Saturday, July 18, 2009

Don't cave into the Manscape craze. Dump the Razor, dudes and stay naturally Hairy

I realize that there are more pressing issues in the world today, but when it comes to shaving body hair, that, to me, is an issue worth discussing.

I love male body hair. I am hairy and I want to see other guys embrace what God has given them.

Say NO to the urge to shave and cream away body hair. Take a manly stance.

Mega HAIRY muscle hugs of camaraderie and hirsute bonding. We hairy guys need to stick together.

Men are going hairless in increasing numbers

12:00 AM CDT on Monday, July 13, 2009

By CATHERINE SAINT LOUIS New York Times News Service

American women didn't shave their armpits en masse until the 1920s, after a storm of sleeveless dresses and advertising by depilatory makers that characterized underarm hair as ugly.

By the 1930s, beauty writers scolded women with forests of leg hair under their silk stockings. Decades later, girls coming of age no longer needed to be told their leg hair was unsightly. They got rid of it.

Can the same thing happen with men?

These days, the hair on men's chests, backs, armpits and even "down there" has become suspect – if you believe the marketing campaigns. Several recent online videos created by brands such as Gillette recast body-hair removal as the domain of average Joes.

Having a chest as smooth as Matthew McConaughey's is old hat for competitive swimmers, urbane metrosexuals and some gay men. To play Brüno, a gay fashion reporter who favors hot pants, the formerly hirsute Sacha Baron Cohen endured repeated waxathons.

But evidence from market research and academia indicates that more men are removing body hair. The phenomenon skews to mostly college-age guys or those in their 30s. Reasons run the gamut from Because My Girlfriend Likes It to a desire to flaunt a six-pack or be clean.

"It used to be a hallmark of male models and homosexuals," said Kat Fay, a senior analyst at Mintel, who writes an annual men's grooming report. She added that the high-maintenance primping of metrosexuals was clustered in cities; by contrast, this campaign has "more of an everyday middle-America feel."

Little research has been done on male body depilation. Michael Boroughs, a psychology graduate student at the University of South Florida, has done studies that showed that more than 80 percent of men surveyed at the school use some sort of body depilation. Numbers were similar for gay and straight men.

Unsurprisingly, the loudest voices making the case for so-called manscaping are the creators of shaving gear. What may surprise, however, is how candid the "manscaping" pitches are.

In May, Gillette started a series of videos online suggesting that men go further with body shaving. The rationale varied by part.

Chest? "A sweater should be bought not grown."
Armpits? "An empty stable smells better than a full one."

And their coup de grâce is the groin: "Trees look taller when there's no underbrush."

A muscular cartoon with pixeled privates even shows how to get bare without putting "your equipment at risk."

On the site for Nivea for Men, Jislain Duval, a Canadian model, demonstrates its Active3 shower gel by shaving starlike patterns around his nipples. As he gazes at his private parts, the camera stays waist-up; yet, the scene doesn't leave much to the imagination.

A comely blonde turns feral at the sight of a cleanshaven chest in a video ad for Braun's BodycruZer, a precision trimmer with a Gillette blade.

In late May, Gillette's How to Shave Your Groin video ranked No. 3 on a list of the top online video advertisements compiled by Visible Measures, an Internet video measurement firm.

Showing men removing their body hair normalizes it. "Just having a video that's not threatening is helping them say it's fine," said Nicolas Maurer, the vice president for marketing at Beiersdorf USA, of which Nivea is a brand. "That's a kind of reassurance for guys."

Yet, do women prefer their men sleek? Not necessarily. Hairless armpits can be a deal breaker, which is odd, because those female naysayers may shave their underarms. Constant YouTube presence Asbellgrad commented about a Gillette video: "Trust me, a girl is turned off by a man who shaves his armpits. It's kind of weird and creepy. Unless you're an Olympic swimmer."

Plenty of female commenters online dislike suitors with less body hair than they have. As Eleanorxjane wrote about a chest-shaving video on YouTube, "I want a real man, not one that's trying to look like he's 12 again!"

Having hair on one's chest – as the expression suggests – signals maturity and boldness. Think Hugh Jackman.

Will today's minority of men engaging in body shaving one day be the majority? Boroughs thinks we are on our way. He has heard from bewildered parents whose teenage sons shaved their chests and ended up with ingrown hairs. In the future, Boroughs wonders, "Are prepubescent boys going to feel pressure to shave like girls do?"