Ask a Lady: A modern woman's perspective on male body hair

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ask a Lady is a new monthly column on Indochino Review

A bit of background

Women love men with great haircuts. See how crazy we all are for Leonardo Dicaprio as The Great Gatsby? This is why most men think that when they figure out the perfect hairdo, they have nothing to worry about. And for the average male out there, this seems to be true. The majority of women do not expect men to be particularly bothered with body hair grooming. A few years ago, as long as a man has had a shower and wore clean clothes, his appearance would be considered decent. But then, a shift happened. 

It must have been 1994, around the time that Mark Simpson used the term “Metrosexual” for the first time, in one of his articles for The Independent. Simpson had identified a category of men who were single, interested in fashion and with a high income that they were willing to invest on their appearance. Naturally, the fashion industry has spotted this target group even earlier on. And the crazy marketing started, to convince men that they need -no, that they have the right to use!- all the beauty products that the ladies used. And since men are not immune to marketing, many of them started using specialized body products to improve their appearance and increase their sex appeal. Many started experimenting with their body hair, trying out a bit of trimming and some of them taking the leap to complete waxing. But how do women feel about it all?

Women's perspective

The face
We do hate it when our man takes more time to get ready than we do. This is a fact. But even the most laid-back ladies out there do appreciate a well-groomed lad. No matter how much your girlfriend insists that she likes your natural approach to hair -aka tangled locks and hairy back- there is something irresistible about a man in a well-fitted suit with a neat haircut and a well-shaped beard. Women do acknowledge and appreciate the effort, when they see it. After all, we have been expected to pluck our eyebrows for ages! So, if you feel the urge to let your beard grow, be warned that you should tame it occasionally. And if it is a mustache you crave, then do yourself a favor and get a comb, a good moisturizer and some wax. 

The neck
Let's move downwards, to the neck. If you are so hairy, that the back of your neck is covered with hair and you cannot tell where your facial hair stops and chest hair begins, you do need an intervention. Waxing is the best solution. It does hurt -as thousands of women can assure you- but it does not itch when your hair grows back. Of course, you can always choose to stay natural, but keep in mind this wonderful silk shirt that you just bought can end up looking cheap, rather than classy, if there is a bunch of hair coming out of the collar. 

Chest and Back
When it comes to the back area, most women feel the same way: not desirable. Of course, a stray hair here and there is much different than a duvet-like layer. If you look like a wet bear when getting out of the shower, you might want to consider waxing. As for the chest area, women are much more forgiving. So,chest hair is ok, back hair is a no-no. It does not make sense and it is not natural, but it is a matter of aesthetics. Period.

Limbs and in-betweens
As for legs and arms, the vast majority of women have no issues with hair that grows there. So you can leave your poor limbs alone and be confident that it won't cost you a date. When it comes to armpits, most women find that if they are completely shaved, they look a bit too feminine and prefer a trimmed look for their man. Keep in mind though, that there are women who love men that are shaved all-over, like male models or athletes. If your date or partner belongs to this category, she will probably let you know with a hint or two. And since we talk about legs, let's talk about what hangs in-between them as well. One word: trimming. It keeps sweating under control but it does not give you that porn star look, that might be a bit overwhelming. 

In short, both men and women are being pressured by the fashion industry to follow specific trends and this includes body hair grooming. If you decide to play this game, do what you would do with clothes trends: do not try and adopt a style that you cannot pull of, because you will feel ridiculous instead of gorgeous and that is definitely not attractive.