Think, off the top of your head, of 3 current male celebrities that you find attractive. Some answers I got were Idris Elba, Benedict Cumberbatch, Drake and Channing Tatum. Good looking? Yes, all of them. In good shape? Of course. Hairless? Perhaps surprisingly, yes, they all were. So does this mean men are now facing the same hair-phobia that has plagued women for years? A cursory look at Storm Management’s selection of male models revealed that almost all of them sported chests as bare and smooth as, well, mine. Maybe more so.
Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, George Clooney being a good example, but the general impression I got was that, for young men emerging into the most body conscious industries in the world, bald is the new black. But what does this mean for the rest of their bodies, and what does this mean for men IRL?
Well The Mirror, fountain of knowledge that it is, reckons that almost 40% of men feel pressure to keep their beards looking groomed. But a quick once around my male friends would have told me the same thing and, looking back at some of the historically fashionable beards of the past, it seems to have been a concern for men for quite some time. But what about this 19% of men the Mirror claims feel pressure to remove hair from their chests, or even the 13% of men they state feel they should be shaving their legs and armpits? These are far newer concerns for our men and I can’t help but wonder if the rise in baby-smooth starlets has anything to do with it.
Strangely, the reasons I’ve heard for women being preferred hairless, like preserving youth, are the opposite of what I’ve heard in discussions on why male body hair is becoming less attractive. Although men do seem younger without their hair, the reason it should be desirable apparently has more to do with the masculinity now associated with muscular, yet hairless, bodies. There seems to be a strange dichotomy emerging when it comes to hair removal; it at once makes women more feminine and men more masculine.
Pressure to alter your appearance is not something that should be put upon anyone, yet it is, and constantly, so I can’t say I am surprised to find men dealing with some of the same burdens as women when it comes to our physicality, especially when there is money to be made from it. However the greatest difference between the standards put upon men and those held to women, is that if a man chooses to stop waxing or shaving it is accepted. They are not subject to the same stares on the tube if they don’t have time to shave their ankles one morning. But this is not to say that shaving, or not shaving, is a bad thing. It is nothing other than your choice. So I promise not to let my eyes pop quite so far out of my head next time I see you’ve decided to shave your armpits. Whatever makes you feel good, really.