It started some years ago, when a female reporter in Ann Arbor, MI was doing research on a piece on Brazilian waxes. She couldn’t find non-geriatric men to give her an opinion on whether or not they found waxing sexy or not. Her editor contacted me, because he knew I no problem shooting my mouth off. The gist of my response was, that while hair or no hair didn’t mean all that much, it was kind of sexy to see trimmed or waxed regions because you knew the woman had thought about showing it to you. The woman had prepared for this moment.

Since then I’ve been wondering – does it work the other way around? Do women appreciate a good shave…down there?


And what about all the other hair elsewhere?

I grew up in a time when men left their shirts open, sometimes down to the navel, to show just how much hair they had. “A real man has chest on his hair,” I heard more than once as a boy, and my friends and I monitored our progress. Chest hair proved a man’s masculinity and virility, and it seemed to grow on a stem growing right out of their crotch. Like a flower of sexual power, like an extension of the pubes, it bloomed for everyone to see.

Well, those times are over. If the movies and of the past decades are any indication – from Terminator movies to Sylvester Stallone vehicles, to the more recent crop of 300, Avatar, and yes, Tooth Fairy – male stars shave as often and thoroughly as Nicole Kidman and Lindsay Lohan. And shaving seems not only a tribute to stardom – the men I worked with at a running store man-scaped extensively (though I never heard their girlfriends and wives comment on that).

The last leading man I can remember is Pierce Brosnan, whose chest mat was neatly trimmed and coiffed. Even so, it cost him his job and the new Bond Daniel Craig is as naked as a 12-year-old.

My question to everyone out there, then, is – is man-scaping attractive? Crotch only? Chest, belly, and crotch? Does hair make men look dirty or does it make men old? (I couldn’t help but notice that in Battlestar Galactica all young men are hairless, and the old men show lots of bristles). Is hair annoying or just uncool? Do men really care how hairless their female or male lovers are? What are the standards? And how to deal with day-after bristles? Is Gerard Butler really shaving his chest every morning with a pink Schick so he won’t turn into a cocklebur? Or is waxing the new shaving even for men?

Oh please, do answer!

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STEFAN KIESBYE is the author of Next Door Lived A Girl. His second novel was recently published by Tropen/Klett-Cotta Verlag in Germany; the American edition, titled Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone will be released by Viking/Penguin in 2012. Stefan lives in Los Angeles with his wife Sanaz and their dogs Dunkin and Nozomi.

63 responses to “Brazilians and Man-Scapes — The Hairy Details on Shaved Parts”

  1. Anon says:

    Ha! I have an excessive amount of Sicilian in my genetic makeup so, while my scalp is registered with the FAA as a potential hazard for low-flying aircraft, the rest of me is… um…. Well, let’s just say I don’t get cold real often. For the sake of some ink, I had to shave a landing strip here and there but I had never really considered making any further changes than that.

    Then I got a vasectomy and had to provide a clear field of fire for the surgeon. And, um, it felt kinda good. Like, really good. And, while my wife was a little freaked by the concept (we’ve been together since our teens and she doesn’t adapt well to change, poor thing), she was definitely appreciative of the new look. So much so that, a few weeks later, she started dabbling herself.

    I’m still rather fond of my hirsute torso but am now a permanent fan of clearing out the underbrush.

    • Stefan Kiesbye says:

      what did you do about the legs?

      • Anon says:

        Not a damned thing. They’re not exactly shaggy to begin with so the contrast doesn’t appear all that drastic. I suppose I might consider doing something more if I ever reach “silverback” stage but, for now, I’m content.

  2. Phat B says:

    I can’t speak for the ladies, but in my part of town, if you’re shaving anything other than your face you better be an Olympic swimming champion. You can trim the hedges for shape and fire safety in the dry season, but removing the hedges is for porn stars and Olympic swimmers.

