Manscaping: The War On Hair

Alright, let me just get this out of the way: I’m a hairy man. As a young adolescent, I grew hair the same way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.

Actually, it was kind of like this:

I had facial hair by the time I was 12 and a full chest of hair by 13. I was mortified, but my peers in the locker room seemed almost envious. By 15, though, things had gotten out of hand. Hair started to sprout at the nape of my neck, the very apex of my back, and I asked the Universe what I was being punished for. That one time in first grade when I pulled a chair out from under that kid and made him cry? That time I pretended to like a girl, so I could get the rest of her Reese’s Pieces? Not calling my grandma more often? I couldn’t figure it out.

My body hair haunted me as a teenager. As an adult, though, I’ve learned to make peace with my body and come to terms with who I am.

Just kidding. I’m riddled with insecurities and self-doubt and have done everything within my power to annihilate my body hair.


As a teenager, my first avenue was shaving. In hindsight, this was a terrible idea, and I wish I hadn’t done it. Now, shaving doesn’t increase the rate of hair growth or make it darker. However, it does make that hair stubby and blunt, so it’s very ugly when it grows back. The hair also itches and, if you’re not careful, you risk ingrown hairs in unusual places. As the name implies, ingrown hairs are hairs that grow in instead of out. They curl up under the skin. At the very least, they’re unsightly. At the worst, they can cause infections. As I mentioned before, I have some back hair. Shaving your back is the hardest thing in the world. I have little stumpy arms, like a T-Rex, and I just can’t reach. It doesn’t matter what kind of extensions I bought for my razor or how I manage to contort my body, I just can’t reach every area. I’ve shaved almost every part of my body except my legs and my groin. To be honest, I’ve always liked the hair on my legs and I’m too afraid of ingrown hairs to play with the hair right below the belt.

My advice: If you do shave, keep at it. This kind of hair removal requires consistency and dedication.


Now, I stopped shaving because I am incredibly lazy and lack the mental fortitude to shave the hairy areas of my body every morning. I sought a different solution in the form of depilatory (or hair removal) creams. This worked OK for a while. I used Nair for Men. Basically, you spread a healthy amount of cream over the hairy area. How much you put depends on how much hair you actually have. Leave it on for several minutes, more than eight but less than 15. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Do not leave this cream on for more than fifteen minutes and do not place it on sensitive areas until you’ve tested it on other areas first. Basically, depilatories work by breaking down the proteins in your hair, making it fall out. However, because of the chemicals in the product, depilatory creams can also BURN you. I had been using Nair on my arms for a month or so and loved the results. I thought, why don’t I try this somewhere else. So, I slathered a whole bunch on my chest and abdomen. However, I had also covered my nipples, not reading Nair’s directions on how I shouldn’t have. It felt like I had taken a match, lit it, and then held it against my nipples for 10 minutes. And it felt like that for about two weeks. Actually, I still have scars from that day, a constant reminder of my hubris and failure. Besides this, the cream smells. Not badly, exactly, but it has a distinctive scent that isn’t entirely pleasant. I’m sure there are other creams out now that smell better.

My advice: Use at your own risk. Test on your skin, avoid sensitive areas, always read the directions.

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Now onto waxing. I used waxing more in college and now than anything else. Now, waxing gets kind of a bad rap sometimes, probably because of this scene:

I have about as much chest hair as Steve Carell in this scene, but he has more stomach hair. There are also numerous waxing videos on YouTube that all kind of tell the same story of a hairy man getting his hair ripped off and screaming/yelling at various pitches. Waxing is not that dramatic, and I think it’s hilarious that straight men (known for their macho tendencies) are making these videos. Many waxing places encourage you to take some Tylenol or Advil an hour or two before the session, to help mitigate pain, but I’ve never found it to be that bad. Does it hurt? Yes. But then your skin goes numb, and you can’t feel it anymore. I have recently been told that I have great back hair because it grows in good directions. I’ve limited the waxing to my back, chest, and arms. I lack both the bravery and the exhibitionist spirit to get a Brazilian and, as I’ve mentioned, I like my leg hair.

My advice: try it out at least once. Go to a professional spa or something similar: Woodhouse, European Wax Center, etc. Basically, any place that also offers massage treatments. Avoid getting your unlicensed friend to do it for you after that fifth shot of tequila.

Why do I want to get rid of my body hair? Mostly, it’s because it grosses me out. I don’t mind it so much on other people, but I’ve always hated it on myself. Could my decision be affected by the impossible aesthetic standards of gay men? Possibly. There’s not exactly a lot of hirsute gay men in television shows or magazines. Actually, there’s not a lot of hairy guys, gay or straight, anywhere. I’m not sure if there’s an organization that advocates for hairier people in media, but sometimes I think it’d be nice to have a hairy person on TV who is actually attractive and not portrayed as some kind of anomaly. Would this help me come to terms with my own hair? Maybe. But until then, excuse me while I call my esthetician.

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