ALTHOUGH MEN WORRY ABOUT HOW HAIR LOSS WILL AFFECT THEIR PHYSICAL APPEAL, THE FACT IS THAT PEOPLE ARE EASILY ABLE TO RECOGNIZE THE BEAUTY IN A BALD HEAD.
“There’s nothing that really sends me into orbit like my man’s bald head,” says one woman. Another states, “There are days when the way that the light glints off my guy’s beautiful, sleek dome makes me so ‘distracted’ that I can barely keep my mind on my work,” while a third opines, “I care way less about some guy’s money, or his brains, or even his ‘equipment’ than I do about how smooth his scalp is.”
Often, a bald man’s fear about his attractiveness is all “in his head” rather than “on top of his head.” How others perceive his physical beauty is heavily influenced by how comfortable and confident he is with his own looks.
So there are plenty of women who are going to be attracted to a man with hair loss because that hair loss is simply part of him. And then there are people who are going to be attracted specifically because a man is bald. In the latter case, this attraction can sometimes be exaggerated to the point that it could be considered an erotic fixation on baldness.
What is a bald erotic fixation?
“An erotic fixation is a preoccupation with either an object — say, gloves or bathing suits or theoretically Saran wrap — or a non-genital body part — often feet — that is a habitual part of an individual’s sexual arousal system,” says Nancy Dreyfus, Psy.D., author of Talk to Me Like I’m Someone You Love: Relationship Repair in a Flash (www.nancydreyfus.com). “Acomophilia” is the formal word for a baldness fetish, although it is usually used in reference to a fetish related to bald women.
“People have all sorts of erotic preferences,” says Isadora Alman, a marriage and family therapist and author of Psychology Today’s Sex & Sociology Blog. “Some, such as American men and breasts, are cultural, and some, such as small high breasts vs. large round ones, are fashion fads. Of course, these are trends and not everyone in the culture or time period adheres to them. Some erotic preferences are conscious, but many are of unknown causes.
“I had a friend who liked thick ankles and legs on women — not a popular turn-on. He remembers being a baby crawling around under the table in his mother’s kitchen when her women friends, who all had thick ankles, visited; he found that exciting.” Alman adds, “One of my clients adored his partner’s bald head because he said it looked like a penis.”
It’s flattering to be an object of intense erotic attraction, but it could be off-putting to a man who felt he was loved for his baldness and not himself.
“If a man is a boob man, a woman wouldn’t reject him out of hand because he never tired of her breasts,” says Dreyfus. “She would just want to make sure that he loved her soul and liked her as a person. If a woman feels really liked and seen for who she is, the boob fascination is an add-on that could make her feel feminine. If she doesn’t feel cared for as a person, it will make her feel objectified and annoyed. I don’t think it’s that different from a baldness fixation.
“You have to ask yourself, ‘Does she like me as a person and approach me with care?’ In some circles, male baldness is seen as cool and a little avant-garde, and you’d want to know if your lover’s interest was personally erotic or image-based; a man might wonder ‘Would you still want to make love with me if my hair grew back?’ The idea that any erotic connection with anyone — however intense — can last over time without real relating is a rarely achieved fantasy. If you have felt insecure over your baldness, a partner getting rapturous over it could temporarily be a reparative high, but it does not a relationship make.”
Dreyfus herself is the partner of a 61-year-old man who developed alopecia Universalis in his 20s, at the time devastating to him. She believes in her own case that there is a semiconscious draw to baldness. “At the risk of sounding like a shrink,” she laughs, “my father started losing his hair in his 20s and my husband of 20 years was mostly bald when I met him. I met my current partner online a few years ago, and while I was drawn to the baldness in his photo, no eyebrows, eyelashes, or pubic hair was an acquired taste.”
Dreyfus says she appreciates the smoothness of no bodily hair and the emotional feeling of greater transparency and deeper contact. “Studies have shown that the one quality that most women prize most in men is presence — a feeling of “there-ness” — and when you think of the sense you can get that a man is somehow hiding under a beard, mustache or excessive hair on the head, you can appreciate why many women find bald men sexy.”
Freud asked the question, “What do women want?” Dreyfus believes that the answer is simply “to be let in.” “A man with no hair, particularly one who has gotten that way against his own choosing, has had to battle a small demon, become more visible and self-accepting, and hopefully has become more real and less defended in the process,” Dreyfus says. “This is a man who is hiding less, and the woman he lets in will treasure him for it.”
Men who find themselves the object of a bald fixation would probably find the situation flattering — for a while. But going in for the long haul requires a partner who looks beneath the skin on your head to the person inside.