    • Anon says:

      The downside to non-clinical terms is you don’t always know whether to disagree. I’m not a fan of the hairless chihuahua look – I put too much effort into getting through puberty to shave myself back to skin – but, I’m sorry, the whole five o’clock shadow thing has a lot going for it

      • Richard Cox says:

        Isn’t below-the-belt trimming sort of the standard these days for men? I confess I don’t have a lot of data to back me up outside of porn, but isn’t “hot dog poking out of the jungle underbrush” the look of yesteryear?

        With regard to chest hair, I’ve always preferred the trimmed look to the curly tangles I was cursed with. But not so long ago a woman convinced me to try shaving it off, and it wasn’t altogether bad. I’m not a big fan of the Tom Selleck look. And I do swim faster.

        • Stefan Kiesbye says:

          Yeah, curly tangles can look very much like the old guys at the swimming pool. But i always wondered, how a not-so-hairy or even bald chest goes with hairy legs, which most men possess. Once you shave one part, don’t you have to shave it all?

        • Richard Cox says:

          The hair on my legs isn’t that dark. I don’t really notice the contrast, though I understand what you mean.

          And as far as the waxing goes, for your back anyway, get yourself a good buzz going and it’s not so painful. Hahaha.

        • Anon says:

          See, I guess I’m a holdout. I like the hairy chest thing. Probably because my wife does as well – she’ll actually run her fingers through it and give me a playful tug now and again. Plus, you know, it gives my 14-month-old something to hang onto when I’m shirtless. He’s like a little koala or something….

        • Richard Cox says:

          Well, I had to be talked into the chest thing. I may grow it out again. Or maybe I’ll set phasers to stun and be done with it altogether. The jury’s still out.

        • Stefan Kiesbye says:

          yeah, I think I know what you mean. I still can’t get used to all the hairlessness, chest-wise, around me.

  3. Irene Zion says:

    I read this, but I simply cannot bring myself to comment.

  4. I’ve never been a particularly hairy guy – and, honestly, I’ve always been curious about going the 40 Year Old Virgin route and going the full body wax. I was once challenged to get the Brazilian wax by a female friend, but it never panned out (I was a student and broke at the time). I spoke to a guy who’d had it done. He winced as he described it.

    Have you seen K-Dub’s doco, Why We Wax? She’s the perfect girl to weigh in on this discussion.

  5. Stefan Kiesbye says:

    No I haven’t seen it. Full body wax sounds extremely painful. I guess it was Steve Carrell’s real chest hair, and that just looked HORRIBLY painful.

  6. Whoa. Talk about SSE. I was doing a post on men at spas while you posted concerning man-scaping. Eeeeeerie.

    I groom. Not so much shave as trim. I generally don’t shave, in fact, because of the bumps and etc.

    I recently went with a friend to a Manhattan pier where there was a large population sample of shirtless men, most whom were both smooth and gay. I asked my friend about it later (like I said, I have some hair); she told me it varied by girl, but most don’t mind so long as it ain’t back hair, which is apparently the deal-breaker.

    • Stefan Kiesbye says:

      Yeah, that is strange, Will. And from experience, I agree. Back hair seems to be the no-no. But I wonder sometimes, what the media and fashion are giving us, and what we really prefer. I mean, when you watch billboards, you could think, every man prefers waifish, bland-looking women, and every woman would want a super-hulking dude. Which, when I look at the taste of friends and acquaintances is far from the truth.

  7. Angela Tung says:

    when i was younger, i was into hairless guys (except the legs), but now i like some on the chest and other areas that will go unmentioned. i agree that overly groomed look is best left to the gays.

    ditto too re: back and neck hair. last thing you want to see is a carpet creeping out the back of a guy’s collar.

  8. Greg Olear says:

    Like Simon says (hahaha), I defer to K-Dub on this question…Kimberly, perhaps a sequel? Why We Wack or some such, about dudes?

  9. Why We Wack sounds like it would deal more with masturbation than grooming.

    I’m not saying that wouldn’t sell more copies. Just we should be aware of how and to whom we’re marketing.

  10. Amanda says:

    Hairy, please. Perhaps I’d draw the line at a backpack-shaped gorilla pelt that creeps over the shoulders and down the front. But…if there’s hair growing, then it ought to sprout where it may.

