Sunday, 5 January 2014

The hair thing

It's a good thing men aren't expected to get rid of all their body hair. Some men have such jungles of the stuff it would be a Herculean labour to purge it all in favour of smooth, silky skin.

Not only that but all those men with beards and moustaches would be very reluctant to part with those cherished patches of hirsuteness (though why they cherish them so much is beyond me; for some reason beards and moustaches just make me want to laugh).

Luckily my own body hair is fairly sparse, so a sudden fashion for male depilation wouldn't be too much of a chore. But men are so proud of their corporeal undergrowth, even if it serves no purpose whatever, that I can't see a runaway desire to rip it all out any time soon.

A bit unfair though, isn't it, that men can leave all their body hair serenely intact while women are expected to remove every last trace of it (even the pubic shrubbery nowadays), with all the time and expense and nuisance that involves.

Some women go to absurd lengths to conceal those rampant thickets of body hair in places their menfolk* expect to be smooth as a baby's bottom. They dread the shock and revulsion their supposedly body-friendly bloke might suddenly display if they weren't scrupulously bald.

There's a sizeable minority of men, though, who do prefer to remove their body hair (sportsmen, gay men, models) and don't see anything odd about it. And there are quite a few women out there who like their men to be hair-free (although the men won't always oblige).

So who knows? Maybe one day men will be as preternaturally smooth-skinned as the opposite sex, and just as furtively slipping down to the beautician for an urgent waxing session.

*and womenfolk for that matter

23 comments:

Bijoux said...

I've never found it a big deal to shave as it literally takes me one minute a day.

Hair on men is more a matter of taste. I'm not particularly fond of hairy males, but to each her own. One thing I've always wondered is how men can put up with a big clump of underarm hair? The smell of perspiration must cling to it and I don't think I could handle it on my own body.

susie said...

Sigh. I was just pondering this since I might go swimming today.

Did you see the picture of Julia Roberts and her armpit years back? It was MAJOR NEWS. ;-)

Nick said...

Bijoux: If it only takes you one minute a day to deal with your body hair, you're very lucky!

My underarm hair never smells, but maybe I'm just fortunate?

Susie: Ah, swimming, the constant crisis for women everywhere! But maybe you're Bijoux-like and it's not such a big problem?

Yes, I saw all the Julia Roberts coverage. Of course the only reason it was such a sensation was the almost universal adherence to the shaved-armpit rule by other women.

Mike said...

I guess you can just laugh at me. I've had a beard most of the time since I was 20 and I haven't shaved my mustache since I got out of boot camp in 1972 -- before I met my wife the next month. For me, I guess it started out to be a way to be different in the regimented society of the US Navy. By the time I got out almost 9 years later, it was my "norm." Just like the hair on top of my head, though, if it gets too long, I have to trim it back, but I also don't have to deal with shaving on a daily basis.

The US Navy hasn't allowed beards since 1984.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Have you never heard of "man-scaping"? It's not confined to models and gay men. Lots of men today are shaving off portions of their body hair. A surprising percentage of men are shaving their testicles, and some younger guys all their pubic hair. Also, many men and women take an in-between position, with pubic hair cut short but not shaved.

But for women "having" to shave, I agree with Bijoux. I shave my legs and armpits (thats it) every day in the shower. It takes virtually no time and I love the silky way my skin feels.

Helen Devries said...

Infantilisation of women...and well internalised at that.

It reminds me of a recent article in 'The Guardian' about fashion where paying attention to one's appearance is said to be for the comfort of others....a sort of courtesy....

Nick said...

Mike: Sorry about that, I don't know why, but I just can't take beards and moustaches seriously! I did have a John Lennon-style beard at one time but I've been clean-shaven ever since.

Agent: Yes, I've heard the term! At the risk of providing too much information, I've shaved off my pubic hair a few times and rather like the effect. Blimey, did I actually say that?

You obviously don't have a major body-hair problem either. But I've known a fair number of women who do.

Nick said...

Helen: I think the jury's out on whether hairless women are being infantilised or just made prettier. As for the comfort of others, sucks to that! I think women's appearance is a matter for them and them alone. Over and above being presentable obviously.

Nick said...

Some women are not as lucky as you lot. It's estimated for instance that 6-8% of women remove excess facial hair every week. That figure is higher for older women.

Z said...

Well, each to their own with body hair, but I don't believe any woman wants a hairy face, whether moustache, mono-brow or stray whiskers.

Nick said...

Z: Oh, I'm not saying she does! I don't like hairy faces either. It's not much fun kissing a beard....

Cheerful Monk said...

You do come up with interesting posts!

Nick said...

Jean: Thank you, I do my best! And I see you're reserving the right not to discuss any details of your personal grooming arrangements....

Liz Hinds said...

I had a nasty shock today when getting ready for circuits: I realised I hadn't shaved my legs for a month. Still as one of my fellow exercisers said, 'I think we'll have more to worry about after weeks without exercise than your legs!'

Happy new year, Nick to you and Jenny.

Nick said...

Liz: Aaargh! Hairy legs or some extra pounds, which is the more embarrassing??

Happy New Year to you too, Liz!

Wisewebwoman said...

I've always had light body hair and would do the maintenance back in the day. Waxing horrifies me as I don't tolerate pain well and I've heard of some battle scars from Brazilians and the like. Yikes.
I find the whole hirsutey obsessive thing quite amusing.
(she says primly).
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: I'm never sure whether the fashion for pubic clearance is a case of pleasing the woman or pleasing her significant other. Either way it sounds pretty painful!

bonsaimum said...

Each to their own I say, but I must admit that really hairy men( you know, with thick back hair etc), are a real turn off. It would be like kissing a yeti. :)

Nick said...

Bonsaimum: He he! Yes, it must be a bit weird living with a seriously hairy bloke. Like living with a human rug....

cathymac2312 said...

My husband (who is quite hairy) had to be shaved all over his front to undergo open heart surgery a few years back. They kindly stopped at his knees, leaving him what looked like hairy socks...

Nick said...

cathymac: That must have looked very strange when you were used to him being hairy! Presumably he grew all the hair back again?

Rummuser said...

As a bearded but bald man, I find the whole issue comic. I have hair growing where I would rather it did not and disappear from where I would rather it did not. What should I do?

Nick said...

Ramana: Unless you fancy a wig and wax, I think philosophical acceptance is probably the name of the game.