We need to talk about body hair. It is undoubtedly natural, we all have it, and yet, for some reason, it continues to be – for want of a better term – a thoroughly hairy issue.
Society seems to be stuck in an endless loop of lusting after body hair one minute, and loathing it the next. One week men are expected to be as hairless as they were the morning of their 18th birthday, and suddenly the vogue switches, and you’re pressured into looking as if you haven’t reached for the razor in years.
And these are just the opinions of the public sphere. At home, with your significant other, there is a whole other set of ever-shifting expectations if you want to keep things amicable in the intimacy department.
So allow me to apologise on behalf of women everywhere, for we make the matter more confusing than it ever should have been. In a constant state of flux, not long ago it was fashionable for stars of the silver screen to appear not too unlike a fully-grown bear, with women of decades past completely enamoured with furry fellows such as Sean Connery, Tom Selleck and Pierce Brosnan.
But, more recently, men who are considered heartthrobs are noticeably – and often gleamingly – bare-chested. Whether it be David Gandy’s smooth and deeply tanned abs, the six undeniable stars of Dolce & Gabbana’s ubiquitous Light Blue perfume advertisement, or the swaggering scene in which Daniel Craig’s James Bond emerged chest-rug free from the ocean in Casino Royale, the media, in all its forms, pretty much confirmed that the female population found smooth skin sexy.
If hairy men did get a look in, it was only to eke another laugh out of the audience. Who can forget the notoriously cringeworthy waxing scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin.
So, where are we now with body hair?
With social opinion changing year on year, it’s a surprise men aren’t tearing their hair out trying to gauge the perfect level of grooming – although some, of course, are.
Instead, the prevailing trend of the moment appears to be manscaping – yet another ambiguous way to cater to women’s desires. Bharat Parmar, the owner of Genco Grooming Salons, told Gentleman’s Journal that single men under 30 are increasingly aware of their body hair as many of them are still on the market for prospective partners.
Parmar also revealed that the idealised hairless physiques of porn stars have been steadily feeding into the male consciousness for years, convincing men that women want the same hairless hunks in reality. Georgia Toffi, a senior beauty therapist at Ministry of Wax, mentioned that many of the men who currently come in for hair-removal treatments attend at the demands of a girlfriend or wife.
Should a gentleman be removing all of his body hair?
After speaking with hair-removal experts, it also became clear that men are resorting to increasingly more drastic ways to rid themselves of their rugs, with waxing, expensive laser treatments and other mildly tortuous procedures on the rise. However, the experts also revealed that what women want may not factor as heavily into men’s grooming decisions as we may think.
Georgia Toffi cited personal hygiene and sports training as typical motivations, and Parmar also mentioned that more men have been going for bald because of their increased attention towards fitness and health.
After spending countless sweaty hours in the gym doing crunches and sit ups, it seems that the modern man wants to show off his work and, if that means pulling back the shaggy curtain with a razor, laser or boiling wax, then so be it.
Parmar also thinks that, whilst a furry chest was once regarded the epitome of manliness, in these times of gym-going dedication and hard-honed physiques, that letting your body hair grow out might simply be seen as “undisciplined”.
So, whether you’re sporting a few unsightly hairs or a full blown hide, there is no right and wrong anymore. There are women amongst us who still swoon at the hirsute, Burt Reynolds-esque man, but also those who abhor hair, and are draconian enough to send their significant others off to salons to get it dealt with.
There has been a turn in the grooming road, gentlemen, where the modern man is simply doing what he thinks suits him best. So, even if you are brandishing a razor or enduring wax strips for the benefit of your love life, its probably pointless anyway – a new hair trend is most likely just around the corner.