An Article Guaranteed to Put Hair on Your Chest

by A Manly Guest Contributor on January 28, 2010 · 130 comments

in Dress & Grooming, Hair

Shave my chest hair for $10 Million?  Go to hell.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Anthony J. Gretz.

Do you remember that part in The 40 Year-Old Virgin where Andy (Steve Carell) goes to a salon and gets his chest waxed? The camera focuses on his face as he screams and yells out a string of obscenities while strip after strip of hair is ripped from his body. I don’t remember much about that movie. But I remember that part getting a huge reaction from the audience (myself included). Like many other guys, there is something about watching other men in non-life-threatening pain that makes me laugh- no matter how emotionally mature or “well-rounded” I think I am.

Yet as a man who has struggled over the years to accept my own hairy-chestedness, there’s something about this scene that doesn’t sit well with me. Andy ends up at the salon in the first place because his friends think waxing his chest will make him more appealing to women. Normally, I’d hesitate to read too deeply into a movie like The 40 Year-Old Virgin. But the idea that removing a man’s chest hair makes him more attractive is pervasive in our culture. Most actors and male models are boyishly devoid of any body hair, while guys with furry torso’s are typically the butt of jokes and/or ridicule. For every Tom Selleck , there are five hairless Justin Timberlakes or Taylor Laughtners that our culture holds up as being the “ideal” male. That sends a message to guys that having chest hair is gross and unappealing.

The Art of Manscaping

So what’s a hairy guy to do? Those of us who have been endowed with active, thriving follicles face a strong temptation to do something about our body hair. In recent years, the practice of manscaping -shaving, waxing, trimming, and/or scuplting body and facial hair -has gotten more and more attention. Some of this is practical – my friend David, for example, shaves around his nipples because he is a marathon runner, and he has to cover them with bandages on long runs so they don’t bleed. Totally practical.

Most of it, however, is out of a desire to appear less hairy than they actually are. Men of all stripes are doing things to their bodies that would either make our grandfathers wince and turn away or burst out laughing.

Yet who can blame them? Until I met my wife Anna, I was very self-conscious about having hair on my chest. And stomach. And back. And shoulders. I hated it, and I thought it made me unappealing. In high school, I can remember before and after every football game at least one person staring at me for way too long with a goofy smile on their face, or making a comment about “taking my sweater off before I got in the shower.” (Years later, I still get this every time I go to the beach with friends).

Oftentimes when I was in the shower I would compulsively pull or tweeze hair off my body in an attempt to “thin it out.” There were also several attempts to “shape” the hair on my stomach, which predictably resulted in an unnatural pattern of hair and gross stomach-stubble. One time, I even made a half-joking (but secretly curious) attempt to use my mom’s Nair to get rid of the hair at the top of my arm – the result of which was gross, oily arm hair and irritated skin.

Yet I now believe these actions, and the steps that many men take as part of their regular grooming routine, were unhealthy. There is a difference between grooming to honor an honest request from your partner or spouse, and being driven to alter your appearance by insecurity. I know that as much as I laughed off the jokes and the teasing, I resented looking different from most guys. I worried that I was physically unappealing, and I wanted to do something about it.

The Truth About Body Hair

So where did all this hair come from? Facial and chest hair are sometimes referred to as “androgenic hair,“ because their growth is regulated by testosterone and other hormones called androgens. These hormones occur in higher amounts in men than women, which is why men develop more facial, arm, leg, and chest hair than women (Auntie Gertie’s mustache not-withstanding).

In spite of a biological disposition for growing body hair, the amount of hair someone grows is mostly dependent on genetics. In researching this article, there does not seem to be a consensus on why this is. Some theorize that hair is destroyed by over-exposure to heat and sunlight, and thus, over time some cultures would develop a gene-pool where body hair became less prevalent. However, this does not seem compatible with the prevalence of body hair in many Mediterranean men. Others argue that losing body hair was necessary for survival against fur-loving parasites, although some scientists point out that hair can actually protect against insects, and that there has always been enough hair on our heads to make us vulnerable to lice and ticks.

Still, those of us with a torso that’s more like Chewbacca then Luke Skywalker have reasons to celebrate. Having body hair may make you self-conscious, but it can actually be quite useful in landing a date. Our bodies contain something called apocrine glands, which are located under the arms and near the genitals (two of the hairiest spots for most men). These glands produce an odorous chemical that acts to attract members of the opposite sex, like pheromones in animals. Body hair tends to trap those odors and amplify them, projecting the scent farther than it would otherwise go.

