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Introduction: Head hair forms a central component of the sociocultural male appearance ideal (e.g.,
mesomorphic, tall, young and not bald) and carries masculine connotations and stigma. Immense pressures to conform to this male appearance ideal gives rise to body dissatisfaction. Previous assessments of body dissatisfaction are too narrow, ignoring dissatisfaction beyond mesomorphy such as baldness dissatisfaction. Our study involved two research questions: (i) Do the facial expressions assigned to images of bald and non-bald men differ? and (ii) What forms of body dissatisfaction, including baldness dissatisfaction, do men have and are these related to men’s wellbeing and muscularity behaviours?
Method: Eighty-six male participants aged 18–58 years (mean = 23.62; standard deviation = 7.80) were randomly exposed to 10 images of smiling men (half balding and half not) and were asked to rate the facial expression displayed. Participants also rated their body dissatisfaction and wellbeing. Ethics statement: Institutional ethics approval was granted.
Results: We found that participants interpreted the facial expressions of images of bald men slightly more negatively than non-bald men. Most participants reported some form of body dissatisfaction correlated with wellbeing and muscularity enhancing behaviours, albeit weakly. Participants also disclosed a range of body dissatisfaction aspects (including surrounding muscularity, body fat, teeth alignment, skin tone and facial hair amount) though generally were not impacted heavily nor highly dissatisfied.
Conclusion: These findings underscore the complex challenge in producing a complete assessment of men’s body dissatisfaction and the general resilience men experience with extant appearance pressures around their bodies and head hair.
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