Tech Needs More Bald Avatars
Bald is beautiful.
This has been my mantra since my 30s.
I didn’t notice the bald spot until my mid-20s. I thought to myself, You’re tall. No one will notice that small bald spot.
Problem is, that bald spot grew until it was too tough to ignore.
So, I fired it before it quit. This means that I started shaving it before the spot took over the top of my head.
Yes, bald is beautiful. Balding is, well, less desirable for most.
After all, in terms of desirability, there’s a laundry list of leading men who’ve donned the chrome dome crown. They’re my heroes. I go back as far as Telly Savalas from my childhood. Other bald warrior heroes include Michael Jordan, Bruce Willis, and Samuel L. Jackson.
They owned their baldness. I wanted to own that look, too.
My wife got on board a few years after we started dating. We started with clippers. There are guards for clippers that range from “0” on up. The lower the number, the closer the clip. We started with “2” and gradually moved down to “0.”
Soon I wasn’t using a guard at all.
Around my early 40s, razors were introduced. It was an expensive move because, well, have you seen the price of men’s razors? Not cheap. When you’re trying to maintain a clean bald look, you’re shaving at least 3 or 4 times a week.
On good days, the razor moves at a steady pace, leaving no stubble in its wake. On bad days, you need a tourniquet just to stop the blood flow from countless cuts.
My kids have never known Dad-with-hair. My wife laughs when a kid makes the unusual request for me to grow it out. “No one wants to see that,” is my reply.
My kids also laugh when, while gaming, I create an avatar for myself. “Dad, that doesn’t look at all like you,” one kid will chuckle. “Your (avatar) has hair, and not just on his face.”
This is certainly true. Some Nintendo games, for example, give me the option for creating what’s supposed to be a lookalike figure. But it looks nothing like me. What’s odd is that Nintendo give us older guys options for facial hair, but no options for the bald look.
A friend who battled cancer and chemo treatments lamented this deficiency in games to me a few years ago.
“I’m not bald by choice here,” he said, after a particularly rough radiation run. Having lost all his hair, he said, “I have the option to create an avatar with no eyebrows, which I don’t have right now, by the way. But my avatar still has hair on his head? Doesn’t look like me at all.”
Of course, this isn’t true for all avatars. For example, programmers for services like Facebook and Bitmoji provide bald options.
Now it’s time for the rest of the tech industry to step up and recognize our shine. We need avatar programmers to hear us and see us (even if they need sunglasses to lessen the glare from our shiny heads).
Many of us didn’t choose to be bald, but we own the look and (mostly) love it.
It’s time for the rest of these programmers to fall in love with our look, too.
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Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is special assistant to the provost and professor of communication in the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA where he also directs the graduate program in professional communication. He researches and writes on a variety of topics including communication technologies, relationships, and sports (with an emphasis on fandom). His work has appeared in Mahoning Matters as well as The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers.