• U.S.

Shaving the Body, Fantastic

3 minute read
Joel Stein

While others continue to pray for peace in East Timor or for Britney Spears to turn 18, my prayers were answered last week when Andre Agassi shaved his chest. As if that weren’t news enough, I also found out that Green Bay Packers quarterback Bret Favre shaved his legs for the upcoming season. These are real men, men who have been knocked unconscious by 300-ft. linebackers and married women who starred in sitcoms that they had to pretend were funny. I did some research and found a survey by Coherent Medical Group that shows that 54% of women find excessive body hair the most bothersome male trait, while only 25% chose love handles. This made me happy, because while shaving my body seems kind of gross, I really hate working out.

You see, I’m kind of hairy. What others would call my waist, I call “the line of demarcation.” It marks the division between my normal torso and my fur-coated lower body, like some sort of poorly conceived Greek mythical creature. I tried getting rid of some of my body hair once before, when I first started getting chest hairs and would pluck them out. I stopped not because of the pain but because my chest began to look like Manuel Noriega’s face. A taut, muscular version of Noriega’s face.

My obsession with body hair, unlike most of my obsessions, actually began in a rare moment when I was thinking about people other than myself. Specifically, women. You see, the thing about me that I find most lamentable, besides my hairy butt, is that I’m attracted to the wrong things in women. My head is turned by fake breasts, dyed blond hair and the excessive makeup of female rodeo clowns. So I know I shouldn’t like the trend of women getting rid of nearly all their body hair. I really do believe that women’s body hair should be celebrated–not removed in some infantilizing and dehumanizing way. I just don’t want to celebrate it on anyone I’m dating.

But, apparently, society no longer expects me to take this high road. Not only is there a national chain of laser-hair-removal stores, called Vanishing Point, that runs an ad with a woman touching only a finger-sized part of her otherwise hairless body, but–I’ve completely forgotten the end of this sentence. I’m stuck on that “finger-sized part of her otherwise hairless body” part.

The body-shaving trend is so ubiquitous that it makes me think I don’t have a sickness at all but simply a desire to evolve (or as they like to say in Kansas, “create”) past my base animal nature. Maybe the days of Austin Powers are over, and Kim Basinger will leave that ape of a man she’s married to and run right into my baby-smooth chest. I mean that in the manliest way possible.

Perhaps our advancing society is telling me that my desires aren’t sick at all. In fact, they demonstrate how I think of women as people, instead of animalistic sexual toys. Body hair is a fortress between me and the person I love, a way of preventing me from getting to know and respect her as a person. It’s pathetic what I’ll say to get a woman to shave.

I hope there’s some way the subscription department can make sure my mother doesn’t get this week’s issue.

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