facial hair.

I’ve got a few questions to respond to right now, and I’m responding in the order they were received. Keep sending them in! I promise I’ll be addressing them soon.

Reader “Me” writes:

There has been a recent trend that men with a trimmed sort of 5 o’clock shadow are sexier than the ones that take the time to be clean shaven. From a female perspective, is this a fact, a trend, or something that will stick around for a while? If you wish, you can also combine this with the similar question of chest hair, is el-natural (alla Burt Reynolds sexy) or the more shaven, naked chest of the model picture you posted sexier? Simply curious.

Dear Me,

This is one of those questions that divides the community at large and can cause huge spitting fights between members of the same family. Perhaps one of the greatest questions of our time will always be thus: “Is facial or body hair ever sexy on a man?”

Of course I am going to avoid the political discussion that ensues when you discuss whether or not body hair is sexy on women — you’d have to get past the question of whether or not it is acceptable first.

But for men, you lucky beasts, we all know that facial hair is completely socially acceptable, except in the following situations:

– you work for a very stringent employer, such as the U.S. military or the border patrol.

– you can’t grow enough facial hair to merit a 5 o’clock shadow and instead you just look vaguely fuzzy.

Other than those few controls, it’s anyone’s game.

But let’s take a look at the interconnectedness of body hair and fashion over the years…

– 1970s: Burt Reynolds in “Smokey and the Bandit”. Mustache. Sideburns. Chest hair. Burly. Apparently considered sexy.

– 1980s: Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer in “Top Gun”. Aerodynamic, hairless (homoerotic) masterpieces.

– 1990s: Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. Grungy, unshaven, long-haired, skinny musicians.

– 2000s: The Space Age. Or our attempt at it. Almost no hair anywhere on anyone. The Brazilian becomes normal. Steve Carell gets a chest wax in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”.

What I’m trying to demonstrate in my poorly-defined timeline here is that desires on facial hair have swung back and forth like a pendulum over the years. Hair on the face and chest seems to denote a kind of uber masculinity, and I think can also be seen as a kind of rebellion against the status quo. Dudes with beards aren’t following the rules, which is perhaps why you see so many of them in hipster culture. (Yes, I know, they have their own very stringent rules, but that is for another post.) (And yes, I realize that some men with beards are actually following other rules — like orthodox Jews or Muslims.)

What women think about this trend depends on the woman you ask. (I think a more interesting question is what gay men think about it, but I’d have to get a guest writer in for that.) I have several friends who love soft, luscious beards on a man, with plenty of chest hair. Other women swoon over a goatee or a five o’clock shadow.

I am not one of these women.

Personally, I despise the feeling of having my face scraped. From my experience, five o’clock shadow does just that. While it may make a man look more rough and gruff and cave mannish, for kissing, it might be the worst feeling I have ever experienced. I have a sensitive face. I get rug burn.

I’m sure there are many men in the world who feel the same way about having their faces scraped, which may be why they don’t shave very often.

I do adore a good sideburn, because I do have a wild streak in me. But it has to be a well-groomed sideburn. Nothing wild. Nothing out-of-control. I just want to know he cares about how he looks.
So let’s wrap this up a little. I’m going to give you a guide on what, in my experience, certain levels of facial hair attract in certain women. This way, you can decide what kind of woman you’re interested in attracting, and use your facial hair to your advantage.

Image: federico stevanin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Full beard/chest hair combo: Ladies who like this tend to fall into one of several categories — nature-lover, hippy, hipster, anti-establishment, or orthodox religious (Muslim, Jewish, possibly Christian). Having a beard can denote a fuck-all attitude in a guy, and a girl who likes a beard may just love that about a man.

Five o’clock shadow/trimmed body hair: Ladies who like this tend to like guys who are a little rough around the edges. I’m gonna’ stereotype a little and say they like a guy who can stay out ’til 3 in the morning and still go to work the next day, although he may be a little disheveled. Sure, he cleans up nice for major life events like weddings, but he has a slight devil-may-care attitude and perhaps a bit of mystery. I’ll admit: I like to look at a guy with a 5 o’clock shadow. As long as I don’t have to come into physical face-to-face contact with it, a nice shadow can give a man a rolled-out-of-bed feeling that is almost irresistible (until I consider how my poor cheeks will chap if I kiss him).

Clean shaven/no chest hair: Ladies who, like me, prefer this route may say that they love when a guy will take the time to do basic body maintenance.  Or they may say that they hate having their face scraped during heavy make out sessions (see above). They may also suffer the slings and arrows of people who call them pedophiles — “What, you like little boys with no hair?” (I have gotten this comment once or twice myself.) These girls may or may not be high maintenance themselves, so if you’re not into that kind of girl, watch out.

I’d like to hear some commentary from the other ladies on this… C’mon, girls, let him know what you think!


3 Responses to “facial hair.”

  1. 1 JayEm
    March 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Hmmm… where to start? First of all, there are certain places hair is just not sexy AT ALL:
    -neck (including the “neck beard”)
    So, men, once you get those things waxed, plucked or shaved, I think the rest of the hair really depends on what kind of person you are trying to attract or impress (see Kat’s article)

    Personally, I think side burns of any length are a must, unless of course, you have a shaved to the skin head. Chest hair… I think a lot of chest hair is kinda gross. Mostly because of the amount of shedding that could happen. Some or no chest hair is the way to go. Facial hair… I think that clean shaven is best on a boyfriend (because of the scratching issue). As far as the eye candy, i don’t mind a well groomed beard/mustache. However, I’m gonna generalize here and say that White men should not just have a mustache. It really needs to be a mustache/beard combo of just the beard… because it’s creepy.

    Now, there is an area I don’t think you mentioned… shich is the nether regions. Well, I’m not gonna mention those either, but I will mention the “happy trail”. This is the line of hair that goes from the belly button down into the pants. I think, on a man that does not have a beer gut, that this is very sexy… if you do have a beer gut though, it really only accents it. And if your whole belly is hairy, that’s kinda gross too.

    Thanks for all the advice Kat

  2. 2 Cold Milk Guy
    March 15, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Um, dearest advice columnist:

    What say you to post-2000 and pre-2010 CMG’s facial hair? I thought you liked that!!

    • March 15, 2010 at 4:01 pm

      my dear cold milk guy, of course i love how your facial hair looks. i think it complements your face quite well, in fact. but i’m not planning on burying my face in it anytime soon. 😉

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