Is Baldness On The Path To Extinction?

And if it is, what of the iconic bald men of history and literature? At least, that's what some people are asking.

Esquire recently ran a piece commenting on advances in ending baldness; it seems they've found that "dormant follicular stem cells can be stimulated to cause the regeneration of hair." Great news for many, but what them will become, asks the New Yorker's Ian Crouch, of literary icons like Pnin? I'd add, what of Daddy Warbucks, or Mr. Clean? Will people even know what "bald" means?

I'm guessing not everyone would avail themselves of any miracle cure any more than everyone does contacts now; the word, at least, is safe from extinction. But I do wonder if the meaning will change; as it stands now, making a character Kojak-bald has always denoted a certain strength of purpose; will that only increase? It does seem to have affected glasses a little; once, it just meant you had poor eyesight. Now when someone wears glasses they're choosing to do so rather than sport contacts or go in for laser surgery. Will baldness go through a similar transition? I guess when we see a bald American Apparel model — rather than one with artfully mussed bed-head — we'll know. Assuming, that is, the company lasts that long.


Cure Baldness, Kill Literature [New Yorker]
A World Without Balding [Esquire]