Tonsurephobia is the fear of getting a haircut. The word Tonsurephobia is derived from Greek words ‘Tonsure’ meaning ‘ to cut’ and ‘Phobos’ meaning ‘deep dread or aversion’.
While the majority of us love going to a salon to get our hair styled and trimmed, there are some people who absolutely detest the idea of getting a haircut. Children in particular are known to develop an anxiety or phobia about getting their hair trimmed thanks mainly due to a bad experience they might have had during their first haircut. Thus, Tonsurephobia is a very real and honest phobia and one needs to be understanding about it particularly in case of children. That being said, it is also important to help the child overcome it as early as possible, otherwise the phobia could continue well into adulthood impacting one’s confidence, self esteem as well as appearance.
Let us study Tonsurephobia in detail.
Causes of Tonsurephobia
As stated before, children are usually more likely to develop this phobia. The reasons could be numerous- negative traumatic experience in the past, injury or illness or simply having to sit still while a ‘brute of a hairdresser’ trims or chops one’s hair off- this can create lasting negative memories in the child’s mind. Its mind then recreates that situation along with a flight or fight response at the mere idea or thought of getting a haircut. Some people continue experiencing the phobia well into adulthood, while most kids overcome it with age.
In general, certain deficiencies, pre-existing anxiety disorders or other social or specific phobias such as Agoraphobia, etc could also lead to Tonsurephobia. In many cases, a far more serious underlying issue might be at the bottom of the phobia; hence it is essential to get it treated as soon as possible.
The idea of sharp blades coming very close to one’s head or ears etc can lead to this type of phobia. For others, it could be the fear of ridicule, teasing or bullying at school due to the “new look” that can permanently lead to fear of getting haircuts.
Symptoms of fear of haircuts phobia
The symptoms of Tonsurephobia can be categorized into mental, physical or emotional varieties.
- Crying, shaking, trembling or screaming at the thought or idea of a haircut. What starts as mere anxiety develops into a full blown panic attack. A child might refuse to sit still or might have to be pinned down or physically restrained at the time of getting a haircut.
- Some boys tend to keep their hair very long just to avoid going to a salon for getting a haircut. This makes them become objects of ridicule, or even teased or being called a girl. This however, does not stop them and they still adamantly refuse to get their hair cut.
- Women having Tonsurephobia go to extent of shaving off all their hair just to avoid getting frequent haircuts. Others might continue dealing with long split-end-filled tresses due to this phobia.
- Mental or emotional symptoms of Tonsurephobia include “seeing stills of death or dying”, or experiencing constant thoughts of being injured when the hairdresser trims their hair with razors or sharp scissors.
- In some severe cases, the phobia could disrupt one’s relationships or even significantly impact normal functioning at home, school or work.
Treating fear of getting a haircut
In case of children with Tonsurephobia, parents can take the following steps to help the child overcome its fear:
- Comb the child’s hair softly at home, several times a day.
- Let it get familiar with the feel of having water sprayed on their hair/faces.
- Reassure the child. Talk it through the steps of getting a haircut. Tell him/her why one should get a haircut regularly.
- Go online and show it photographs of children getting haircuts.
- Talk about tools and gadgets the hairdresser might use, including hair dryers, trimmer, etc.
- You could take your child to your nearest salon a couple of times just to play and interact with the hairdressers. This can help one get friendly with them, so they feel more comfortable when it is actually time to get their hair cut.
- It is vital that, as parents, you remain calm. If you start showing signs of distress or get angry that the child is not cooperating, then it will only make matters worse. It will further trigger a temper tantrum or panic attack in the child.
- It is important that you understand your child’s fear is absolutely normal. Take small steps and build confidence in it. Do not hesitate to reward the child when you see signs of progress.
- Seek a good hairdresser who knows about this phobia and can patiently deal with it. It will help if the salon you select has a kid-friendly environment and hairdressers that don’t judge the child. These tips will help your child overcome its Tonsurephobia slowly and gradually.
For adults suffering from the fear of getting a haircut, there are many therapies available to treat it. The most effective one is cognitive behavior therapy that helps the person change the way s/he thinks about the fear. Another effective way of overcoming Tonsurephobia is to gradually desensitize oneself by looking at/handling tools used by the hairdresser. One can familiarize oneself with razors, trimmers, scissors etc and even watch people getting haircuts. The final step is to actually get a haircut without giving in to the panic one experiences. These are some important ways of overcoming the fear of getting a haircut phobia.
I am commenting here in hope’s that my situation can help someone else not feel all alone in this!
