist industry is also kind of baldist. Very few male pates in the building seem to recede naturally; they’re either Vin Diesel or Tony Blair. My workplace isn’t alone in this. According to the BaldingBlog (I love it–there’s a blog for everything, ain’t there?), which is written by Dr. William Rassman, a hair transplant surgeon,

Some years ago when I was doing my radio show, The Inner Man, we had a caller who was vice president of sales for a rather large company. He said that although he was bald, he would never hire a bald man for a senior position. What does that say?

Is anyone else outraged by that? I’d call bald men a persecuted minority if they were–a minority, that is; apparently, 35 million men are losing their hair. Male-pattern baldness occurs in 25% of men by age 30, and two-thirds are bald or balding by the time they reach 60. And you know, it’s not just men who suffer from hair loss, or alopecia, as we who watch too many commercials say. I attended this beauty junket earlier this year where a company was hawking wigs for the ladies.

But bald Americans, take heart. There appears to be a movement to regain dignity and proclaim pride in your shining temple. I found a great web site called BaldRUs that rejects Hair Club for Men and other drastic measures for artificial hirsuteness. There are features on The Rock and Howie Mandel. Its logo features a bald eagle squawking mottos like, “Bald men don’t need Viagra,” and “I’m too sexy for my hair.”

And despite Rushin’s argument, I can think of plenty of baldies in prominent jobs. Patrick Stewart! Steve Godin! Steve Jobs isn’t so flush up top. Even Britney tried to do the stubbly look. As for presidential candidates, Rudy’s not the only one with little to comb (over); Fred Thompson’s pretty sparse, as is John McCain’s. Karl Rove isn’t exactly David Hasselhoff.

But I do think baldness is still a great taboo among men at work. Too many still cover it up with toupees that resemble roadkill and still others opt for the nuclear option with ouchy transplants. Come on, folks. Bald is hot. Who needs hair to rule the universe? Moreover, who says the hairier, the happier?