A Zen Approach to Going Bald (& Your Impending Doom)

A Zen Approach to Going Bald (& Your Impending Doom)

Posted by Stanley Goodspeed on



Golfer: How do you know that prayers don't work?

Larry David: Because I’m bald.

                             - Curb Your Enthusiasm



The world is going bald. Yes, that means you. Don’t believe us? Ok, let’s crunch the numbers. The American Hair Loss Association estimates that:


  • 25% of men who have male pattern baldness start losing their hair before the age of 21.
  • By age 35, 66% percent of men will have experienced some degree of hair loss.
  • By age 50, 85% percent of men will have significantly thinner hair.


As Agent Smith says in The Matrix, “that is the sound of inevitability...”


The main problem with baldness is that, well, there are no positives. None. “I may be losing my hair but at least ___.” See? Nothing. The negative effects, however, are well-known: lower perceived attractiveness, less self-esteem, higher sunscreen usage. There is also Hair Loss Distress, a psychological condition that includes “the feeling of looking old and unattractive and the fear of social rejection”. Social rejection? My God, where does this end!?


It ends today, friends. After years of traveling and studying ancient texts, we sought guidance from the most legendary group of bald men on the planet: the Zen Buddhist Monks. We distilled their teachings into four lessons in order to turn tragedy into triumph, negative into positive, and limit the mental toll of this terrible, horrible condition (dare we call it the real pandemic?). Let’s jam.




Kensho is a Japanese Zen term translated as “seeing one’s true nature,” and is described as an initial insight or awakening – a “flash” or “pop” of deep understanding. Recognizing a Kensho moment is critical. Otherwise, you will deny your baldness and “denial can be an ugly thinggg” (Ace Ventura 2).


Denial leads to negative outcomes, such as 'the combover.' What about hair transplants? These procedures don’t stop hair loss, so you're committing to more surgery and more money in the future. What about prescription or over the counter medicine? If you're cool with the side effects, then good luck bro!


But if we simply open our eyes to what's around us – a gust of wind revealing a receding hairline, a bad haircut, your friends constantly ripping on you – we can avoid these trappings. Acceptance allows us to move forward in our Spiritual Balding Journey (SBJ) and live freely. As Lao Tzu says, “when you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” Righteous.






Zen Buddhism promotes balance and harmony in all things. Balance between faith and wisdom, effort and concentration, and most importantly, hair.  


So if you decide to shave your head, grow a beard or leave some stubble. Facial hair provides balance to your bare head, which otherwise will appear too smooth (*Note: this lesson mostly applies to fair-skinned dudes. For example, the late-great Kobe Bryant. Completely shaven, still a handsome guy).


When combined with a light complexion, the bald face-head-combo can be absolutely devasting. This is especially true outdoors, where you'll become a beacon of reflective light like Milla Jovavich’s character at the end of The Fifth Element. Indoors, you'll look like a worm.



Let's also not forget Lex Luthor, Baron Von Harkonnen in Dune, and Dr. Evil. All completely hairless and made to look…you guessed it…EVIL. Mr. Clean is the only person to have pulled off this look but unfortunately he is fictional. And a cartoon. He IS jacked, though, and we knew an NCO from Ranger Regiment that also wore this look and wore it well. So there is nuance. Great guy. RLTW. 


In keeping with this idea of balance, don't grow a massive beard with a bald head, either. There are only four exceptions to this rule and they apply to the following people: members of a motorcycle gang, semi-professional arm-wrestlers, henchmen in the John Wick franchise, and NFL coach Lovie Smith.


Balance. Harmony. This is the Zen tradition. This is the way.




Walk into any Buddhist monastery or dojo and you'll see the same thing: extreme minimalism. The monks believe that suffering should not be defined by the things we do not possess, as true happiness is not derived from material possessions. For this same reason, they instruct us to keep our hairstyles short when faced with balding or thinning hair.


Why, exactly? Short hair minimizes the appearance of thinning/balding and also gives your hair some lift which makes it look like you have more hair. Long hair does the opposite. Bernie Madoff (RIP) rocked the long-hair-bald style and we all know how that ended up. To be fair, that guy had massive balls to do what he did, so he wasn't lacking confidence.


A bald-denier (Bernie, left) being arrested by bald guys (right). Karmic justice. 




Sangha is a Sanskrit word meaning "assembly" or "collection," but also represents the entire Buddhist community. It's a beautiful thing. People coming together from all over the world through a shared belief system. 


And we can apply Sangha to the bald community. We don't have to live in shame, or isolation, longing for the hair we don't have. Shared adversity and values should bring us together! It's insane that Jeep Wrangler drivers acknowledge each other on the road, but bald men don't fist bump or head nod as they pass each other on the street.


Be on the lookout for your bald brothers. Build a tribe. The best art comes from hardship and oppression. Bald paintings in the Louvre. Bald music. Bald movies.




We hope you found these lessons helpful. We don't know much about Zen Buddhism, but we know plenty about being bald. And we made nine different movie references in this article, which is dope.




Newer Post →

Parade Rest

Two Dopes Two Nopes (No. 2)
music parenting style

Two Dopes Two Nopes (No. 2)

By Stanley Goodspeed

    Welcome to “Two Dopes Two Nopes,” where we highlight cool things (things that are dope) and not-so-cool things (nope) across style, culture, and art....

Read more
Two Dopes Two Nopes (No. 1)
fitness mental health Summer Style

Two Dopes Two Nopes (No. 1)

By Stanley Goodspeed

  Welcome to “Two Dopes Two Nopes,” where we highlight the cool things (things that are dope) and the not-so-cool things (nope) across style, culture,...

Read more