I’ve dated a lot of metaphorical amphibians, but when it comes down to actual human bodies, I prefer a guy who’s a little more mammal and a lot less long-toed salamander or southern gastric-brooding frog. I don’t know if we should blame 80s body builder culture, the androgynous 90s grunge aesthetic, 21st century online porn, or Michael Phelps’ over-rated status as a sex symbol for the widespread bewilderment surrounding men’s body hair, but somewhere along the way, the Tom Sellecks of yesteryear lost their pop culture appeal.
I can’t tell you the number of my guy friends who’ve expressed legitimate concern to me that they can’t rock American Apparel white V-necks because they’re afraid their chest hair will poke through the fabric. Dudes, just let it! If I was a burly man who oozed testosterone, not only would I show off my body hair, I’d crush beer cans on my forehead and put cigarettes out on my tongue.
I’m sure being totally hairless comes in handy from time to time, like when you want to go down waterslides really fast or butter yourself up to smuggle drugs through vents, but other than that, properly managed body hair looks really sexy on guy. You’ve just got to learn the tricks to maintaining it. Fortunately for you, I’ve Edward Scissorhands’d my way through a few totally ridiculous relationships with hairy guys to know how it’s done. Let’s get to it!
Don’t: Remove back hair if it’s not that drastic
Back hair gets a bad rap. A little bit of back hair is actually superhot. It gives us ladies something to stare at and count when you sleep with your back to us and we’re trying not to over-analyze what it all means: “Does he want me to lea… one back hair, two back hair, three… Wait, who is this guy?” You get the idea. That said, a large amount of back hair gives us something to make fun of you for when you inevitably break our hearts, so get it under control before we start prematurely labeling you ‘Neandrathug’ or ‘St. John the Baptist’. (Get it? C’mon, that’s hilarious!)
The easiest solution is, of course, to wax, but truthfully, waxing always leads to the odd ingrown hair and repeat visits to the waxer for the rest of your life. Sure, the hair will likely grow in a bit lighter than before, so waxing is a great option if you can’t afford more extreme body hair removal measures, but it’s a lot of upkeep, so be warned. Just never, ever shave your back, unless you want to come up with a lie that those sharp needles on your back are just left over from acupuncture or that you’re starring in the Broadway adaptation of Hellraiser.
I honestly suggest opting for permanent removal via laser treatment. It’s going to take a number of visits before it’s gone forever, but laser removal works best on thick, dark hair, so it’s really ideal for the back. Yeah, it’s a bit expensive, but if you bought a convertible to up your sex appeal, why are you still rocking a full hood on your back? You’re missing the point of having a mid-life crisis, which is obviously to have sex with younger people, and young people are scared of too much back hair! Fact.
Don’t: Reach for a trimmer
I’m going to get a lot of slack for this, but I’ll tell you a quick story that will gross the sh*t out of you to help prove my point. I once lived with two guys who realized they were accidentally both using the same bathroom trimmer, one for his chest, and the other for his pubic region. When they realized that there was only ever one trimmer in the apartment and that they’d both been engaging in intimate activity with it, I might as well have shown them photos of them having a drunken threeway with Lindsay Lohan that they blocked out. I enjoyed this moment enormously, like I was watching my own real-life version of the sexy ending to Y Tu Mamá También with Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, but they were obviously less enthused and both swore off trimming for a while.
The truth is, there’s no need to use an actual trimmer. In fact, it looks almost too groomed in the end. Just buy a pair of hairdresser or mustache scissors and trim your chest and pubic region carefully and don’t make all your hair the same length. You shouldn’t be treating your body like you’re the horticulturist at Chateau de Versailles. If we’re going for a floral metaphor here, your body hair should look like an English garden: kept but natural. Just be careful wielding those scissors around your nipples, unless if you’re a member of The Unsullied in Game of Thrones (season 3, episode 1) and you just don’t give a damn.
Don’t: Pluck your own eyebrows
If you read enough articles on how to line up a comb with your nose to figure out where to start plucking your eyebrows, you’ll have the false sense of confidence that you know what you’re doing. It’s your face, dude, and unless Kato Kaelin is your style icon, I suggest leaving the shaping to a professional. If you’re shy about going to an esthetician, make your next hair appointment at a salon that also offers eyebrow shaping and casually mention to your hairdresser that you’d like to clean up your brows a bit. You’re already there, and chances are some dude in the dye station getting tinfoil highlights is already embarrassing himself more than you, so just go for it. It takes a few minutes, and you’ll feel like a whole new you.
Don’t: Forget to check for new hairs
As we get older, our bodies start to do new weird things that they never used to. A friend of mine started growing a sixth toe on the top of her foot and had to have it removed. At first, it was kind of cool, but she couldn’t wear anything other than flip-flops, and this is Canada, so it literally cramped her style. Obviously, new body hair doesn’t stand out like a sore sixth toe, but it’s there and – trust me – a person you don’t want to gross out will definitely be the first to see it if you don’t try to find it, isolate it and pluck it the hell out before someone else gets to play Columbus in the wonderland that is your body. I have this blonde hair that grows on my left shoulder at three times the speed of the hair on my head. I know this because sometimes I let it grow out when I need an ice breaker to bring around to parties. That said, crazy ear hairs, jam-packed nostrils and hairy moles will never make for good conversation starters with strangers.
North Americans have been somewhat conditioned to avoid closely examining our own bodies, so we tend to miss the odd weird hair that’s rooted itself like ruthless weed in our English garden (I’m taking my belief in this metaphor to the dog track, homies!). Obviously, I blame early New England colonies of the 17th century as well as misinterpretations of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter for our collective fear of our own physicality, but it’s too late now, so we’ve just got to deal, right?
Just take the odd day to stand under good lighting completely naked with everything you need to get those pesky hairs out of the way. A few strands of chest hair poking through the fabric of your V-neck might be sexy, but a girl’s never going to be wowed by a guy’s masculinity if his ear hairs are harpooning their way through his toque. Just know that, for the most part, we ladies like a little something to hold on to, and not all hairy situations are a bad thing.