Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

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Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:54 pm

I don't imagine for one second that this is the only thing I need concern myself with re: dating woes, or even anywhere near the most important. But it does seem like it might be one factor and it seems simple enough that I feel like I can articulate most of it without tripping over myself, so I'm starting (over) with this. That said, it's still probably going to end up being a sprawling and broad topic.

I don't know what to do with my hair. Regular head-hair is included in that but is not at the forefront of my thoughts. Mostly the thing is facial and body hair.

I don't have a strong opinion about my own body hair. As far as I know it has basically nothing to do with how I see myself. I have long leg hairs, some arm hair, almost no visible torso hair other than near the areolas, and patches of armpit hair. It does look kind of weird to me but then bodies in general look weird to me. I'm comfortable enough in mine. To date I have never tried to shave any of it because I have never seen much of a consensus on what any cross-section of women tends to prefer; I figure if I meet a woman who wants me to shave any part, I can always do that then; but if I meet one who would prefer I hadn't, it'll take a while to grow it all back out. Right way to go, or wrong conclusion from false premises?

I am more conflicted about facial hair, and no less uncertain. I personally do not much like the way my facial hair looks on me. It grows in slowly, and exclusively occupies smallish areas above my upper lip and on my chin. I have occasionally let it grow out a little, and a (male) friend once made a comment along the lines of "it's like it grows in already styled". I have never heard any real negative feedback about it, except that in high school a few adults occasionally commented that I looked more mature with a clean-shaven face. From the acquaintances and OKCupid profiles in my area that I've ever seen comment on facial hair at all (few in number relative to female acquaintances in general), the trend seems to be that beards and facial hair are favored. But I still don't really like how I look with grown-out facial hair. I also don't know for sure if those particular women are thinking of my form of facial hair when they talk about facial hair or if their mental images are oriented more toward the White men in my area with big bushy faces the likes of which I'd never manage without adhesives anyway. I guess my concern is that when I'm clean-shaven I feel at minimum not-ugly but may not actually be attractive, but if I grow out my facial hair I'll just end up feeling more self-conscious, and still might not end up being more attractive to anyone it would matter to. Again—am I thinking about this the right way, or should I be more (or less) concerned about this or that?

As for head hair, I've got the ultra-dark brown color typical for Japanese folks, but a tiny bit of curliness from my mom's White-ish side. When relatively short, it lies flat and straight except for the ends and thus looks like Superman hair except even dorkier unless I gel it to either stand up a bit or flatten out further. When worn longer, it gets wavy and fans out a bit and makes a few kind of sparse horn-shaped curls toward the front, which gel only temporarily helps to flatten. The only near-zero-maintenance option is to constantly keep it super super short, and that's only near-zero-maintenance in the sense that I'd have to make frequent barber appointments instead of just doing a few things in the morning and getting a monthly trim. Not that I'm necessarily looking for low-maintenance, but again I don't have particularly strong opinions on what's supposed to look "good" here, so I've thus far been going with what's easiest and doesn't embarrass my mirror image too much.

What it comes down to, I guess, is that as far as self-worth goes I am mostly comfortable with my own appearance. I am open to some changes but reluctant to experiment arbitrarily because of the time-cost of doing so. I am just not sure what the rest of the world will think, if there's even a significant enough fraction that would care, and then I don't know how to appropriately weigh external judgments about my appearance against what would be at least short-term discomfort with the "stranger" in the mirror and the external judgments that would result from that.

I'd offer pictures/mugshots but I don't currently have a lot of good ones at my disposal so it'd be a few months before I could show anything to allow for meaningful comparisons.
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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by Caffeinated on Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:08 pm

I think that on the subjects of body hair and facial hair, you've already got a good answer. Leave the body hair unshaved unless you gain a reason to shave it. And don't grow in the facial hair since you don't like the way it looks. On the subject of head hair, I would say that it's a good idea to invest the time and effort to experiment with hair length and style until you find something that works. As for what works, I'd say it would be a combination of something you like the look of, other people like the look of (good to talk to a trusted friend or friends, as well as a hair stylist), and that doesn't exceed the amount of maintenance you're willing to do. I would also say that attempting to increase the amount of maintenance you're willing to do is worthwhile, as a good hairstyle can be a very important part of an overall look and worth the effort. Of course, this is all just my opinion, but there it is.
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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by InkAndComb on Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:12 pm

Seconding what caffeinated said, but also tossing this out; are you getting your hair cut in locations with people who have similar hair? I find that if you can find someone with similar ethnicity(?) hairwise, it can make a huge difference. My bf seems like he'd have white-person hair but he doesn't, and because of its thickness and texture many people in town struggle to get it to fall the way they intended after a trim (leading to buzzing it all off).

