Prince William and the Important Distinction Between Bald and Balding

The Duke of Cambridge was controversially named the world's sexiest bald man, highlighting a crucial difference between going bald and being bald

side by side headshots of Stanley Tucci and Prince William
Stanley Tucci: Bald. Prince William: Balding.
SOPA Images / Pool / Max Mumby

In case you missed it, the internet was briefly consumed by debates over the sexiness of bald men over the weekend, specifically the sexiness (or lack thereof) of a certain Duke of Cambridge. This happened because media outlets refuse to stop ranking human beings on the basis of physical attractiveness, and a recent report from UK-based tabloid The Sun revealed the title of “World’s Sexiest Bald Man” had been handed to Prince William — a man who, while clearly balding, is arguably not nearly as sexy as early-aughts media coverage made him out to be.

This decision sparked confusion and mild outrage, with the internet’s general reaction perhaps best summarized by arguably much sexier bald man Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, who tweeted, “How in the cinnamon toast f*ck does this happen?” Calls for a recount ensued, with folks demanding justice for more deserving sexy bald men, from Stanley Tucci to Larry David.

While I commend the survey for bringing attention to the oft-overlooked sexiness of bald men, naming Prince William among them, let alone the sexiest of them all, is an insult to bald men everywhere. As Josh Gondelman put it, “If Prince William weren’t a prince, he would not even be in the running for the sexiest bald guy at any given DMV on any given day.” Part of the problem might simply be that Prince William just isn’t sexy — never has been — and it seems the world is finally ready to acknowledge that uncomfortable truth. Prince William wasn’t sexy when he had a full head of hair and every rom-com of the early aughts featured an obligatory joke about the female lead having a crush on him, and he’s not sexy now. The man has the kind of face only generations of royal inbreeding can produce, and no amount of hair could ever change that. 

My own personal thoughts on the Duke of Cambridge’s complete lack of sex appeal aside, one of the biggest reasons Prince William is unfit to stand as a representative for sexy bald men is that he’s not really bald; he’s balding. I do not wish to hairline-shame here — what a man does with his hair, or last remaining hairs, is his own business — but there is a distinct and crucial difference between bald and balding, one this whole debacle has brought to light.  

The sexy bald man is one who has committed to a life of Bic-ed-ness: Tucci, The Rock, Michael Jordan, etc. Whether they decided to ditch their hair in an attempt to get ahead of a receding hairline or simply as an aesthetic choice, these are men who have committed to an intentional look, men who have stared the inevitability of eventual hair loss in the face and made the executive decision to take it into their own hands. As a scene from, interestingly enough, SpongeBob Squarepants argues, “shaved” is a hairdo; bald is an accident.

The willful shedding of one’s hair — something many men try, usually in vain, to preserve, mask or replenish — is a brave act of vulnerability. To take a razor to your head is to part with a layer of protection from the outside world, one to which many people cling desperately. It is in this willful embrace of vulnerability that the sexiness of baldness lies. This kind of baldness suggests confidence, and the “non-threatening social dominance” with which one 2017 study found bald men are often associated.

Prince William’s brand of baldness, on the other hand, suggests the opposite. Here is a man who appears to be clinging desperately to a hairline that has long since forsaken him. Does he deserve credit for simply “aging naturally?” Maybe, but that still doesn’t make it sexy. It may only seem natural to want to hold onto what remains of one’s youthful locks for as long as possible, but the simple, if counterintuitive, truth is that a fully hairless head will almost always look better — and younger — than a partially balding one.

Again, what a man does or does not do with his hair is between him and his hairline. But if you want advice from me, a woman who has had sex with men of various states of hairlessness, I would 1,000 times rather put my hands against your naked skull skin than try to run my fingers through your last remaining wisps of hair.

A receding hairline will come for us all at one time or another, and while hair loss treatments have seen some improvements in recent years, it often remains in a man’s best interest to simply beat nature at its own game. Meet your receding hairline razor-first, and show the world the fearless, sexy cue ball you are.

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