In addition, despite what we’ve come to believe through popular culture, many women actually find a hairy man to be quite attractive. According to a survey by Askmen.com, 76% of women said they like it when men have some chest hair. Just as men are attracted to the distinct characteristics that make women, women-such as breasts, smooth skin, and hips-women are attracted to the things unique to men-such as our muscles and body hair. My wife says she likes my body hair because it’s natural and masculine looking. “Some men are supposed to be hairy, and they would be incomplete without it,” she said. Most women find security, confidence, and stability at least as attractive as physical attributes. “Men who alter their appearance to look like someone else compromise that.”

Embrace Your Inner Selleck

It is my hope that many of you who struggle with your hairy lot in life will learn to accept, and even embrace the man that you are. Being hairy isn’t something to be ashamed of – if it’s the way you’ve been made, it’s part of what makes you, you. Part of the decline in manhood so often documented on this website stems from our willingness as men to let culture tell us what kind of man we’re supposed to be. You can keep manscaping if you want, and if your partner likes you less hairy, than there’s nothing wrong with compromise (women certainly do a lot of shaving for us) . But I’d encourage you to look in the mirror the next time you pick up a razor, and ask yourself why you feel the need to alter your appearance. If you can come to accept yourself for who you are, you will become a better, healthier, and more attractive man than any grooming could ever accomplish.

{ 129 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Angela April 16, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Chest hair, PLEASE. Unless you have the body of a Greek god, let it grow. …In fact, even if you have the body of a Greek god.

Now, in regards to women shaving (though not the point of this article), I’m one of those women that doesn’t shave. I wasn’t allowed to shave when I was young (cultural custom) and it never came up in adulthood. I trim, mind you, and trim well, but I’ve just never taken a razor to any part of me. The only negative comments I’ve ever received are from other women (usually young ones), and I receive plenty of positive ones.

My fiancee has to shave his chest for some parts in plays and I hate it, despite him being -very- fit. It helps that all the hair on his body is a lovely fire-gold, however.

102 Vert May 17, 2010 at 12:29 pm

LOL, I believe the answer is already in about why we have been losing hair through evolution. Its been a females traditional job to pick the parasites and nasty’s off of the man, (and vs versa), and its easier to do this job if there is less hair. Its simple natural selection. All you women who speak up here about liking hairy bodies, if you had to pick bugs off of him… and it would be less on a hairless body, what would YOU do?

PS, if it were easy, I would have the hair removed from my back in a second, its a very different story than chest hair.

103 John May 25, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I love this artical! When i was 11 i was shaving and at 12 i was starting to get a hairy chest and stumach. I have always had the sweater jokes and back in scouts my nick name was “The Beast”. despite having lots of people tell me i should shave becuase girls find it unattractive ( all guys telling me this mind you, not girls) i have always been proud of my mane ( most of it anyway, i admit the shoulder hair has bothered me a tad) Whenever someone stops, stares and says “you’re SO hairy” I always reply, “I prefer ultra manly but that works too”. Now i’m 18 and and way more hairy then most guys and more then anyone else i know of my age. I think it is silly for the culture to say that a man needs to be bare ( or hairy for that matter). You are how you are. Be proud of it!

104 thetoast May 27, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Not that I have very much body hair to begin with, but I regularly ditch everything below the neck, save for my pubic area (which I trim). I think that’s fine for me. It suits my physique and skin tone. However, I don’t particularly maintain my eyebrows, and am not all that keen on shaving my face.

105 George E. Amon III June 2, 2010 at 8:52 am

I have thought about this many times, more so during the HOT Louisiana summer months. I struggle with the decision to shave my chest, because I and my wife like the hair, Its manly. I do keep the hair, I just buzz it down to a number 2 in the begining of the summer and thats it until next year.

106 Mark June 19, 2010 at 9:02 am

Recently a woman I was dating asked me to trim my chest and pubic area. I am not excessively hairy but apparently she liked the shaved look. It ended the relationship. I don’t want a woman who wants me to look like a woman. If you don’t like it, fine..the next woman will. End of the story.

107 Mojdeh July 7, 2010 at 4:48 pm

As an official beard blogger! I clearly have some appreciation for hair on men! BUT in as much as I love a man with a good beard…if it’s long enough to braid…it’s PROBABLY too long (but there are always exceptions to the rules!)

Just like with women. Generally, I think, yes women often look softer/more feminine with shaved legs/arm pits, etc – but for ladies with very fair and soft skin – it’s not a big deal! As long as it’s kept under wraps.

So to every hairy boy and every hairy girl…just keep it short…and all is well!

