Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/109

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99
HATS AS A CAUSE OF BALDNESS.

it is now soft, thin, and flexible, like that of the forehead or other portions of smooth integument. It has lost a distinct anatomical structure; the hair-bulbs and accessories have withered away. Baldness from disease has no choice of location; it occurs irregularly on any part of the head, or affects the whole surface, quite distinct in this respect from the perfectly regular course of hat-baldness. The latter should not be regarded as a disease at all, but rather as an accident of habit.

It does not follow that all persons wearing these objectionable hats must lose their hair. The outline of the head may be irregular, or the blood-vessels may be protected by a thick growth of hair. Close cutting, from this point of view, is injurious, as it allows close contact with the skin. But, few will escape the evil effects of twenty or thirty years of rigid tight-fitting hats, the destructive process being delayed only by the length and frequency of respites from this tourniquet of fashion. I have never seen a person whose habitual head-covering was soft and yielding suffer from baldness. The agriculturist, whose habit it is to wear the loosest head-coverings during the greater part of his life, has usually more hair than is conducive to comfort; but his son who has taken to city life may be bald at thirty. I think it will be noticed that the most rapid cases are among city men with close-cut hair who wear the high hat. It must fit closer, as from its height it is more liable to displacement.

The accuracy with which the hatter plies his trade is skill and energy in the wrong direction. The little instrument, the "conformator," that marks on paper the outline of one's head by which the band is molded to press more uniformly all around, is more destructive of the natural head-covering than ever were the scalping-knives of the North American Indians. It is nothing uncommon to see an old negro, who has taken to high hats, with a bald and shiny pate above and an abundant crop of hair below the hat-rim. I have long been convinced, although history is silent on this point, that old Uncle Ned

"Who had no hair on the top of his head,
In the place where the wool ought to grow"

was the favored recipient of his master's old silk hats.

Baldness is not confined to race or occupation, but it is to sex. While forty or fifty per cent of middle-aged and elderly city men show some stage of it, women are entirely exempt. They are subject to the same laws of heredity, have the same habits and occupations as men, and yet have as much hair to-day as at any previous time in the world's history. This can only be explained by the essential difference in the head-coverings of the two sexes; and yet the head-gear of women has been condemned and ridiculed in various styles of literature, principally by the high-hat sex. It may not often commend itself to one's sense of utility; it may be at one time a mere nucleus for