I also suggest looking into alternative products; experiment with hair pomade vs stiffening powder vs hairspray, etc; people's hair reacts differently to different items, don't be afraid to try them all to see what works best. If your hair is getting lengthier and waviness is a problem, a straightener can really make the style difference (even in medium-to-short hair). It can limit the texture so that your styling is the only texture people will see versus competing with your natural hairline
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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by nearly_takuan on Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:24 pm

InkAndComb wrote:Seconding what caffeinated said, but also tossing this out; are you getting your hair cut in locations with people who have similar hair? I find that if you can find someone with similar ethnicity(?) hairwise, it can make a huge difference. My bf seems like he'd have white-person hair but he doesn't, and because of its thickness and texture many people in town struggle to get it to fall the way they intended after a trim (leading to buzzing it all off).

Similar/same ethnicity is all but impossible to find in this particular area, especially given I'm a slightly uncommon mix to begin with, but that doesn't rule the idea out; maybe if I do the legwork I will eventually find a place with an existing population of people with almost-wavy dark hair. In any case, this is definitely a way better idea than the "find a celebrity photo with hair that would look good on you" advice that gets doled out to the general (White) population. Razz Thanks!

InkAndComb wrote:I also suggest looking into alternative products; experiment with hair pomade vs stiffening powder vs hairspray, etc; people's hair reacts differently to different items, don't be afraid to try them all to see what works best.  If your hair is getting lengthier and waviness is a problem, a straightener can really make the style difference (even in medium-to-short hair).  It can limit the texture so that your styling is the only texture people will see versus competing with your natural hairline

Also thanks for this; it'll definitely be awkward at first (curse you, societal expectations of masculinity w/r/t attention to one's own appearance) but probably worth it in the long run.
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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by reboot on Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:33 pm

NT, my roommate is mostly Japanese but has some mix that gives him a wave/body to his hair that tended to stump Asian (that wave) and white (that spikey, coarse texture) hair stylists, so he tried Mexican/Central American barbers and had much better luck. Currently his barber is Navajo and that has also been a success, but that might be harder to find outside of AZ and NM.
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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by Werel on Wed Jan 14, 2015 7:09 pm

Thirding Caffeinated on facial and body hair. Most women I have discussed it with are not big on body-shaving in men, and if you meet one who is, it's easy enough to start doing it.

Re: head hair, seconding "find somebody whose hair is similar to yours and get their barber's card." I was having similar-ish mismatches with hairdressers around here who were used to fine/straight hair until I asked a wavy-haired classmate for recs. Also, don't rule out trying a salon salon (hush, societal expectations of masculinity); if you're looking to have a serious consultation with a hair professional about options for flattering, low-maintenance cuts, hairdressers (vs. barbers) are often more willing to take the time to discuss what you're looking for and how best to achieve that. If money's a deterrent, then you get your nice salon haircut once, take a photo, and take it to a cheaper barber for maintenance. Smile
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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by Jayce on Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:38 pm

I'm a guy thats a big fan of shaving off all body and facial hair. Dosen't it feel uncomfortable or prickly to you when you have it? I mean I used to never shave my pubic area and the hairs just grew and it felt really inconvinent. Like I had to be extra careful everytime I pull up my zipper. And when you shave everything just seems so smooth. When I touch my legs and all the hairs are in the way, it just sucks to have something in between your hands and your skin.

The only areas I don't shave are my arms, my back and my arse area, mostly because I don't have much hair in those areas, or they are hard to reach.

If a woman told me to stop shaving it'll be a dealbreaker ;p.

Also aren't most conventionally attractive men clean shaven? I think shaved is more popular than hairy. So if you're doing it to attract somebody as well, it probably would be more likely that more wonen prefer shaved.

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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by kath on Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:24 am

I think the beard thing being particularly popular is a fad. If you don't like it, I don't think not doing it will even stick out as a Thing, so don't feel like you need to (and I say this as someone with a trendy haircut).

