The Sexist

Men: Give Me Your Grooming Habits


Since it seems to be body hair week here on the Sexist [Exhibit A, Exhibit B], it must be fate that I happened to catch Train's "Hey, Soul Sister" on the radio yesterday—didn't immediately switch the radio dial—and discovered that the song actually includes this lyric: "I'm so obsessed / my heart is bound to beat out my untrimmed chest."

"My untrimmed chest" is not the only ridiculous lyric in this song, of course: The tortured wordplay begins with "Your lipstick stains / on the front lobe of my left-side brains," continues through "Hey, soul sister / Ain't that Mister Mister on the radio," past that chest hair thing, and onto "So gangster, I'm so thug / You're the only one I'm dreaming of."

This song inspired me to do three things:

(a) Lobby for the use of the phrase "my untrimmed labia" in a Top-40 pop song;

(b) Respectfully request that alt-rockers never use the phrase "I'm so thug" again;

(b) Survey male Sexist readers on their grooming habits.

Last week, after the whole Vajazzling conversation blew open, Jill at Feministe asked her readers how they prepare their vaginas (there, I said it!). She received almost 200 comments from (mostly) female readers about how they shave, wax, trim, pluck, and bedazzle—or don't—their pubic areas.

But with all this focus on what us ladies do to get our vaginas closer to the current beauty ideal, I'm left wondering how much time and effort men actually spend managing their own body hair. Train seems to be suggesting that having an "untrimmed chest" is something to boast about these days. So. Fellas. Do you spend time cultivating your untrimmed chest? Shave your pubic hair? Wax your back? Propecia your chest? Have you been pressured by a partner to do so? Do you wish you could trim up, but feel like you'll be dismissed as overly feminine? Do you feel the need to adopt an aggressively heterosexual posture in order to feel comfortable engaging in the possibly girly realm of personal grooming?



  • Anonymous Feminist Fella

    For many years I've used clippers roughly once a week to trim back the hair under my arms. Starting maybe five years ago, every second time I've done that I've also trimmed back my pubes, plus depilating my butt about once a month. About a year ago --- coinciding with getting better clippers --- I've been trimming everything back. As I'm now 40 and have been living a bit of a "metrosexual" life (for want of a less unpleasant term for it) I couldn't say for sure how much this accelerating hair removal regimen reflects changing fashion and how much it's a result of me getting hairier as I get older.

  • Not a mouse

    Zilch. I tried shaving my armpits once to see what it was like, and it itched like hell as it grew back in. I've asked most of my former girlfriends if I should do something about my chest hair or that one hairy spot on my back, with responses ranging from "no" to "I actually like it" (about the chest hair, anyway). My current girlfriend of about 2 years was slight surprised when she recently realized that I *don't* trim my pubic hair, but because I don't enjoy fellatio she's never down there for it to affect her one way or the other. (She keeps hers just trimmed enough to stop the hair from tickling my nose.) I've thought about keeping my body hair a bit neater, but with no pressure from the people who actually see it, I have no real motivation to do so.

  • Anonymous

    Every few weeks I take a couple bottles of nair and get rid of back, shoulder, and chest hair, trim my underarm hair, trim my pubes, and trim/pluck my eyebrows slightly. Every week, I shave my head - to hide the male pattern baldness - and shave my face every other day. My partner recently got me a coupon for laser hair removal, so as soon as I can fit that in, I'm getting rid of the chest/back/shoulder hair.

    For the record, I think vajazzling is fucking ridiculous.

  • Alex

    I'm bi, 25, and about a 5 on a 1 (prepubescent) to 10 (gorilla) hirsuteness scale. I use clippers to keep my pits&pubes in the .5"-1" range, but otherwise nothing (my boyfriend likes my belly fur ;) If I had shoulder hair, I'd consider keeping that trimmed back, too.

    My boyfriend - gay, 23, and about a 2 (pits&pubes only) - is au naturale.

  • kza

    I've shaved my pubes once and it itched a A I never did it again. I just cut it when it when my girlfriend asks. That's pretty much the only hair I have besides my legs.

  • Dave

    For staters, I shave my face and neck every 2 or 3 days, like many men. I enjoy a bit of stubble, and my neck only tolerates a blade a couple times a week without getting irritated. For body hair, I trim my pubes down, including the undercarraige. In addition, I shave my shaft and balls bi-weekly, or if I'm expecting a lot of attention in that area. In the summertime, I also pluck the ring of hairs that grows around my nipples, but that's more for looking good poolside than pleasing my partner.

