Tag Archives: vanity

No Way Fam

It’s often tempting to peer back into the mists and wonder what our ancestors would make of us now.

I wonder what Agincourt’s Henry V would have made of the British Army’s bold new ‘Belonging’ campaign, where it’s made clear the forces are happy to take on even the spongiest cupcake because literally anyone can be a human shield in the age of equality. “What if I get emotional?” asks one potential recruit in the ad campaign. “The king received an axe blow to the head, which knocked off a piece of the crown that formed part of his helmet”, says Wikipedia. Score draw.

Back then it was turnip for dinner. Now it’s ‘elevated toast’, and you have to take a picture of it or it’s not really there. Back then, frostbite was a blessing as it took the edge off the gangrene. Now, the NHS is bankrupted by people taking colds to A&E. Back then, grooming involved the local hag hacking your locks off with the same rusty knife she used to bone poor Uncle Jacob when the typhoid finally won out over the dysentery.

Now, people inject animal fat into their lips.

Continue reading No Way Fam

Creams, foams, gels, lotions and ointments

We humans are rather vain. We preen, we do our hair, and we dress to impress. Our self-confidence is linked inextricably to the way that we perceive ourselves. That’s why the onset of baldness can be a blow to many of us and it can often result in some downright awful haircuts.

Men go bald in a number of ways but often it starts at the temples, the hair recedes and at the same time the crown becomes increasingly bare. The end result is a horseshoe shape and many men think simply directing their remaining hair to the middle of their head is a convincing way to cover up their baldness. The comb over is an absolute disgrace of a solution and something that should be avoided at all costs.

There really is no disguising what’s happening to you. The only option is to embrace it. You could opt for expensive hair transplants, or a good old fashioned wig, but at the end of the day you will still be bald. There are all manner of creams, foams, gels, lotions and ointments to rub on your dome too, but they have terrible side effects such as a decrease in your sex drive.

At the young age of 18 I started to notice my hairline was retreating. It was slow at first and I thought, “That’s not so bad, in fact it’s pretty manageable.” Unfortunately, just like the inexorable march of time, there was no stopping it. I scrubbed vigorously in the shower and I prayed daily that my hair wouldn’t go. In fact I tried to make several deals (with whatever deity would listen) to exchange the hair on my chest for the hair leaving my head.

It was not to be. My hair became an increasingly historic part of my life yet I still denied what was happening to me. I pretended I wasn’t balding and I assumed that no one even noticed. That was until I saw a photo of myself on a particularly blustery November day. I couldn’t tell where my hairline began but I could definitely see my scalp, and I realised that this was how everyone else saw me. My perspective on my appearance was completely out of touch with reality.

For me it was hard to accept my hair loss. I’m only 24 and my dad has more hair than I do. Going bald is traumatic, it fucking sucks, and most of us will do whatever we can to fight it. The trouble is it’s not a fight that you’re going to win. I should know. I fought the good fight for years until recently I decided to just shave it all off. It may seem extreme but I’ve never felt more comfortable, more confident, and I’ve certainly never been likened to Bruce Willis before.

It’s not attractive to be balding but it can be attractive to be bald. Confidence is always sexy and I’m fucking fed up of television personalities, movie actors, and general celebrities denying the effects of time. Going bald is natural and I want more role models. Shave your head, embrace it, and don’t try and hide behind terrible haircuts or even worse treatment options.

Being bald is liberating. Shaving your head is fucking exhilarating and there is no shame in it. To all of the people that think I now look like a thug and to all of the people who pointed out that I was losing my hair – fuck you. I’ve embraced it. I’ve owned the thing that made me most ashamed. And do you know what? I’m happier.

There will be a moment, a point in time, where someone will comment on your thinning hair. That moment will stick with you, that person’s voice will speak in judgement at the back of your mind, and you’ll suddenly realise that your carefully maintained and kept secret is out in the open. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay, that these things happen, and that it’s how you deal with them that defines you.

Accept who you are. Being bald won’t define you any more than balding will. It’s a simple choice between constantly fretting over your remaining hair and avoiding windy days or chopping it all off. It’s not easy, it’s not something that any of us wants to deal with, but it is something that you can’t avoid forever.

Shaving my head was the best decision that I ever made and I wish that I had made it sooner. If you are battling with hair loss, if your hair is on its way out the door, kick it the rest of the way. You don’t need that strife; you don’t need the self-doubt and pitying looks from your friends. Shave your head and be alpha as fuck.

My bald head is easy to maintain. It’s memorable. Best of all though it’s brave, and I wear my scars, my once shameful secret openly and for the world to see. Funnily enough I get fewer comments now about my lack of hair than I did about the hair I had left.