    • Stefan Kiesbye says:

      Backpack-shaped? That’s awesome!

      • Amanda says:

        The backpack…heh…yep…you can imagine the guy gripping the little padded straps that creep over his shoulders, and going for a big hairy hike…

        I would like to be clear, though, that a polite smattering of backhair is completely ok by me. I realise this is contrary to the proscribed opinion that ladies dislike any hair not located on the head or in the “entertainment district”, but when it comes to hair, I think there are plenty of misconceptions.

        Much like it’s simply not true that all men expect a lady to be Brazilianed up the wazoo, it’s likewise untrue that all ladies expect their gentlemen to be Ken-doll smooth.

        • Stefan Kiesbye says:

          Big hairy hike? Lol. I laugh this. Makes me think of Big Foot or the yeti.

          And about being Brazilianed up the wazoo — being from Europe, I still am at war with the eradication of the female arm-pit hair. Not that I’m propagating complete wilderness, but the nakedness there always looks, I don’t know, scraggly and stunted.

    • Reno J. Romero says:

      sprout where it may!


  11. Ducky Wilson says:

    Stefan, please do not wax down there. I’ve never understood the waxed look – it screams pedophilia to me. And it creeps me out when a guy wants me to be completely waxed.

    However, as someone who is sexually active, I do appreciate a nice trim.

    As for other hairs – I want to know why men are so obsessed with baldness when women don’t give a shit.

    And as for hair on the chest – for me, that is a bonus. Not a requirement, but I do love a good hairy chest, so please don’t wax this either. I used to have a friend who shaved his chest. I thought this was retarded. Then I realized he was retarded.

    • Anon says:

      Oo! Oo! I can actually provide information for a change!

      Unfortunately, I’m just one person and I think hangups by definition are pretty subjective so I won’t speak for “the community”. I lost my hair at a very young age – pre-20s, even – and was still dealing with an awful lot of typical insecurity, immaturity and stereotypical attitudes about virility, looking “old”, et cetera, ignoring all evidence to the contrary. Sadly, I caved into it, went with a rug (ugh – cringing just typing that) and wore it (read: “suffered with it”) for almost a decade before I had a massive “this is stupid” epiphany. My attititude, personal growth and quality of life skyrocketed once I dumped the ridiculous thing.

      Now I kind of dig it, except on those brutally cold winter days or when I eat spicy food (mortifying to doing a walking impression of Niagara Falls, without anything to catch your sweat). The only thing that regularly irks me is that I don’t have options. A guy with hair can change his style on a whim – length, color, where to part it, shaving it to be a “temp” – but me? “C’est moi” is a good attitude but I hate being stuck in a rut.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Ducky, I’ve discovered the opinions about this vary widely, and often these opinions seem surprisingly strong. Like, “men should only do this” or “men should only ever do that.” “This” is gross. Or it’s not. “I would NEVER date a guy who had this or that or whatever.” Et cetera.

      However, it seems when a girl meets someone she’s into, whatever he has turns out to be okay. Curly chest hair, trimmed chest hair, shaved, back hair, no back hair. There are dudes who shave their chest because they love their vanity more than themselves. There are other dudes who do it for a change of pace, or to rev up the motor of their lady friend who happens to enjoy the smoothness.

      You probably know before you ever see a guy’s chest if he’s retarded or not. And if he’s not, I bet you can convince him to grow out the hair for you.

      • Ducky Wilson says:

        Yes, indeed, Richard. Women (and men, no doubt) are specific about their tastes. There’s no accounting for it, either.

        But there does seem to be this weird obsession with youth that borderlines on pedophilia (especially men who want women shaved.)

        “It seems when a girl meets someone she’s into, whatever he has turns out to be okay.” Truer words were never spoken. At the end of the day, it’s about the total package, not one specific trait.

        • Stefan Kiesbye says:

          Agreed, although it’s hard to get past those initial pre-formed judgments. Like socks-in-sandals. That person could be lovely, but would you give them a chance to show that?

    • Stefan Kiesbye says:

      Pedophilia, that’s an interesting point. Often asked myself, if there’s a connection between shaving and “little-girl appearance.”

