Wherever you look, there is plenty of discourse on body hair concerning women. Between shaving already hairless legs in Gilette adverts and Bella Thorne’s unshaven pits all over the Gram, you’re never hard pressed to find someone with an opinion on female body hair. But there is a surprising silence surrounding male body hair. If, in our modern world, women don’t have to shave, why do we assume that men are not allowed to shave? It goes both ways, and I think it’s high-time that we considered why some men choose to shave their body hair. I have a friend who identifies as male, specifically a ‘fem looking’, pansexual male, and he often shaves various parts of his body. Most often, his chest, pubic, and leg hair. I had a chat with him to get to know when, what, and why he chooses to shave his body hair, in order to get a male perspective.
The main reasons that he chooses to shave his body hair have to do with comfort and appearance. We all understand how body hair can be a bit uncomfortable, especially in this 30 degree summer! What I found most interesting from our conversation was the idea that chest hair simply doesn’t suit him; his personality and his body type. He described himself as a ‘femboy’, meaning a male person whose appearance is more feminine, and this was a significant factor in his body hair choices. Chest hair, among other kinds of body hair, doesn’t really fit into the typical image of a femboy, so in identifying and expressing this way, he chooses to align his body hair choices. Gender expression is a vast and varied field, and body hair can play a part in that. My friend told me that he uses body hair as a way of identifying more strongly with his gender; when he feels more feminine, he shaves to emphasise that, and similarly, shaving makes him identify more with his femininity. Just as women can shave to feel more feminine and glam (problematic, but so it stands), men and non-binary people can too.
We chatted about how my friend’s body hair relates to his romantic life. For my friend, who takes NSFW pictures pretty often, pubic hair doesn’t fit into the image he’s trying to create, and thus it is gone. I wondered whether he’d ever felt under any pressure to shave or not shave; he told me that he hadn’t. None of his sexual/romantic partners had ever made him feel pressurised about his body hair, nor had he ever pressurised any of his partners, so I found it interesting and uplifting that in his romantic experiences, pressure around male body hair had never entered into it. Instead, it was more the internal pressure that pushes him to shave. Although it is totally his choice to shave, he explained that he feels more attractive and more typical of his appearance type when he shaves, so this compels him to shave. Furthermore, as anyone who has ever shaved and grown out their pubic hair will know, stubble is not comfortable. At all. So if you shave fairly often, you basically have to shave all the time. Shaving his body hair might not come from pressure from sexual partners, but it certainly relates to sexual behaviour and experience.
We don’t talk nearly enough about non-female people’s body hair habits, for some reason we’ve reserved shaving just for the gals. But this conversation with my friend made it clear to me that people of all genders have various habits with their body hair, and various reasons behind these habits, and we would do better to discuss them openly. We all think of our body hair differently, and there are a million different options, why not experiment with yours?