Last week I had a horrible experience at the hair salon. My first comment to my hairdresser was this is the hair style I like and showed her a photo. Do you think you can do it? If you can’t that’s OK, we don’t need to cut my hair today, we can just color it. She said yes she can do the style. She colored my hair then proceeded to cut my hair. Things go worse from there. I became so anxious, trying to express my anxiety to my stylist that I have been seeing for years. Evidently she took it personally, and so did the salon owner. The next day the owner of that salon called me up to chew me up and spit me out. It ruined my day and the days to follow. It disturbed me so much that I may have hurt my hairdresser’s feelings. I need answers as to why I get like this every single time I need a trim or hair cut. So desperately seeking understanding. I found out that I have a phobia called Tonsurephobia. I quickly texted my hairdresser asking if we could talk over the phone, but she said she would call me once she returned to work in a few days. I was hoping to have a private conversation and I knew if she was back at work she would be negatively influenced by her boss not to even hear me out, so I decided to explain my findings to her in a text. This was my text:
Xxxxxx, I sincerely apologize for my anxiety and behavior the other day.
I apologize for my lengthy message but it is needed to give insight. Please bear with me as I share. I don’t know if you are familiar with the phobia called Tonsurephobia? But apparently I have that phobia. I had no idea what I suffered from had a name, but apparently it does, and it’s a real condition, and I have it. It is a real fear of getting hair cuts. So I am hoping you can have mercy on me for my very true anxiety. My anxiety was not personally directed at you, but it sure can seem personal if you are not aware of what it is. You were the recipient of what my condition brought on and I am so sorry for any harm I may have inflicted on you as a result of my anxiety. I am realizing you may not have known about this condition, because I never knew about it either, but it makes sense to me now. It’s no surprise to either of us that every single time I was scheduled for a haircut with you this behavior manifested itself. I am not trying to excuse my behavior, I’m just trying to explain it and understand it myself. I feel as though you may not understand what I am going through, therefore I do understand if you choose not to continue as my hairdresser. Xxxx called me up on Saturday stating that going forward I would need to schedule color and cuts at different appointment days due to how long our appointment went Friday, then she proceeded to chew me up and spit me out. It was very painful, given I felt so vulnerable and overwhelmed at my appointment in the chair on Friday, but I was able to resolve that my allegiance was to you. I am explaining what my findings were and why I am so emotional during haircuts, because I felt like we had become friends, so it’s your call. If you are willing to move forward with me as your client, and help me with my issue, I would so appreciate that. But if you are not willing to, it will be painful for me, but I would understand and respect your decision. The only thing that I would ask is that you please forward me the Wella formula for my hair color, glaze color and brow color so I can try to find other services. Again I am so sorry for what happened, hoping we can move past it, if you are willing. I actually love you dearly X×××××, and I respect you so much, you are an excellent hairdresser. What I am dealing with has no bearing on your ability, it’s all me. Thank you for your time, Donna. Tonsurephobia, look it up for yourself.
Donna, I have this exact phobia too! I had no idea there was even a name for it! If you would like to chat sometime, or just text, please feel free to. I understand this entirely.
I have a kind of Tonsurephobia in which I can get a haircut (I get really anxious) but only a trim, a small one. But I dream and really want so bad to cut my hair shorter, in a bob, but I just can’t, I’m so afraid. I even told my husband about the idea and he said: I’m afraid you’ll look bad. So it got worse. Because my fear is exactly that: that I will look worse. I think of myself as a really ugly girl and mostly it started because I had bad haircuts as a girl (people bullied me) and because I was a chubby girl, so I developed an eating disorder which I still have.
Previously I couldn’t even get trims, I was so afraid. This got better just when I found a hairdresser who actually trims hair like 1mm at a time.
I’m just so afraid of just going to a salon and asking for anything because my hair is the only thing I like about myself, even though I dream about having a chin length bob. That’s something I would love to do before I die.
I had a fear of cutting my hair. I did once as a child and the boys in my fourth grade class called me a boy the first day of school. I grew my hair back in the fifth grade and hadn’t cut my hair since then up until last week. I was tired of being afraid to look ugly when I look in the mirror. I was tired of being afraid men would think I’m unattractive. I was tired of living with fears and insecurities. After I cut my hair off I didn’t regret it. I did it myself because I wanted to be the one to do it and it felt like I cut off a weak part of myself. I still haven’t shown my friends or gone out in public. I probably need to go to a barber to have it cut properly. I also need to work the courage to do so in public but baby steps :) I strongly support you face your fear and if your partner doesn’t think you’re attractive because of a hairstyle then cut him off too.
I also suggest you invest and do research in a good hairstylists in your area there’s so many Bob styles to suite every face structure. It’s great to know the shape of your face, it makes it easier to choose what hair cuts to go for as long as lengths! For example perhaps your face is more suited with an 12 inch cut over 8 inch, both are still considered bobs. It’s also good to have your hair done by a professional even if it’s a bit pricey, they know what they are doing.
