My Gay Identity Crisis: To Shave or Not to Shave Body Hair

Dear Braun,

Thanks for the Series 5 Electric Razor you sent me. Clearly, you looked at my face and realized I was in need of a good shave.

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This is what my face normally looks like. Sort of in-between scruff and beard. Baby beard:

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Sometimes I crop off my beard for stubble, that looks like this:

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I’m pretty sure this is the last time my face didn’t have at least a little hair on it:

baby

When I received this delightful Braun razor, I wasn’t really sure what to do with it since I don’t normally shave my face. So naturally I used it to shave off the entirety of my body hair. Not really, but kind of. And that’s what I’d like to talk about today. My weird relationship with the hair on my body.

One of the things I’ve noticed at the countless shirtless events I go to (pool parties, the beach, the Gay Pavillions, Gay Citibank, etc…) is that gay men have fascinating body hair maintenance rituals. There’s Waxed Gays, trimmed Gays, Shaved Gays, and Hairy Gays. Gay pool parties are like art museums where each attendee is a specimen of some rarified style of body hair maintenance. Some allow it to be natural, some are as smooth and plastic as lifesize Ken Dolls. Here is one such Ken Doll (I’m pretty sure this is a wax figure):

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Then there’s this guy has a hairy face and a not-hairy body:

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And this guy who is hairy all over:

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And here’s a special case study on body hair. Here is actormodel Rick D’Agostino with a shaved chest:

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And here he is keeping it real with a hairy chest:

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Which do you like better?

And, for good measure, here’s another hairlessman:

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While the majority of WeHo Gays are shaven/smooth/waxed/plastic, I’ve definitely noticed the trend is moving towards allowing chest hair to grow free. The more-hip Eastside Gays have been hairy for years, and now the WeHo Gas are following suit. I think it has something to do with all the hot 70z Gays featured in Milk. Basically the only people still shaving their chest hair off are older, body builders, or people like me who are inexplicable terrified of their own body hair.

So why am I so concerned with controlling my body hair? I think partially it has to do with how I’ve been conditioned by this bubble that I willingly live in (the West Hollywood). When everyone around you looks like a fitness model, it kind of changes your expectations of what you’re supposed to look like. I never really notice until I leave how unreal (and unrepresentative of the general population) this community can be. When I leave Los Angeles I realize that not everyone has perfect bodies, glamourclothes, and bleached teeth. Obsessing over every minute detail of our personal appearance is the expectation in West Hollywood and other Gaylands around the world. Clearly, this is ridiculous and stupid, but it’s the reality in these little Gay bubbles.

But I can’t really blame my obsession with controlling my body hair on everyone being a plastic actormodel. I think really I just have an innate fear of (my own) body hair. So while I recognize that I would be way cooler if I just let my chest hair grow long and lustrous like a glamorous Tom of Finland illustration, I’m also totally scared and terrified of that notion because I am scared and terrified of my own body. Which clearly I need to work on but shaving is so much easier and fun.

So, I find myself at a crossroads. Do I continue shaving my chest like a 90z Circuit Queen? Or do I let it grow naturally so that each day when I look in the mirror I am terrified and feel dirty and scared? This is where you come in. How do you maintain your body hair? Take this poll, leave a comment, tell me everything.

Love,

Orlando

PS: Here, for no reason, are some images of hot guys with beards:

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PSS: Thanks to Braun for the glam razor. They’re not paying me, so I’m not obligated to say anything nice about their product, but I will say that it’s the closest shave I’ve ever gotten from an electric razor (seriously almost as close as a real blade) and that it gave me that close shave without ripping off my entire neck like traditional razors do. Am I the only one who has this problem? I feel like every time I shave my neck looks like the elevator from The Shining. Anyway, if you’re in the market for an electric razor that will allow to shave without cutting yourself, I recommend the Series 5. [Turns to camera: “Can I have my money now?”]

