Premature Hair Loss

Medication in the american society is idolized in the context of bio-medicalization and medicalization. Our culture sees medication consumption as an answer for every issue or problem. Even natural human functions such as menopause and menstruation are turned into symptoms of an illness. The medications are advertised in society and are shown as by taking a pill these symptoms can be covered up. This shows our culture as being reliant on biomedicine. Instead of looking at the cause we look for a treatment of a symptom. Our culture is seen as fast pace and wants the quickest solution to their problems. This weeks materials show the idolizing of medication through its commercials of birth control, erectile dysfunction, and menopause. All of which are natural occurrences in our lives.

As a cultural value, hair loss is seen as a sign of old age. This can be embarrassing for young men who they call “premature” hair loss as a symptom when in reality some people just grow less hair then others. It is interesting to refer to it as premature, when what is the proper age to loose hair? Our society sees loss of hair as an illness or as an elder person, which people do not want to look older than they are. They present this medical information in commercials and advertisements showing men, young and old, that they can regain their youth by using certain products to make their hair grow in certain areas or grow longer. This condition is mostly seen as over the counter products and rarely has a patient- doctor interaction accept for some hair plug commercials that do recommend speaking with your doctor or a professional. Other ways these products are advertised are in stores and on infomercials, trying to sell their products by using before and after examples of previous patients showing happiness with their new looks.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ben Caldwell says:

    I would like to start by saying how incredible I found this advertisement is. If a baldness cream that comes out of exploding Easter Island heads doesn’t do it for you I don’t know what will. But on a more serious note, I definitely agree that baldness is a condition that has entered the realm of “illness” and as such has been treated medically. Like many other conditions that have been treated in a similar fashion, baldness is the result of getting old. The idea of treating it medically undoubtedly stems from the fact that culturally, we value looking young. Watch TV for an hour and you are sure to see advertisements to reduce wrinkles, get rid of gray hair, and revitalize your energy to make you feel like you’re 10 years younger. Thus, the medicalization of hair loss is certainly influenced culturally.

    Economics is another contributing factor. Pharmaceutical companies see that people don’t want to go bald, so they come up with a product that may help treat or prevent it along with causing a litany of side effects, and they market it to the public. They can make a killing selling this product by marketing to the public because it appeals to our cultural value on youthful appearance.

    Conrad, Peter, and Deborah Potter. “From Hyperactive Children To ADHD Adults: Observations On The Expansion Of Medical Categories.” Social Problems 47: 559-582.http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us14/files/2012/06/Conrad-and-Potter-From-hyperactive-children-to-adult-adhd.pdf (accessed August 3, 2014).

  2. holechri says:

    Baldness as an illness is kind of an odd concept. As someone who has gone through baldness extremely early, I definitely see how it can be though of as an an illness. It definitely has physical signs of showing a difference in the body’s chemistry and genetics from what is seen as the social norm. It becomes crippling to a degree or at least detrimental to a person’s state of mind because of the cultural control on society. The cultural control that social norms hold on our looks compared to what is seen as attractive provide a boost for promotion and a demand for the supply of drugs such as hair recovery products. Because of this the economic value of this product’s market reaches a pretty large niche group, as males lose their hair at all ages. The supply and demand will always be there as well, this is because the products don’t treat the cause, but rather deal with the symptoms by regrowing some hair follicles as long as use of the product is continuous. This also leads to a lengthened period of time in which the drug is purchased and used by customers. As long as hair is wanted in the location that it has thinned or disappeared, people will buy the drug. Social norms and the possibility for economic gain propel the use and promotion of such drugs.

    Conrad, Peter, and Deborah Potter. “From Hyperactive Children To ADHD Adults: Observations On The Expansion Of Medical Categories.” Social Problems 47: 559-582.http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us14/files/2012/06/Conrad-and-Potter-From-hyperactive-children-to-adult-adhd.pdf (accessed August 3, 2014).

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