Rachael George says
The stress I get from a slight trim is so bad and my anxiety lasts till that hair grows out again. You are not alone.
brittney martin says
My mom cut so much of my hair it gave me social anxiety, the when my aunt cut my hair she cut the middle a lot shorter than the rest. I hate getting haircuts. I know hate is a strong word but it’s true. I don’t want to go to the salon because it reminds me that it came off a persons head, that’s what scares me the most. When i get in the shower and see hair it’s fine but even the thought of stepping in the salon scares me and also my mom had her hair cut real short at a salon when she just asked for a trim.
I had a bad haircutting experience when I was 21, and since then my fear has grown worse and worse.
It’s been 9 1/2 years since my last professional haircut. In the last few months my husband is pressuring me to get it cut. He’s getting work mates and family members to tell me to get a haircut too. He’s also said he wont get a haircut unless I get one too.
I rung up a hairdresser to talk about an appointment, but they went and booked me in for next week, and I got all panicky. Managed not to break down on the phone, but am freaking out about it at the moment.
I know I need to try again, and I hate how my hair looks, but I am upset at the thought of getting a cut.
I need some sort of coping mechanism.
I’m 33. I’ve had my hair cut maybe 3-5 times over the last several years. It was an event in my life each time. I wish I was friends with a hairdresser.
It’s been over two years now, my hair is to the middle of my back, I wear it in a bun or ponytail.
I don’t think I’ll ever have it cut, unless I meet someone I trust. I just feel so panicked when someone starts trying to cut my hair … I’m a weirdo lol.
I just feel so terrified to let someone cut my hair!
I totally agree. I love my hair stylist, who does a great job on my color, and when I LET her trim it, she does a good job. I just hate that sometimes it’s too short and I have to look like a toad until it grows out a little again. I have an appointment scheduled for Thursday afternoon and I’m terrified. It’s June, 2019 – the last cut I had was in September of 2017!
I feel that way too. I’m literally afraid of going into the salon. The longest period I’ve gone without having a haircut is probably around 2 and a half years. I had a bad experience at a salon recently where they messed my hairstyle up and had to redo it. See, the thought of somebody other than my parents or my family touching my hair and chopping it off freaks me out. I wish there were some way to get my haircut without scissors or something. Anyway, I’ve had several meltdowns when my parents have taken me in for a haircut. I’ve wanted to get my hair cut for a while now, but I don’t have the courage to. I am non-binary, although assigned female at birth, and I want to get a hairstyle, so I don’t look like a boy or a girl. I don’t know how to get over my fear without therapy because I’ve already done therapy once, and it was disastrous. I hated it. What should I do?
I am 22 when I was about 5 or 6 my moms neighbor cut my hair and she cut my ear. Ever since I screamed and cried and had a panic attack. Now I just won’t get a haircut. I keep my hair in a man bun and get tons of complements. But watching people shave their heads is fun! As long as it’s not me. I also have shaved my friends heads. But I refuse to cut my hair I have been about 11-14 years without a haircut.
This is weird i had a barber get my ear caught in the electric shaver so its kind of a similar experience.
I am not really scared of getting a haircut.
I just do not like going to barbershops mainly because of drama, pressure to talk (even though I am shy and quiet), and foolishness.
In fact, I did have some negative experiences at some barbershops. That is why I stop going to them. But, I have found one barbershop I like. It is close to a movie theater and a Italian restaurant. I am going there today so that I can get a haircut. I want to look and feel better for a woman I talk on Skype every month.
Tonsurephobia is a serious fear because it can cause some people to not ever go to barbershops again and therefore have messy hair.
I do not have a choice when it comes to my hair. If I want to look and feel nicer, I have to go to a barbershop. But, if I want to stay in my comfort zone, then I would continue to look and feel like crap.
Yesterday I had a haircut that lead me looking exactly like my friends and it was so short that you needed to use a picture to identify who I was, they should let children have their dream hair and free will to choose.
Thanks I have this phobia but I’m not sure because it’s a little different. I used to have this phobia just as described but now it’s like I like having my haircut and I actually dream and want to get a shorter cut, but I’m afraid I would look bad. My hair is long (around my waist) and I dream to get a chin length cut but I’m just too afraid. I think about this all the time, all day several times per day. Does this mean I have this phobia?
This is my situation. I don’t mind the idea of getting a haircut. But I’m scared of what it’ll look like if I get one. Hence why I haven’t got a haircut in a year.
I have this phobia exactly like you. Just as you described it! Sometimes I even dream about it.