25 Comments

Filed under Style

25 Responses to My Gay Identity Crisis: To Shave or Not to Shave Body Hair

  1. hmmm looks like so far I fit in the majority of slightly trimmed chest hair group, hurray?

  2. I think I need to take a trimming class. Or I should figure out how to set up a Manscaping Workshop.

    • My (straight, red-headed) husband is super hairy on his face and neck, going bald on top (don’t tell him, shh), and almost completely hairless on his body. It’s weird. I sometimes think I have more body hair than he does. I once counted his chest hairs and found a total of seven. So for what it’s worth, it’s kinda nice that you can grow a full crop, O!

  3. For a while my husband would shave the hair on his chest and I found it very off-putting when it would grow back and be all stubbly. I think I’d rather have the hair.

  4. I hit puberty when I was in elementary school, so I was really ashamed to be hairy (mustache and some chest hair) when I was in 6th grade. Then I realized I was hairier than my friends when I was a teenager and it still bothered me. When I was older I decided to trimm it and it was great. Long body hair can be itchy. Now that I’m about to be 40 I decided to get rid of something that bothered me my entired life. I’m in the middle of the IPL process and It works. Apparently being hairy is now fashionable, but guess what? I’m really happy not being hairy and I did it because I wanted to. Many people I know told me it was hot to be hairy. Maybe it is, actually I like body hair, but not in my body. I did it just for me, so, do what you really want to do 🙂

  5. David

    Don’t shave. If yer gonna do it, do it right. Wax. Also, with waxing, at some point you can decide to stop, and the hair will be less, which you may be willing to live with. Plus, the regrowth from waxing isn’t nearly as harsh as it is when recovering from shaving; it’s actually kinda peach-fuzzy, which is kinda hot.

  6. Bearded hairy guy here who leaves it all natural, back included. Whilst I’ve tried waxing & shaving bits of my hair, it’s way too much maintenance. And I realised that there are guys who like hairy guys just as there are guys who like smooth guys. Me, I like my men bearded & furry. Shaving & waxing are a turn off…

  7. James

    I’d say go for a little trimming here and there. I find men with hairy forearms and chest/stomach the bee’s knees <3 (to a point). You would look great with a little body hair, and if it turns out to be something you don't like, it's not like you don't have a brand new razor to shave it all off haha. G'luck 🙂

  8. aww…what a cute school(?) picture

  9. You can trim, but for the love of everything that is decent and manly, please stop shaving! This could be a new turn for you. I’m excited.

  10. Noooooo i have this dilemma on and off all the time, a little note on the beard you might find interesting http://macarthursmutterings.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/to-beard-or-not-to-beard/ I love a man with hair 😉

  11. Emily

    Oof. Please just let your body be what it is. Well, without going full 1970’s body hair crazy and developing what my fiancé not so affectionately calls, “the hair unitard.” Other than that, how long do we need to keep beating ourselves up for who we naturally are? I say this as a woman in constant battle with my own self, but I think applies universally to those of us who expect perfection in ourselves, but find flaws.

  12. Michael Goodwin

    The worst thing about fear is the fear itself. And not to sound like a complete bitch, but being afraid of our own body hair (?) sounds like a first-world problem to me.

    So, back to your post. I used to be one of those buff, gym twinks. I worked out 4 hours a day, 6 days a week. Perfect abs, perfect teeth, local modeling, etc. Then I thought about being 90, a luxury I have that many gay men just a little older than I am do not. Do I want to look back on my life and remember all the time I spent shaving and waxing and buffing my body to make it look like something that isn’t really mine to begin with? Just for the possibility of getting laid?

    To answer your question more succinctly, which, I suppose, is now impossible: if know I’m going somewhere special, I lightly trim the hair I’ve got. Generally just maintaining it and keeping it tidy. If it starts to take more than 7 minutes, I’ll stop. I have more important things to worry about.

    Michael

  13. Anthony

    I trim whenever I’m about to hit the beach or water park. Outside of that I leave it alone. I have moderate chest hair.

