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There is nothing to do today, so I thought I would talk about my chest. My recent attempt at shaving makes me think a lot about hair, or more precise, the lack of it.

I associate hair with strength and positive masculinity. For me, hairy gentleman fall into the common category ‘cute’ and on the whole men look better with chest hair than not.  Thanks to the “Bears”, I belong to a group who see hair as something beautiful.

This doesn’t seem to be the majority opinion. I get the impression women in general are not keen on a hairy chest. They are fond of beards even less. Last week when I shaved, the majority of ‘positive feedback’ was from the ladies. They thought I looked better sans whiskers (that means without).

Straight men seem neutral on chest hair – it just ‘is’, but they don’t like facial hair. Goatees are acceptable, but never beards.  Hair is associated  with “Undesirables” – “Terrorists”, Foreigners in general, Bikers, and of course Homosexuals. I’m told having a beard is the death knell in the corporate world.

Gay men are mixed on the matter. Younger fellows (AKA the Twinks) tend to shave their chest, frequently, as women shave their legs and armpits.  My younger gay patients let out they think chest hair is ‘gross’ and associate it with being old and ugly.  I suspect they will change their tune as they age. When I was their age I was very eager to sprout fur, hoping it made me look less wimpy.

Still, it intrigues me how society is wary of being hairy. So when did something so naturally masculine become a negative?

An intriguing thought – straight men tend to despise us, then they imitate us. We start vogues like bandanas, ear rings, jewelry before they go mainstream.  Will beards and hairy chests soon follow?

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September 2010

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