And also agreeing with general consensus on body shaving, if you don't want to do it, there's no reason to do so, and it won't stick out as odd. If you do try it and like it, though, go for it.

As to head hair, I think you've gotten the best advice. I don't think you particularly need to cater to what other people will like here - if you think it looks good and feels good, that's probably going to impact how you wear it more than whether it is the exact haircut someone always imagined their dream man having.
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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by Guest on Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:30 am

It's okay, my dream is to have a curly mustache. I still can't grow one yet. ;-;

Me? I'm crazy about beards. I want one too so bad, I'd love to have a combat/tactical/battle beard. Or a John Muir beard, or maybe even lumberjack beard. :3 But apparently, I look better with light scruff and clean shaven.

Eh, c'est la vie.~

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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by Nerdator on Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:50 am

@OP, I'd say you should believe your high school teachers regarding the facial hair. A bit on the upper lip and some on the chin just screams 'I'm 14' (at least for Caucasians) – with all the unflattering associations that typically arise from this. Evenness and thickness* are crucial for looking well with hair on your face, and there is no shame at all in just shaving your face clean.

And here's my bit on removing body hair – I have a considerable amount everywhere and remove some of it (not shaving, trimming with an electric trimmer is far, far better – it's cheaper, much lower on maintenance and doesn't create any discomfort). Specifically the armpit and naughty bit hair – if the bush is thick there, it's simply hard to clean it well and to manage bad smells (there are few things worse than leaving the shower and realising that your armpits still stink).
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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by UristMcBunny on Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:36 am

There is such a lot of variation in what is considered attractive that, generally, your best bet is to balance between what you like, and what common preferences tend to exist among the specific sort of people you're into. For example - with the current expansion in acceptability of beards and longer hair on men, a lot of women are coming out of the woodwork who are into men who are hairy in general (myself included!). At the same time, TV celebrities tend to be shaved most of the time - I assume it started out as a way to more easily display muscle tone and definition - and that shorn look is something I know a lot of women like.

Now, the important thing. You like how you look. You have good self-image. Personally, I'd steer clear of major physical changes with that in mind. But yeah, in terms of head hair finding a good stylist who can work with your hair and help you find a style and treatment that won't be too labour-intensive, but will still look good, sounds like something worth doing. I know my other half's middle-back length, super-thick super-curly, frizz hair looks dramatically better the few times we've taken him to a women's hairdressers to have it trimmed, and his beard has improved significantly since we found a barber who specialises in minimal-sculpting trims on longer beards.

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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:54 am

Glad there seems to be something of a consensus! And stuff that sounds like a plan! Figured this would be one of the easier questions but it was easier than I thought. Razz

Thanks, folks.
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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by Werel on Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:02 pm

Had a thought: depending on how averse you are to signaling anything hipster-adjacent, I think you could really rock something in the admittedly trendy vein of shorter sides/back, with top worn longer and intentionally messy (which wavy-ish hair usually does on its own). Not a full-on undercut (though it might look great), but something closer to this, this, or this. Something which falls across the forehead. But I'm a sucker for messy hair which begs to be tousled, so salt my opinion accordingly.
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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by Conreezy on Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:18 pm

The only near-zero-maintenance option is to constantly keep it super super short, and that's only near-zero-maintenance in the sense that I'd have to make frequent barber appointments instead of just doing a few things in the morning and getting a monthly trim.

It's amazingly low maintenance. I love it. I do it myself with a body hair trimmer, which has saved me a lot of money and time. (Occasionally, I let it grow out and go see a barber for a shave and a haircut, but that's just for enjoyment. )

It doesn't work for everyone, though, and while I enjoy the simple, clean look, it's not exactly fashion-forward.


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Re: Self-image versus others' preferences: hair edition

Post by Autumnflame on Sat Jan 17, 2015 12:26 am

Werel wrote:Had a thought: depending on how averse you are to signaling anything hipster-adjacent, I think you could really rock something in the admittedly trendy vein of shorter sides/back, with top worn longer and intentionally messy (which wavy-ish hair usually does on its own). Not a full-on undercut (though it might look great), but something closer to this, this, or this. Something which falls across the forehead. But I'm a sucker for messy hair which begs to be tousled, so salt my opinion accordingly.

Man, I know the undercut/its adjacent cousins are so common as to be eminently mockable at this point, but I am such a sap for it. Lovestruck
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