Lisa Markwell: It's worth it to spare the torment of a 'no hair day'

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The Independent Online

There's a football tournament on, I believe, but the only way in which this impinges on my life – other than the interest required professionally – is that it affords me the opportunity to study Wayne Rooney's hair transplant in close-up.

Will the heat in Ukraine affect the tufts of recent growth? Is the fact that it appears to be a bit blonde a sign from whence it came? I need details. Others may scoff at such a trivial matter but it is not trivial at all to those who are losing or who have lost their hair.

This is a rare moment of sympathy across the sexes. The fact that saggy, wrinkly, overweight men attract very little negative attention – while something as innocuous as Madonna's fiftysomething breast (which appears to be relatively fit for purpose) gets howls of 'put 'em away, love' that can be heard across the globe – is pretty unfair.

Women get the lion's share of appearance judgment; the one aspect in which this is reversed is hair loss. Slapheads are sneered at, comb-overs the cause of cackling. Women who routinely complain about 'bad hair days' have, by logical extention, 'good hair days'. They don't have 'no hair days.' And so there is balance: we have something that is ours. Men are assumed to be disgusted when faced with cellulite, women can look upon a face that has more hair up the chimney than on the mantelpiece with distain.

But wait. We guffawed when Elton John was an early adopter of the transplant and raised eyebrows at the £35k price tag on Wayne Rooney's procedure. In fact, for a famous person to change their visual destiny so obviously suggests desperation. And I know how that feels.

Admittedly it was temporary, but when, during chemotherapy, I lost all my hair, I looked upon balding men with a new understanding. To see oneself without hair is grotesque, a hall of mirrors/Portrait of Dorian Gray trick. For it to happen in one's forties or fifties is bad enough, but for a 26-year-old it must be devastating. I endured nine hours of fiddly, painful ministrations that wove real hair onto my sprouting tufts when cancer treatment was over, to try and look again like my old self.

So what if Rooney wants to spend thousands on treatment (although it makes less of a dent on his finances than on those of, say, Joe Bloggs, a baldie butcher in Bracknell)? What he's ended up with – on close inspection during the Euro 2012 tournament and on the sport pages – is a little bit quiffy, a little bit sparse and not entirely natural looking. The bald truth is that a little bit of vanity is what makes us all human – even mega-earning footballers.