Not Wild About Hairy

By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 12, 2007

Spring, and a young man's thoughts turn to . . . chest hair.

Also, that of the back, the belly, the shoulder and maybe regions farther south. It turns out that there is a hair-removal waxing procedure called the "Boy-zilian," the male equivalent of the Brazilian bikini wax, for which you would have to put your ankle behind your head in order to do it yourself, and we never want to think about that again.

Back north.

Your chest, back, shoulders. Summer beckons. The pool, the beach. Skin revealed. Worries: Slack gut, man-boobs, back fur, being regarded as a metrosexual. You don't want to be prissy (unless you're into that), and yet you don't want to be so hirsute that some guy comes up to you at the pool, going: "Burt? Burt Reynolds?"

"Body hair is a major category of what guys worry about," says Glenn O'Brien, author of "The Style Guy" and a column by that title for GQ magazine. "It's in the realm of 'What color socks match my shoes and pants?' I could write a column on it every month."

Guydom, manhood, it's all different now. The range of socially acceptable grooming keeps expanding, like the universe. Facial washes, toner, skin cream. Wear an earring? Sports watch, dress watch? A good cologne, no split ends, check the nasal hair, SPF 15.

And now, body hair. It's not entirely serious, but it's not entirely flip, either. Guys used to attract women with their confidence, muscle, power, fearlessness. Now you've got to have a position on shoulder sprigs.

"We have about seven or eight gentlemen come in every day for back waxing," says Jodi Ross, assistant manager at the Grooming Lounge, a high-end salon for men in downtown Washington. "There are fewer who request chest waxing, but there's a definite interest there as well."

You might be thinking this is a fad. One of those alleged trends like feminists burning their bras back in the day, back when women wanted to be like men, or maybe like the mullet haircuts on guys in the 1980s. (And since then, in your less fashion-forward areas.) Maybe some silliness for jocks, swimmers, celebrities, LL Cool J, Daniel Craig, David Beckham, Michael Phelps, the Rock; yeah, sure, but not the guy next to you at the Nats game.

This is not so.

Consider: Last May, Philips Norelco rolled out the $34.99 Bodygroom BG 2020, a shaver designed to trim or shave body hair. "It blew our sales projections out of the water," says Shannon Jenest, a spokeswoman for the company. "It took off in ways we couldn't imagine. We tripled our original forecast by the end of the year."

Or: Men's Health, a magazine aimed at working guys who work out, has had exactly two guys with chest hair on the cover in the last 17 years, according to Brian Boyé, the magazine's fashion and grooming editor.


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