To baldly go: A beginner’s guide to acomophilia
“Hello, I am a genuine single guy who just loves the look and have always wanted to date a bald lady – bald by choice or not. This is not a fetish or a flash in the pan. I am a forty something” (Alan, UK)
According to various online articles, acomophilia is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from bald people or with the shaved head and/or shaved genitals. Dr. Anil Aggrawal (in his book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices) made a passing reference to being ‘acomoclitic’ but this only refers to being sexually aroused by hairless genitals. Dr. Brenda Love – in her Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices – also briefly mentions ‘acomoclitic’ in her entry on sexual ‘depiliation’ (but again this only related to hairless genitals (rather than bald or shaved heads). In one (unscientific) survey asking a self-selected sample what their favourite fetish was, acomophilia accounted for 2.08% of all respondents (although the actual number of respondents was not reported) so it’s hard to evaluate how representative the findings were.
An online essay by Craig Butler examined the erotic potential of baldness (The ‘B’ Spot: An Examination of Erotic Fixations on Bald Men). He began with some quotes from a number of women:
- “There’s nothing that really sends me into orbit like my man’s bald head”
- “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”
- “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”
Assuming these are real quotes from real women (and I’ve no evidence that they are not), they appear to indicate that the focus of sexual attraction can be a bald head (in and of itself). It’s worth pointing out that to be classed as a paraphilia or fetish, the baldness is the prime source of the sexual pleasure and arousal (rather than being part of the overall look and/or general attractiveness of the person). In short, true acomophiles would have an erotic fixation on baldness and/or hairlessness. Butler interviewed psychologist Dr. Nancy Dreyfus for her thoughts on acomophilia. She said:
“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…Acomophilia is the formal word for a baldness fetish, although it is usually used in reference to a fetish related to bald women”.
Butler also interviewed Isadora Alman, a marriage and family therapist (who has also written for Psychology Today magazine’s Sex & Sociology blog). She was reported as saying:
“People have all sorts of erotic preferences. Some, such as American men and breasts, are cultural, and some, such as small high breasts versus 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. One of my clients adored his partner’s bald head because he said it looked like a penis”.
Butler noted that while it’s perhaps flattering to be an object of intense erotic attraction, it could be off-putting for people who felt they were loved for their baldness and not themselves. In relation to this potential downside, Dr. Dreyfus commented that:
“If a man is a boob man, a woman wouldn’t reject him out of hand because he never tired of her breasts. 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 with a baldness fixation. You have to ask yourself, ‘Does she like me as 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”.
In her interview with Butler, Dreyfus admitted that she was in fact the partner of a 61-year-old man who has had alopecia universalis (i.e., no hair on his body at all) since his twenties. As a psychologist, she subsequently admitted that she may have been subconsciously drawn to her current partner because her (a) own father started going bald in his twenties, and (b) husband of two decades had lost most of his hair by the time they got together as a couple. She met her current partner online and was attracted to his baldness. However, she did comment that the fact he had “no eyebrows, eyelashes or pubic hair was an acquired taste”. She also claimed that:
“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. [Women want] 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 realer and less defended in the process. This is a man who is hiding less, and the woman he lets in will treasure him for it”.
I’m not aware of the studies she is referring to and much of what was said is speculative (to say the least). I know of no academic research on the topic of acomophilia, so any psychologist can speculate to their heart’s content.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Butler, C. (2011). The “B” Spot: An examination of erotic fixations on bald men. September 27, Located at: http://www.hairloss.com/home/hes-hot-and-has-hair-loss.html
Cougar, C. (2009). Acomophilia. April 16. Located at: http://www.christy1.dynamicmediadirect.com/index.php?option=com_myblog&show=Acomophilia.html&Itemid=89
Love, B. (2001). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. London: Greenwich Editions.