  • David

    I shave my chest occasionally, not that I have all that much hair there to begin with. As for "down there" I usually use scissors to keep it nice and trimmed (no one wants a jungle) and use a razor to keep away the happy trail, so it all looks nice and fairly well groomed on that rare occasion that another person is in the position to see.

  • Punning Pundit

    About 8 months ago, I got rid of the Goatee. I shave my face every couple days-- my face breaks out if I try to shave daily.

    I trim my pubic area every month or so. And I do try and remember to _always_ wear my glasses into the shower when I'm going to do that...

  • pmoney

    Punning Pundit,

    If you need glasses to shave your pubes you got bigger (or smaller) issues then a few extra hairs.

  • Flutterby

    Pmoney: you've apparently never tried on the glasses of someone with bad eyesight. Even if it wasn't that bad, would you really want to risk the tiniest mis-cut when chopping away around one's twig & berries?

  • Alcibiades

    I keep a short beard and short-ish head-hair, which is pretty much it. I'm not a very hairy person - none on my chest or back, frex. I used to trim my pubes, but stopped bothering when I realised that I didn't much care.

  • Leslie

    I'm female, but for ethnography's sake - I dated a Russian guy while I was living in Russia, and was secretly surprised at his completely bare underarms. I later asked around and was told that most university-educated 20-something Russian men shave their underarms. Having hairy ones is seen as lower-class and "unhygienic."

  • anon

    trim down below, trim the pits and the hairy nips.

  • Marty

    I had a goatee for 5 years until maybe 3 months, when I shaved it (to my partners dismay, somewhat). My facial hair grows very slowly, so usually go 4 days to a week without shaving and it still looks short.

    As far as body hair goes, I'm probably also a 2 on Alex's 1-10 body hair scale; no significant back, chest, or shoulder hair. Never trimmed my pubes or armpit hair, never shaved my legs. I'd actually really like to try trimming everything down some time, but my current partner is a fan of hair and I have chosen to leave everything intact for her enjoyment. The one exception is the small amount of hair that grows around each of my nipples. Those have always sorta bugged me, and when the bugging gets to a certain unidentified threshold I pluck them. Probably once a month at the most.

  • Danny

    Dammit my comment got eaten (my ISPs fault, it managed to drop my connection during the instant I tried to submit my comment).

    Face: Shave once a week and I only keep a goatee with the sides going down at an angle instead of straight down for a little flair.

    Stomach, Back, Chest: Thankfully I don't have enough hair in those areas for them to be of concern.

    Head: I rock a Fro.

    Pubes: Shave once a week during my shower.

    Armpits: Hell No.

  • Claude

    1. I shave my face. Ladies, please don’t underestimate what a hassle this can be, especially if you get ingrown hairs and razor burn, as I do. A woman without makeup looks pretty much normal. A man without a shave looks pathetic, and maybe dangerous.
    2. I shave my armpits. It’s easier to clean, and easier to apply deodorant. I don’t keep my armpits always perfectly shaved, but I do it once every 5-10 days. My last girlfriend didn’t like it. She asked why I did it; I replied, “Well, why do you do it?” It just makes sense to me.
    3. I have some light hair (thankfully, not dense) around the base of my shaft, extending about 3cm distally. That’s gotta be shaved back, even though the thing, as a whole, doesn’t look hairy. It makes me cringe to think of a partner describing my dick as “hairy” to her girlfriends.
    4. I take a little off the top of the whole pubic area. Scissors or razor. It adds some visual appeal, and maybe length. It’s also a matter of comfort: Less heat, less sweat, less itching. I always maintain the pubic area, even when I’m not in a relationship.
    5. I shave my asscrack for hygiene and comfort. Ladies, you don’t know how lucky you are to not have to do this.
    6. I’ll shave my legs for a few months every year, usually in the summer. I’m a competitive cyclist. Part of the reason we do this can only by explained as “just culture” specific to cycling. (You don’t trust riding in a tight pack behind a guy with hairy legs. It says “novice”. He’s likely to crash and take you down.) Personally, I prefer shaved legs. They are easier to clean, easier to dry, and wounds heal faster, with less scarring. Girlfriends don’t like it. Girlfriends’ friends have commented on it, and speculated that it means I’m probably gay. (That hurt.) While some women have complimented my legs when shaved (“You have better legs than I do!”), I’d guess that they, personally, wouldn’t prefer a man with shaved legs.
    7. I’ve shaved my chest a few times, though never while in a relationship. It grows back so fast that it’s not worth maintaining.

  • Claude

    And my feelings about the whole matter of body hair management are that I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't. I try to find some equilibrium between personal preference and what other people think. So there.