      About the baldness, it might be the obvious passing of time that’s important there. I mean, everybody sees changes in their body, but that one is so darn obvious.

      And no, I’m not going to shave my chest. I saw that episode of Seinfeld, back in the days….

  12. Reno J. Romero says:

    hell, despite the fact that i have long hair i am NOT a hairy dude by NATURE. light brown hairs on my arms, no chest hair, no back hair. i’m pleased about this. i don’t have to go into stores looking for wax and whatnot. under the belt? my mantra is just keep it clean, period. not bald, but clean. and not because it’s a fad, but for hygiene purposes. now, what about the girls? hmm. i agree with you enjoying that the woman THOUGHT of trimming her business. there is a certain naughtiness to it. hell, it’s a turn on.

    anyhow, this was funny. thatnks for the early morning laugh, stefan.

  13. I heard women were attracted to men with less hair on their torso because of some biological imperative that tells them these men are further removed from apes… But then I can’t remember where I heard that. Probably some baldie.

    • Becky says:

      Attracted to for what purpose? There’s a fair amount of evidence that cuckoldry played a significant role in human sexual evolution.

      Even nowadays the same woman will pick distinctly different types of men when posed with a question like, “What type of man would you want for a casual relationship,” versus “What type of man would you like to marry?”

      With this in mind, I could see–and this is purely speculation based on other things I know–a woman preferring a hairless male for a life-long mate, potentially with the evolutionary “reasoning” that such a man may have lower levels of testosterone and may, therefore, be less likely to stray.

      But in modern humans, these kinds of evolutionary principles are constantly mitigated and manipulated by social trends, too, so even if there is evidence that such a logic once applied, fashion may win out. Because, of course, we are evolved to be social creatures too, and part of that is staying up to speed with social trends.

      • Stefan Kiesbye says:

        Well put, Becky. Speaking of social trends — while a woman might have a fling with a wild and woolly male, back hair and all, would she present this man to her family as the future husband? I’m certain that socially difficult types might lose out, even when they are otherwise perfectly acceptable marriage material.

        • Becky says:

          Well, if they’re socially difficult ARE they acceptable marriage material? I mean, yes, of course, by our standards they still are in a way. But thinking from a distant historical perspective…if everyone in your little monkey troupe hates your “spouse,” and he holds no social status, no sway with other members, what good is he going to be at using that social environment to help care for you and yours?

          To an extent, I think the scenario continues to play out albeit in contemporary terms. Though yes, you’re also right on another account. “Socially unacceptable” by a certain contemporary yardstick may not put a person in jeopardy of being unable to hold a job or make friends. But in other cases, it might.

  14. Becky says:

    Can’t handle the total ape-man look. At the same time, I could not handle being with a man who did more shaving and waxing than I did.

    It would present a problem for me in principle.

    So, basically, I do not like my men too hairy, but I don’t want them primping themselves either, so if you’re a super hairy guy, just don’t ask me out. It’ll never work. Also probably because I’m married.

    But if I wasn’t married, I would ask men who are very hairy not to ask me out. To be totally honest, your body hair will probably gross me out and you’ll never get laid, and so neither will I, and everyone will just be miserable.

    And men who are not very hairy but shave anyway. You’re either vain or insecure, and I probably couldn’t stand to talk to you. You guys don’t ask me out, either.

    Pretty much, be naturally un-hairy or naturally lightly to moderately hairy, or don’t ask me out.

    That’s my official stance on manscaping. As for “down there” a little trimming and/or shaping, especially at times when sex is more likely than not, is appreciated. However, I will not be spending 80 or more a month on painful brazilian waxes “just in case,” so I don’t expect you to go around bald or with perfectly coiffed pubes, either. Will shave pits regularly year-round, legs regularly in the summer and less regularly in the winter, but I never let them get out of hand. (Though my leg hair is thin and blond enough not to get really out of hand in the sense that some hairy women’s legs do.)

    That’s the gist. I might make an exception for the waxing of a light-to-moderately hairy back. Hairy backs are yucky and unfortunate and no man afflicted in this way should be punished for it.

