Evolution missed a spot on my chest. Everywhere else on my body is only moderately hairy, but plumb in the middle of my chest is a lush thicket of hair. It’s thick, dark and long, and comes from a time after the Ice Age but before the domestication of sheep, when mankind had to grow their own wool. Nowadays my chest hair is a completely pointless exercise, a waste of time and energy, and good for nothing other than drawing a Superman-style ‘S’ while in the bath.
Body hair wasn’t always a bad thing for me. You see, a man’s first pubic hair is actually a cause for quiet celebration, a consolation for the squeaking in our voice and the massive white head in the middle of our forehead. Next comes a sprout or two under the arms, and we proudly begin spraying Axe deodorant – stolen from an older brother – on our entire upper bodies three times a day. Even the first few chest hairs aren’t that bad, when you can still see some skin between them. If only it had stopped there.
Hair today, none tomorrow
The problem with body hair is that it is so 20 years ago. Remember David Hasslehoff in Baywatch, with his luxuriant chest rug glistening damply in the morning sunlight as he ran through the shallow surf in slow motion? In his mind he looked manly, hot, virile even. In our minds we wondered if, once the cameras stopped rolling, he shook himself off like a poodle that’s just had a bath. We all know what David doesn’t – body hair is gross, and now there’s research to prove it. A recent survey conducted by a shaving company has revealed that only 12% of South African women find hairy men attractive. What the survey didn’t say, but that I am sure of, is that the 12% was made up almost entirely of women over the age of 60.
In our generation, in order to look manly, hot and virile, men’s bodies need to be as hairless as a baby’s butt. The problem is, we’re not growing any less body hair than we were 20 years ago, which leaves only one option: grooming. And if you’ve seen the chest waxing scene in The 40-year-old Virgin, you’ll know why that’s a problem. There were no special effects used in that scene, and the blood spouting from Steve Carell’s chest, while he screamed in agony, was real.
I realise that as metrosexual men we’re supposed to suck it up and get on with it, but what happens if you’re only semi-metro? If you’re happy to exfoliate but think that toners really don’t do anything, or you moisturise fairly often but couldn’t be bothered to do a hydrating mask? For the semi-metro, booking an appointment to go and have your chest waxed is not an option. Shaving it at home does nothing but make it grow thicker and longer, besides the fact that chest stubble looks stupid. Trimming it with a pair of nail scissors is time consuming and, because depth perception and mirrors never go well together, often leaves the chest rug looking like a patchwork quilt. There are days when I’m tempted to simply leave it to thrive, even if I have to set my alarm clock a little earlier in the morning to make time for some blow-drying after my shower.
And then I see my dad. Not only my dad, but any man of his generation who has never fought back against body hair, and simply let it grow where it will. See, if you leave body hair to its own devices, it won’t stop at your chest. Nose hairs grow quietly for years up near your sinuses before suddenly launching a group rush for your top lip. Ear hairs sit unnoticed for half your life before growing a centimetre overnight. Eyebrows abruptly launch straight out in front of you like carport awnings. This won’t do. I’ve never seen my dad get eye from anyone younger than 65. I wonder if there’s a salon somewhere that offers a chest wax under local anaesthetic?