I had a disastrous tonsure phobia since I was a little child. Because every time I had haircut, they never told me that you are going to have a haircut or they did it as a result of my maybe bad behavior. I cried and screamed until my voice was gone. Till I get 30, for 22years, I didn’t allow my hair shorter than elbow. But last year my husband encouraged me several times to cut it short. It took a year. He showed me celebrities with bobbed hair. He told me it will look good on you, it will let your hair grow better, you won’t waste your time washing and drying it, you will hardly see hairfall and etc. So I started to watch youtube videos of girls having shocking haircuts. I saved so many pics of short cut models. One day I reserved a time to cut my waist length hair into a neck length bob. Surely I dreaded and hesitated when I was waiting for my turn in the salon. I shaked a little but I told myself that you are very close to the chair and it means half of the job is done. I should confess that I was excited too. When the hairdresser called me to sit, I got puzzled for a while, ow! What am I doing, can I tolerate that? But it was no way to change my idea. I stepped to the chair and sat. She tied the apron around my neck and started to comb. Now I was calmer. She did some sections and sprayed water. She started from the back neck and bended my head so I couldn’t see my face in the mirror. I got nervous two times; the first time: when I was hearing the first shot of scissors’ blades around my neck, she did it well, combed and cut regularly. There was no appearing change till she finished it and started to cut under my jaws. That was my second anxiety. I could see how horrible my long hair fell off one after another. Finally, my hair around neck and chin was shaped and I couldn’t believe it’s me doing a great job.
I’m afraid of getting a haircut but for me the reason is that the first time I’ve ever been to a salon was at 14 (I’m 15 now) and that I also have social anxiety. I’m actually more afraid of having to talk to the hairdresser and having to explain something or them not understanding what I want and also that I cannot escape that situation than of the haircut itself.
I actually don’t fear cutting my hair but I have this fear of changing my hairstyle. Since I was a kid, I would prefer keeping my hair long, but when I grew up I ended up hating it, so I always keep my hair tied up. I still remember how I get anxiety whenever I have to let my hair down in front of people. I can’t help myself from shaking and get anxious whenever I have to face them. Since I was 11 up to now that I am 17, I haven’t let my hair untied in public except for important occasions. My friends always advice me to change my way but I was just so afraid and I don’t know why.
I want to change myself but I’m afraid of the outcome so I cant really move on. Please I need advice about this.
Nabranes TwistyPuzzler says
Maybe just cut it shorter within long hair and donate it.
Maucham Talukdar says
I am a boy. I also have long hair. But I don’t want to cut it. One day in a saloon the boy cut my hair badly. This is the first time I was crying because of my haircut. Since then I don’t have any haircut. Now, I think that I have a form of Tonsurephobia..
jane eyre says
I think I have a form of tonsure-phobia. I have just lost my position on an extras agency because I complained and threatened to sue the lady that cut my grown up son`s hair badly.
I have always had a fear of hairdressers or any body cutting my hair. You see as a small child I had a haircut like my twin brothers and everyone thought we were triplets. My Mum used to cut my fringe until it was a ridiculous stump at the front of my head. I wanted to wear a bog on my head for weeks. I eventually was able to grow the back so that I could wear a ponytail. My Mun said it was straggly and needed a trim she promised me it would look thicker and grow better. She grabbed my hair at the back in one hand full She chopped above the hand and about six or seven inches was detached. I cried for days and months later a bald patch appeared at the side of my head. I told the doctor my Mum cut it off but it never grew back to this day 48 years later.
I remember the shock and stomach churning feeling I felt in the 1970`s when a young girl with a skin head walked past me. How could she bear that ???
When I see those war films where women in concentration camps are getting their heads shaved, I go cold and hot and could literately puke.
When I die I won`t be cremated because it will ruin my hair. Is that crazy or what.
My son works in TV and film and period drama`s need people to have haircuts to suit the period.
Sometimes they do an OK job of it but twice now they have gone crazy with the clippers and made him look ridiculous, this time there is a . one and a half gap in his back hairline. I went bonkers. The first time they cut it so short he warned me by phone and I sat in the bathroom for half an hour after he got back, I couldn`t look at him.
I don`t think I need help I just want all bad hairdressers to be struck off or something.
I get complete panic attacks. I just got my hair “cut” 2 weeks ago.. I hate it.. I was so afraid of him cutting it too short, he pretty much didn’t do much. My problem is (like this time), I suggested cutting the back slightly different. So now, I work myself into a tizzy to go back & have my regular girl actually cut some off and fix it. I used to have bangs but on a dare I let them grow to my chin. In all honesty.. i think i look older than my 52 years. But again, I’ve taken something that should make someone feel good about themselves into total anxiety. I’ve been on Wellbutrin for about 2 years, i really thought i was over this.
Now I know!!