To provide some background I work in tech job which overlaps with academia, think mix of college, software and IT company, I`ve been quite fond of horizontal mobility, flexibility and ability to experiment with career paths, this type of work culture provides, since it allowed me to escape burnout many times. Once manager offered me to switch to mentor/lecturer position. I glady accepted offer, since I always considered interpersonal relationships my forte and paycheck was considerably higher as well. Fast forward two years and receding hairline started to bother me, while normally it was easily hidden thanks to long hair, after watching few "embracement" videos on youtube and encouragement from peers I finally "shaved it". Little I knew that it was one of my biggest mistakes, fast forward two months again, when new batch of students arrived. People started treating way differently than before, students started to address me with plural pronouns (way you refer to person generation older than you in my native language, rough english equivalent would be constantly referring to one with Mr or Sir) including some of students that were older than me, they were way more reluctant to ask questions or interrupt me, I often made mistakes intentionally to naturally encourage activity and discussion and it stopped working, also my first observation was that students stopped hanging around and asking lecture related questions and clarifications during break, which was common before, and gave me way to "break ice" with students that were shy to rise hand during lecture. Usually my lectures were pretty heated and interactive, I was constantly bombarded with questions and students didn't shy away from refering to me without formalities and sometimes with friendly jargon, but after changing my hairstyle that familarity that was crucial to my workflow is lost, is there any way to recover from this or I should throw in a towel and seek career switch ?
Been there, was there. Other than a few minor details my story is very similar, worked as manager in a small company and after a motorcycle accident had to walk with stick at age of 27. With the local culture being very ableist and lookist it meant an end to my career.
Unlike you I didn't have, "horizontal mobility". I would consider the option of a career switch, especially if you have easy means for it. Reality is that appearance is the lion's share when you are in profession which centers on communication, it can make or break your career.
I think you just need to give yourself time to adjust to this new paridigm and embrace it for what it is. I have the opposite problem and I think it has contributed to me being stuck as a senior developer at age 52. People mistake me for someone way younger than what I am as I have zero hair loss and zero grey hair, something I haven't seen in any other person even in their 40s. My goal in the new year is to get into shape again and I know from past experience it makes this even worse