Why men's hair has came under scrutiny like never before

Like every other person trying to make sense of where we fit into this world I've spent far too much time watching TED Talks about how to improve my situation, instead of actively trying to improve my situation. 

It's become a sick kind of ritual at this point. Someone smart and well-dressed strolls purposefully across the stage, doling out platitudes via their Madonna mic while the large TED letters loom behind them. 

For 18 minutes, I am utterly inspired, ready to change the world. Then the TED talk finishes and I spend the next hour watching movie trailers for films I've already seen. 

Baby steps to success

But one TED talk stuck with me earlier this year; it was about making your small wins work for you

Hosted by Canadian educator, Mehraz Bassini, the conversation expanded on the idea that bigger isn't always better - sometimes a series of tiny wins is just as valuable.

"Small wins have transformational power," explained Mehraz. 

"Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion to favour another small win and another small win until the combination of these small wins leads to larger and greater accomplishments."

A cut above

As part of a generation unfamiliar with big wins, I latched on to this talk as proof it was ok to celebrate every victory, no matter how minor, which explains why I so was jubilant last week after getting a great haircut. I've had my ups and downs with my barber, but this time he nailed it. 

"Would you like any product?" he asked, removing my smock. Absolutely not! So perfect is this cut that to tarnish it with a matte, mousse or putty would be criminal.


I left the shop high on the energy of my hair. Colours were brighter; food tasted better, I signed off every email with Cheers! instead of just Cheers. 

But I knew that the good times wouldn't last forever. Before this perfect cut, I'd been consumed by fear on two fronts.

Unforeseen circumstances

Firstly, my hair was changing. Not thinning or balding, just rearranging. It sat differently, became a kind of LEGO helmet if left unattended. For the best part of thirty years, we'd been working together in perfect hair-nomy, but now it was acting out.  

Secondly, male hair has never been more intensely scrutinised, and for this, I blame Donald Trump's questionable quiff and the brilliant mess that is Boris Johnson. 

They are two of the world's most photographed men, yet they always look like they've come straight from (failing) clown school. 

So feverish is the fascination with their hair, they even have their own Twitter accounts. Donald's hairdo tweets from @TrumpsHair while @Boris_Hair gives updates from the British PM's scalp. 

It's worrying that at a time when male hair is under the microscope, mine has decided to go through a teen angst period. 

My hair slams the bedroom door, storms away from the dinner table, screams you'll never understand me while I try hopelessly to understand. 

The seven year itch

I voiced my concerns to the barber who listened with all the intensity of a well-paid therapist. "Don't be afraid of change, it's completely natural, and it happens to all of us, every seven years." 

He's right too. 

Turns out our hair operates on a seven-year cycle and with each passing phase, the hair grows back shorter, in different bundles, creating a new look and feel. 

 I've spent years experimenting with different looks - short on the side, long on top, long on the sides, short on top, middle part, no middle part, fade, deep fade, take it down to the skull fade. 

And it was all for nothing, my hair history wiped clean. Unsurprisingly I've been ranting about this change to anyone who will listen. 

"Did you know our hair is on a seven-year cycle, it changes! Did anyone know this???" 

It's all I've got

Eventually, a friend of mine – he's bald and therefore has no vested interest in hair theories – asked why I care so much. 

I think it's because, for most men, it's all we have really. When my fiancee needs 'a glow up' (her words not mine), she has options. Potions, lotions, moisturiser, a coffee scrub. Then comes the base tint, a bit-but-not-too-much mascara, tan, lashes.

But for me, reliable hair was enough to get me by. In a world of disastrous Donald's, it was my Trump card, and now I don't know what to expect from the future. There is no follicle Oracle that will reveal what's in store, and that is a scary thought. 

"At least you have hair," said my bald friend, clearly giving me the wrap-up. I guess he has a point, small wins and all that. 

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

After continually being told to "use his words" as a young boy, Thomas Mitchell took that advice on board and never looked back. Since then his words appeared all over the place, including in the Sydney Morning Herald, Time Out, The Huffington Post and GQ. Thomas spends his days observing the unique behaviour of the Australian male, while trying not to overstay his welcome at the local cafe.

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