And anyway, fuck the lot of them. You don’t need their opinions or validation. Shave your head, bare your shame, and be proud of who you are – the good and the bad.

Slimmer fit, shorter jacket, narrower trousers

The world is a fucking serious place, there’s little point denying it. Murder, hatred, rage and suffering on an unimaginable scale suggest we should all walk around with serious faces all day long and take no pleasure in anything. That seems foolish, which is why when someone explains to me that they don’t think the time is right to complain about life’s irritating trivia on this site because of ‘what’s happening in Gaza’, I feel the urge to shake into them that it doesn’t seem to stop them watching facile comedy on TV and moaning in the pub about their boss like he’s one step down from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Life has to go on, like always.

Like always, however, there’s an exception. There’s a particular aspect of culture that merely needs to be mentioned in passing for me to scream at the top of my lungs that we need to re-evaluate everything we hold dear, to realign humanity so that passing aliens won’t simply wipe our planet with a huge tissue to get rid of us like a shit-stain.

Here’s Charles McKenna, ‘buying director at menswear chain Slaters’, to explain more.

“Generally, men are wearing colour again. Last year, various shades of grey became very popular. This year, the cloth mills introduced blue in various shades, royal blue being extremely popular. The key point is these suits have to be in a modern shape: slimmer fit, shorter jacket, narrower trousers and teamed with tan shoes.”

Anyone who has met me knows I’m unlikely to be the target audience for the next Dolce & Gabbana double-page spread featuring some slicked-back tit with an implausibly big nose and no fucking socks. My fashion sense is nil. I’ve spent nearly 20 years dressed in jeans, black trainers, a logo-free sweatshirt in a dull colour, and a black hoodie. My wardrobe is neither varied nor extensive. Beyond a vague attempt to prevent derision I do not give, and have not ever given, a fuck about how I look. And I fucking hate people who do.

Therefore, Charles McKenna, ‘buying director at menswear chain Slaters’, epitomises everything I hate about the unspeakable vanity of humanity: clothes, shoes, bags, hats, jewellery, watches, glasses, ‘accessories’ (what?) and everything else people drape over themselves in a woeful attempt to stand out. Their inability to use words and gestures to make themselves unique is matched only by the stunning arrogance that they believe their unparalleled creativity in choosing an outfit will easily be enough to wow the crowds of people vomiting in Yates’s on Reading high street at way past midnight.

This has spawned an extraordinary industry of ‘luxury’ fashion, of which Mr McKenna is just one of many princes. Even when you think you’ve come up with a particular concoction of clothing that might somehow make you feel better about your tattered life, you’ll be told that your clean black suit needs to have a ‘slimmer fit, shorter jacket, narrower trousers’, and if you dare not to ‘team’ it with a pair of tan Paul Smith’s, £229.49 (was £254.99) from Jules B, well God fucking help you because you’re one step from trampdom.

It’s not aimed at everyone, I know that. Most people just try to get by looking normal, and doll themselves up from time to time so they don’t look too daft when others do the same. Just don’t stand out, that’s our motto.

But that doesn’t stop me being sickened by what it represents: too much money than some people know what to do with. Rightly or wrongly I view people in that category as a great part of the reason the world’s so fucking wrecked at the moment. And not just that, it also does bad things to good people. I once knew a girl who spent £600 on a coat, only to complain the following month she barely had enough money to feed the dog.

Here is a passage from the news story that quoted Charles McKenna:

Tony Glenville, creative director at the London College of Fashion, said that even if men were not always aware of fashion, they were taking in peripherally what other men were wearing on the red carpet and at weddings. “Black is still important in fashion terms,” he said, “but instead of being the only colour, it’s taking its place in the colour group.”

With the maximum disrespect to Tony – the type of disrespect I’d ordinarily reserve for a man I’ve just met in the pub with a white, thinly striped, open-necked shirt and beige jacket, talking about rugby – I wonder if he’s ever caught himself mid-sentence and started to weep uncontrollably at the emptiness of his life. If he hasn’t, a couple more fashion units (‘years’) are all he can expect before his picture is seen on the news while Clive Myrie grimly relays the words “before turning the gun on himself”.

Because filling your life with vacuousness like this is like swallowing air instead of food: you might not feel like eating for a while but you’re no less empty. Life doesn’t have to be serious all the time, and most days if you don’t laugh you’ll cry. But the braindead superficiality of this aspect of our lives makes us look like people who laugh delightedly at the wrapping paper of the presents around the tree without comprehending that the gifts inside are the reason we have to spend another fucking Christmas at Grandma’s in the first place.