Elizabeth Broadbent

Why are We So Weird About Man Hair?

Posted on November 16, 2017

Why Are We So Weird About Man Hair?

I have a friend who once got a date with a girl he was really head-over-heels with. The friend was tall, funny, smart, and good looking. But one enormous thing stood in his way. “What if she finds out about my back hair?” he said to his broFF. They both agreed that this would kill the entire relationship before it began because, since puberty, my friend had rocked a pelt more reminiscent of a gorilla than a human. “You have to shave me,” he pled.

So they spread the floor of their nasty boy bathroom with trash bags. My friend stood atop them and took his shirt off. His broFF wrapped his hand and arm in another trash bag, lest a stray hair touch him, and went to town with a beard trimmer. He shaved the shit out of my friend. Who went on a date, who never got the girl anyway, and had to suffer through the itching, acne, and misery of everything growing back in.

If a woman did this, we’d call it self-loathing. But in a man? We say thank little baby Buddha we don’t have to see him shirtless at the beach. Because if we think female body hair is nasty, we’re downright grossed out by the male version. And while we might point out lady armpit hair in whispers, it’s perfectly acceptable to squeal, in a voice from straight from the beginning of L.L. Cool J’s “I Like Big Butts,” “Oh my God, Becky, look at his back hair!”

Not that there isn’t plenty of pressure for us to shave and pluck, trim and depilate. According to Alternet, over the course of our lifetimes, women will spend more than ten thousand dollars and two entire months of their lives removing unwanted body hair. But there’s a body positivity movement out there arguing women should make their own body hair choices. If we want to resemble dirty hippies, require spray-on deodorant, and rock our crotches like a 70s porn star, well, the world can STFU, because this is Woman in Her Natural State. We all know That Girl Who Doesn’t Shave Her Pits, and it’s mostly a mild eccentricity. Hairy legs, especially if the hair is pale, might merit a second glance, a giggle if the hair’s super dark and super thick. Unibrows have mostly come back in style. Taryn Brumfitt body pos doc Embrace even features a woman with a beard.

But men? If we hate women’s body hair, we absolutely loathe man fur. Think about the horrible waxing scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. As The New York Daily News quotes GQ as saying way back in the brave old days of 2013, “Back hair is never sexy.” Apparently, the article says, more and more men are waxing their backs, “especially during the summer when men are wearing tank tops and showing off at the beach.”

But it’s not only back hair. We might mouth platitudes about liking chest hair, but when it comes to our movie heartthrobs, we want them manscaped like a rich dude’s lawn. The Daily Mail reports that researchers found a whopping 80% of women prefer a hairless chest. At least we hate pubic hair alike; according to Buzzfeed, 74% of men had shaved at least some of the hair down there in the past month - but so had 76% of women. Basically, no one likes a porn forest in your crotch. Shockingly, almost half of all the men had gone pubeless in the past month. As had 82% of women, but hey - we all know the pressure to have a perfect porn star hoo-ha. And if those women had decided not to shave, a bunch of other ladies would have shouted down anyone who dare questions her right to bush actualization. The men? Not so much.

We’ve come around on beards, somewhat. An essay in Psychology Today reports that while women prefer stubble, we find beards masculine, dominant, and powerful - and we think they make men look like good parents. We don’t necessarily want to bang beards, but we want them to father our children. However, according to a study funded by Tinder and Gillette, women prefer men without beards. The clean-shaven were 37% more likely to find a partner using the popular dating app. College students shown before-and-after shaving pics preferred the shaved ones by an incredible 91%. Basically, shave it off or live sad and alone until someone gets the urge to procreate. We don’t just hate men’s body hair, we hate the most obvious over-the-clothes marker of their masculinity.

Photo by Christoffer Engstrom

Photo by Christoffer Engstrom

We ladies loath back hair. We cringe at shoulder hair peeking from tank tops. We itch to wax our man’s chest. When it comes to beards, we’re a little conflicted, but mostly, we want some sexy stubble or shave it, bitch. If we decided to live with the hair God gave us, plenty of other ladies would rally around our right to rock some body hair, contemporary beauty standards be damned. Men? Well, they’ve basically got to either wax all the things or ignore standard grooming practices. Because we might hate women’s body hair, but we loath man pelt.