See my beard blog at http://fortheloveofbeards.blogspot.com
See my Star Trek / Space blog at http://mospacecamp.blogspot.com

108 obispo July 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Thanks for the article! Before reading through it, I was considering shaving through my Robin Williams legs, but now I see that it’s perfectly natural to be hairy there. However, I have a slight dilemma. I shave the hair on my feet and toes because I find the Hobbit look unappealing, and the foot stubble can be really uncomfortable in socks, but I had someone comment on how I look odd having two hairy stalks and then bare feet. Does anyone have a good solution to this problem?

109 Jonathan July 14, 2010 at 3:32 am

This is a great article and something that I’ve been trying to get people to understand for years. I’m quite a hairy guy, to the point where my happy trail has turned into the Ho Chi Minh Trail. I’ve had family and friends tell me to shave it down but I always think about why I would ever do that. Apparently 76% of women agree that chest hair is fine and if I ever met a woman who didn’t like i then why would I continue a relationship? Besides I’d find shaving my chest to be a bad reflection of my own confidence in my body and mental state. If I don’t even have confidence in how I look then I couldn’t expect anybody to like me.

110 Adam July 18, 2010 at 7:25 pm

The men on both sides of my family were quite hairy. As a result, I always associated hairiness with manliness. I started shaving at 12 and had a chest full of hair by tenth grade. I never considered removing body hair to please anyone. This is who I am: a MAN.

But now that the only grey hair I have is all on my face (just like my dad), I try to remain clean-shaven because otherwise I look 15 years older. And there are certain issues with other hair getting caught in the zipper of my pants if I’m not careful. So now I engage in some hidden manscaping. But it’s always pleased the women in my life. Double WIN.

111 whitman August 10, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Another vote for hairiness here. Not interested in a rubbery, hairless aesthetic, or worse — the porn-inspired pubic pompom. Still, there’s nothing wrong with moderation. I trim the pits quarterly for the practical reason that anti-perspirant works better when applied to skin. And I trim the sac for other equally practical reasons… I aspire to one day in the distant future joining the ranks of the leathery old men on the beach with a billowing cloud of white chest hair. Meanwhile, I challenge all men to unbutton the second button — start with just one weekend a month! — and rock your inner Selleck.

112 Igor August 19, 2010 at 11:32 am

Thank you for this article!!! I’m 19 year old..when i was 15 i shaved my chest once
now i have full hair chest..until I read this article I was very very self-conscious
I always thought hairy chest is unapealing.Now i realise how manly is to have hair on chest,and that I’m lucky one.thanks again,this article pointed me to the right path :-)

113 Almorr October 11, 2012 at 3:16 am

As a reply to 18 year old John, that reminds me also when I was younger as a teenager people were also calling me a werewolf as far as my chest was concerned and having arms as hairy as a monkey. I also have a very hairy neck, extending down to my shoulders. I am not ashamed of being like that as during the summer months I am always wearing sleeveless vests and tank tops to expose my hairy shoulders to the sun and fresh air. So be a man, be hairy and proud of that.

114 Sonny October 25, 2012 at 10:48 am

I am very hairy, i have a moustache and everywhere i go people say i look like selleck, a lady in walmart that takes pictures of people made a picture of me and put it on this calendar. i gave my sister a copy of the calendar and everybody that visits her ask her where she got the selleck calendar, my sister laughs and says thats my brother, they say yeah ok. they really believe i`m the real thing….so i don`t have a problem with my hairy chest. however this morning i shaved my moustache b/c i`d had it for 35 years and i just decided to try a new look…….Be yourself and if women don`t like you for that then it`s a sure bet you are with the wrong woman………Sonny…..

115 sonny October 25, 2012 at 11:07 am

I have chest hair and i have pictures of me that people say i look like selleck, for what ever thats worth……but if women don`t like you hairy then find you another one that does…but i`m a divorced Guy and i haven`t been in a relationship in a long time. i have a nice pad, but i`m picky and i will not be in a relationship just to be seen with a woman. i know what i want and if i don`t get her then i stay on my own….she must have long hair down the back and and a decent figure with a pleasing face. i don`t care if she is a country Girl or city Girl, and she don`t have to be high flooting with degrees, it wouldn`t matter if she didn`t finish high school just as long as she fits the above description, and above all SHE LOVES ME AND ONLY ME, AND SHE WOULD GET THE SAME LOVE FROM ME….

