Hairy, Smooth, or Shorn?

There are no two ways about it. I am a ginger. Actually, I’m more like a super ginger. My hair is closer to orange than red, and it’s riotous as a crazy Halloween wig. I share this because it helps explain the scant bit of fair hair I have on my chest. What got me thinking about body hair was a recent guy-on-guy encounter. I’ll call the other guy Glenn, though that’s not his real name. In retrospect, his thick, bushy eyebrows and heavy five o’clock shadow should have taken some of the surprise out of the moment he removed his clothing. From curly wisps of black hair clinging to the tops of Glenn’s toes, up a pair of woolly legs to a furry rump, and further north to his hirsute back, chest, and shoulders, Glenn was epically hairy. He must have noticed the expression on my face because he immediately changed moods, indicated with deflation as immediate as a balloon’s popping. His embarrassment caused mine; I felt terrible that my reaction had made him feel awkward. The moment was lost.

Hours later, at home and standing naked in front of the mirror, I appraised my white, freckled body, with particular attention paid to outcrops of hair in places other than on my head. Whereas Glenn is exceedingly furry, I am exceptionally smooth—and where I do have hair, it is light in color. That assessment got me thinking about judgments on how much hair we should have and where it ought to be.

I see guys in the gym’s locker room who have shaved or trimmed various parts of their bodies, from chest to pubes to legs. Aside from, say, swimmers who do so to achieve a streamlined physique—not accounting for those who buzz what lies beneath the Speedo—guys shave their body hair to increase their appeal. I suppose it also works in reverse: bald guys who get plugs, for example. 

By now, you might be thinking, “So? What’s your point, Hayden? Guys do things—work out, diet, dye their hair, grow a beard, shave a beard, gain weight, lose weight, and on and on—to appear more attractive to mates.” Fair enough. But my point is: There is a problem when we allow shallow preferences to make us feel bad about ourselves. Back to Glenn: I was surprised, not turned off. But sadly, Glenn was embarrassed. I wish I could have a do-over with him. And yet, although my look of surprise triggered his anxiety, I didn’t cause it. What Glenn thought shameful, I found alluring—I just needed a moment to realize it. If Glenn could see himself as I do, he’d not only get more action, but, I suspect, he’d also be happier. I wish that for him. He’s a good guy! A good and gloriously hairy guy!

And so, in closing, I encourage you to strip off your clothes, stand in front of the mirror and pinch that extra inch (or more) at your waist, run your hand over your hairless head or through your thicket of fur wherever it may reside, and realize how right RuPaul is when she closes each show with the words: If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you going to love someone else? Amen, Ru! Amen.

Till next time, I’m Hayden

And remember, if you can’t be good, be safe!

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