Over the past few days, a number of people have asked me why I got a tonsure. For those of you who are curious about my life choices or thinking about getting the cut yourselves, I’ve drawn up a non-comprehensive list of reasons why someone might want to get a tonsure.
1. Because it will bring joy to the people in your life.
It’s worthwhile to remember that your tonsure isn’t just for you. Think about the people that cut your hair. Think about the people —strangers, friends, classmates, and teachers — that see you and your hair every day. Your tonsure has the power to evoke excitement, amusement, and curiosity in anyone you interact with. Have the courage to open yourself up to those connections and allow yourself to be a source of joy for the people in your life.
2. Because of its symbolic and artistic potential.
The tonsure, as a hair style, is imbued with a number of symbolic meanings. Some people emphasize its resemblance to a crown or halo in shape, linking it to certain spiritual themes, while others view it as implying some kind of asceticism. It can also be understood as a study of negative space, with the absence of hair gaining primacy over the hair itself. And of course, the space created by the absence of hair could potentially become the physical basis for permanent or impermanent body art, making a tonsure a versatile style with numerous symbolic resonances.
3. Because it will bring you closer to God.
Most commonly associated with Catholic monks, the practice of tonsure has appeared in various forms in numerous religions. Beyond its specific symbolic connotations, a tonsure can serve to show commitment, whether to a religious lifestyle or to a particular secular one, or to signal a group of people’s devotion to a shared calling. In addition, changes to the body are a great starting point for spiritual contemplation and exploration of deeper questions about yourself.
4. Because it will allow you to empathize more deeply with the people of the past.
Many people may label the tonsure as “outdated.” However, the hidden truth of that label is that partaking in the experiences of those who went before us can be enjoyable and eye-opening. None of us can be medieval monks, but all of us can share this part of their life with them, with the tonsure serving as a bridge across times and cultures.
5. Because it will reduce the time and money you spend on your hair.
A tonsure is easy to take care of and dries within minutes when wet. Getting one is a simple way to reduce the resources you devote to haircare without sacrificing hair length or style on the rest of your head.
6. Because it’s alternative.
The tonsure is a timeless cut that stands outside the endless cycle of popularization and commodification. If you find the pressure to conform to all of the aesthetics and trends that define modern fashion exhausting, then the tonsure is the haircut for you. If you find the pressure to avoid conforming exhausting, then the tonsure is the haircut for you. If you want to escape the endless war between culture and counterculture, then the tonsure is the haircut for you.
7. Because it’s a radical expression of queer masculinity.
The tonsure is an undeniably masculine cut, but there’s also something uncannily non-normative about the masculinity it represents. It could fit right into a campy comedy, but is unimaginable in any mass market action film. A tonsure expresses a masculinity that undermines traditional standards of attractiveness and defies expectations of male machismo and toxicity. Whatever your gender is, you can challenge gender expectations with a tonsure.
8. Because it will open you to a world of new experiences.
You may think that you understand how a tonsure would change ordinary experiences like putting a shirt on, walking around in the rain, or having someone touch the top of your head. You don’t know what you’re missing.
9. Because it will shock and horrify the people in your life.
If you aren’t satisfied with making the people in your life feel positive emotions, be assured that you also have the potential to make them feel emotions like confusion, anger, and fear. Sometimes, people need to feel negative emotions; sometimes they need to experience things that force them to reassess their perception of the world and the people in their lives. That’s the power of a tonsure.
10. Because you can.
Are you going to let people tell you that you can’t get a tonsure? Are you really going to live that way?