    • Stefan Kiesbye says:

      That narrows it down quite a bit. A propos of back hair. What is it really that makes it so yucky. I don’t like it much either, but why is it different from chest hair?

      • Richard Cox says:

        It has to do with propagating the genome.

      • Becky says:

        Back hair is a serious problem for me because I like man-back, usually. A lot. It’s a sexy thing.

        Let’s put it this way:

        A pile of shit is gross, but a pile of shit on the Mona Lisa is not only gross, it’s a goddamn shame.

        So it is with hair and man-back.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Not even a chuckle for the genome comment? Tough crowd.

          As an aside, if you wax your moderately hairy back for ten years, the hair follicles will eventually give up for the most part. Then you don’t have to do it anymore, or almost never.

        • Becky says:

          Well, no. It’s just that I have absolutely no righteous logic for my preferences. It doesn’t even make sense according to the argument I made earlier.

          In fact, preferring smooth-skinned, presumably less testosterone-laden men could actually be detrimental to my children’s (particularly my male children’s) reproductive success.

          I may be a dying mutation. Or maybe I am on the cutting edge of some new advance?

          In either case I don’t care. And I don’t care what a man is like on the inside or for any kind of holistic, nature-friendly, free-to-be-you-and-me kind of situation. If a man is covered in hair like a gorilla, I am just not interested. It’s not very PC, but it’s the way it is. Hairy mens of the world, I’m sorry. I’m sure you’re all very nice people.

        • Stefan Kiesbye says:

          my chuckle unfortunately didn’t make it below your response, Richard…see further down…

        • Stefan Kiesbye says:

          I think it has something to do with the “nest below”…at any rate, I appreciate your brutal honesty after discarding all your admirable science, Becky. I’m sure you’ll see many gorilla-haired men standing at your street corner soon, mumbling to themselves, exchanging razors…

        • Becky says:

          Oh naturally.

          They can make friends with the guys-who-walk-on-their-toes and guys-who-are-not-bald-or-balding-but-shave-their-heads-anyway contingents.

          I don’t know how the razors might help the toe-walkers, but I’m sure the faux-baldies would have a use for them.

          I tell you, it’s a regular rabble down there. Every once in a while, I have to chase them off with a hose. Otherwise the neighbors start to complain.

  15. Stefan Kiesbye says:


  16. Zara Potts says:

    Late to the party here, Stefan!
    I think men look strange with no hair on their body. I don’t want to be hairier than the man I’m with.
    I think guys should embrace their body hair. And don’t get me started on women….

    • Stefan Kiesbye says:

      Yes, late, but how beautiful! Good point, too. I actually don’t like complete hairlessness in women either…

  17. Amanda says:

    Extra extra late (I’m not even sure how I ended up here, honestly), but I thought I’d weigh in. I am a bisexual woman, and I love hair on both men and women. I really dislike the totally bald look, especially in the pubic region. It reminds me of children, and that is just not sexy!

    I trim my pubic and armpit hair. I’ve only recently (within the past 4 months) stopped shaving my armpit hair, and I love it. People do sometimes react badly to it, but I’ve decided that I just don’t care. It’s comfortable (plus, sweat dries faster so I’m drier and smell less)!! As for my legs, I shave them only when they’ll be seen by anyone except my significant other and close friends (same goes for bikini line- but only what shows outside of a modest bikini bottom). It’s really just because other people think it’s gross for women to have leg hair, and it really annoys me that society has so much sway over my behavior and appearance.

    I’ve dated both men and women from all points on the hair grooming spectrum. I can say from experience that it really does vary by person. Everyone has different preferences, and everyone has different ranges of hair lengths that they are indifferent about. To avoid way TMI, I’ll use my armpits as an example: some people think it’s totally gross that I don’t shave, some people wonder why I would even trim because they prefer it natural, some people think trimming is really hot, and some people (like my significant other) just don’t care at all.

    The way I see it, you should do with your hair what YOU like (perhaps taking your current significant other’s opinion into consideration), and everyone else can suck it.

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