116 sonny October 25, 2012 at 11:20 am

I might add i haven`t been in a relationship in a long time…i`m divorced and have a nice bachelor pad, but i`m like Cher she said i`m not gonna be with someone just to say i`m in a relationship…..i want a Woman with long hair down her back with a pleasing shape and a pleasing face. she can be a little ole country girl (you all) or a city girl and she don`t have to be high flooting with deegrees, infact she don`t even have to have high school as long as she fits the above description. and above all SHE LOVES ME AND ONLY ME JUST AS I WILL LOVE HER AND WE WILL BE TOGETHER FOR LIFE. so guys be who GOD created you to be hairy or no hair and love yourself for who you are……….Sonny………

117 Mike Griffith December 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I went to high school in the 70′s with this kid named Joe. We all went to high school with one of these, you know – the kid that was built like a roman god and who was covered with hair from head to foot. This kid would show up at the swimming pool, furry muscled speedo clad body on display for all to see. Everyone would just stand there and stare at him commenting on how sexy and manly he looked. Today this would be considered repulsive because people are stupid enough to believe what the media tells them is attractive rather than follow their own dictates. Face it hairy men are sexy as hell. Nothing says “I am an adult male” more than body hair.

118 pete January 28, 2013 at 10:10 am

Ahem, what about butt hair? I’ve got a fair bit and I’ve always been self-conscious about it. What does everyone else think about it? I though about shaving it, but it blends seamlessly with my leg hair and an abrupt transition from hairy legs to clean butt would be weird. Any advice?

119 Jacques January 28, 2013 at 10:27 am

Aww man, I thought this article was going to be on techniques on how to grow chest hair. Always wanted more because I don’t have much. :/

120 Mark February 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Ive had a moderatly hairy back/shoulder for a while and decided to check out a laser hair removal salon and went through a session….it hurts a bit but the results are amazing, once the hair started regrowing i noticed it was thinner and less course! The general rule of thumb for skin compatability is light skin and dark haired people are the berst candidents. I’d recommend it to my fine furred friends out there!

121 Samuel March 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

GREAT post! I am also endowed with a good amount of body hair. Not really a fan of it, but that is due to my incredible low-confidence. I even remember “courting” a lady, taking off my shirt, and giggles were abundant. This was not the best response. I am happy to see stories/experiences shared. This has definitely given me a better outlook upon body hair. I must say Sir, your wife knows what is really good. cheers.

122 ciciero March 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm

My wife loves this hairy guy.

123 Steve July 1, 2013 at 7:16 am

Chest, abdomen foliage is very manly. Shoulders and back begins to be a little much for me. Check the Selleck photo above-his shoulders were cleaned off, I’ll bet money. If you have that much on your chest, it doesn’t just stop at your shoulders in a nice, sharp line. I’m a hairbear, always have been, luckily my wife likes it. However, I do keep it a little shorter in front with a monthly buzz. The back?–well, it’s been a long time since I’ve been swimming in public.

124 Doug August 15, 2013 at 10:09 am

Waxing and shaving? Seems like more trouble than it’s worth. As Toki Wartooth (of Metalocalypse fame) would say: “Just deals vith it”. If my dog has more fur than me, then everything is as it should be.

125 Dom August 28, 2013 at 4:39 am

Im 16, have hair on my chest and legs and come from a Spanish and German background. I go to a school made up of a lot of Filipino, Vietnamese and Islander backgrounds. Because of this I’m teased even though I believe it’s quite gay-like (no offence intended). Still I’m insecure about it and not sure whether to manscape to fit in or just stay true to who I am.

126 Mike August 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm

i have a hairy chest, legs and forearms along with thinning hair on my head but never had a problem scoring with the ladies. physically, women want someone in shape and body hair is definitely manly. why would you want to look like youre prepubesent?? its all about confidence!

127 david November 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm

am 18 years old and up until a few weeks ago i just had hairs around my nipples but
now i have a patch of hair between my pecs

128 charles November 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm

hi am 25 years old my back forarms legs are all hairy and i started to get chest hair when i was 17 now for my chest down to my navil am hairy

129 Chad December 16, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Dom, you should always be proud of who and what you are, no matter what it may be. There are plenty of guys out there that have little to no body hair and they would LOVE to have our “problem”.

I remember being a kid and wanting to be hairy when I grew up. Now, pushing 30, I’m right where I think I should be, a decent amount of chest / stomach hair and I love it. But I did manscape one summer and I’m glad I did for two reasons.

One, I appeared more flabby and it inspired me to start working out. I’ve been lifting weights for almost a year now and it has become a part of my life. Who knew that shaving my chest hair could make me take a more healthy approach to life? And I have definite muscle definition that helps me to appear more “manly” in my own eyes.

Two, I now know that my wife truly likes my natural look more so than the manscaped version and that makes me feel even better about myself.

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