    I don’t like shaving it all off because I can’t stand the itching and it looks odd as it starts to grow back.

    On my face sometimes I’m smooth and sometimes I have a short scruffy beard. It depends on my mood.

  14. No, no, no!!!! Don’t listen to the ‘let it all go and be natural’ arguments!!! We’re gay, not lesbians. Unrealistic body expectations are what keep our waistlines slim and faces attractive. They also keep us slightly unbalanced, which is part of the classic, Judy Garland loving gay charm. Do you really want to wake up one day and see a hairier Rosie O’Donnell in the mirror? I didn’t think so.
    If you’re lazy, like me, just use a hair removal cream before you take a shower.
    If you’re planning on growing back hair so it’s long enough to braid, I’m going to start a change.org petition to stop you.

    • Emily

      Ha! But the hairy guy in the pic above is super hot. His situation is under control, but still not a waxaholic. “Natural” (ish) but not Clan of the Cave Bear.

  15. Kedar

    I usually just trim my chest hair a little when the start poking their heads out of the neck of my tee. But most people I meet like the fuzz and I personally think a little fuzz showing through an open shirt neck is hot. Waxed and shiny smooth looks unnatural. As for my beard I have vigorous growth and I keep experimenting with different beard styles. Why not if you have got the growth? I am lucky I get a full and even growth everywhere. Many of my friends complain that they can’t even have a proper french beard because their facial hair are so patchy and thin!

  16. Pingback: Accepting Bodies as They Are – slimegreen

  17. Why do Americans hate the natural male body and view it as ugly, distastefull and in need of cosmetic alteration? Mutilating baby penises and leaving scars, lumps and discolorations is regarded as a beautification, when in reality it is a barbaric diminution of form and function for no reason. Shaving all vestiges of body hair is a feminization of the male which is grotesque and utterly weird, particularly now that the stubble look on the face is ubiquitous. The contrast bwtween a rugged and hot face and an effiminate hairless body is, as I say, grotesque.

    • John

      I am naturally smooth I have hairless face, chest, legs, arms, back, & butt, I do have underarm hair as well as bushy pubes & lots of thick hair on my head but I’m so smooth everywhere else I NEVER WAX SHAVE OR LASER!!!!! I’m 37 years old. Blonde blue eyed. & very gym fit. Does that mean I’m grotesque? I THINK YOUR VERY JUDGMENTAL ROBERT & YOU NEED TO SERIOUSLY GET OVER YOURSELF.

    • Kevin

      I agree wholeheartedly about circumcision but I hate body hair on myself and others. My forskin was taken from me when I was a newborn. I had no choice over my own body. Now I’m an adult and I chose to get rid of 99% of my body hair because I dislike it.

  18. John

    I am naturally smooth I have hairless face, chest, legs, arms, back, & butt, I do have underarm hair as well as bushy pubes & lots of thick hair on my head but I’m so smooth everywhere else I NEVER WAX SHAVE OR LASER!!!!! I’m 37 years old. Blonde blue eyed.

  19. Sebastian

    I trim just enough so that my body hair looks like I take care of it, specially my chest hair. Anything more than that and I start feeling naked and feminine.
    Besides the less you touch your body hair, the less you have to keep up with it. I don’t see myself shaving my entire torso every two days and I can’t stand body stubble.

  20. It’s hard to know what to do these days , I must admit smooth balls are more fun to play with than very hairy ones .. Still nice hairy trimmed pubes are hot as is a trimmed chest rug .. Not a fan of shaved legs , but they do look good on certain guys ..
    It’s a personal thing , but I love rubbing my hands through a nice hairy chest ..

    • Alexandre

      Do not shave. I thought I would be a man when I grew hair on my chest. Only grew a few. Not enough to even notice. I’ve talked to men who have a healthy growth of chest hair and they say it is hot in summer. Still I would like to have more than I have.

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