The Future of Chesty McCheesecakes

Is this bad news for the president?

Thanks to Max for pointing out that chest hair may be making a comeback!

At least, over at Salon Tracy Clark-Flory is defending the hirsute and for that I say hurrah! Let the men look like men, says I!

I see a man with hair on his chest and I think (or rather feel, because this is where my rational, feminist brain checks out): You man, me Jane. It’s not that hairiness necessarily makes a man more attractive — please, no one run out for pectoral hair plugs — it’s that natural is sexy, and unvarnished maleness is incredibly erotic. To me, excessive hair removal signals an insecurity and uneasiness with our wild, primal selves. It’s anesthetized masculinity and lust — the total opposite of sensual.

The truth is that the male body in general gets a bad rap.

I agree with that, and I wonder about it.

I mean, in the end, it’s not really important — and yes, we are a society that is actually sick in our toxic obsession with the physical and the material — but there is a social consideration, here. Have clean chests been favored, recently, because our culture has become over-feminized or because it is under-matured?

That’s a good question. Our social behavior (and our values) seem to be suggest a devolving away from maturity and toward a collective case of arrested development that has all age-groups exhibiting the entertainment sensibilities, critical-thinking skills and moral giddiness of 14 year-olds.

Perhaps in a perpetually adolescent culture, we are less inclined to be comfortable with this…

…and more comfortable with this?

Does it all have to do with simply being products of our time?

When I was young, I had my posters of the clean-chested Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy up on the wall; I imagine hairless chests are non-threatening, in some way, at least to a 10 year old.

Later on, though, that Magnum picture looked pretty all-right to me. But I think in the end, I concur with Clark-Flory: just be natural. If you have chest hair, be okay with it. If you don’t, don’t worry about it. No plugs, please, and no waxing! The world would be a much healthier, happier place if we humans could climb down from each other’s backs about looks or possessions, that might help us to get off our own insecure backs a bit, too!

What about you, readers? What are your theories on why the clean-chested men have been in favor for so long?

Bush Creepy; Obama a Godling

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Rick

    Umm… what about shoulder hair? Just askin’…

    [Shoulder hair is sort of...well, here's the rule my friends and I have discussed: if you pat a guy on the back or shoulders, through a tee shirt, and it feels "fluffy"...that might be a lot of hair....-admin]

  • Mandy P.

    Not a fan of the Selleck. I’m just too young to appreciate his look, I think. But I do like rugged, very masculine looking men. Harrison Ford in his Indiana Jones days comes to mind.

    I do think you’ve hit on something with the feminization thing. Many women that I know want men to be more like women. I see scores of articles and “experts” openly discouraging and flat out showing disdain for traditional masculine characteristics in our little boys. Men are going to try and make themselves into what they think women find attractive. If we constantly send out messages that what we’re really looking for is feminine, men will adapt to that.

  • Andrew B

    Thank you for addressing this! I saw Weiner’s picture and thought–”Is he trying to attract WOMEN with that look?” I find the notion of smooth, hairless men to be creepy. It seems both effeminate and immature, and–if nothing else–it tells me that this well-paid public servant has too much free time on his hands. At the end of a hard week, what man has time or inclination for a Brazilian Wax?

  • momor

    Our society is obsessed with fashion and even the men have been sucked into it now. I agree that it is immaturity that has a person thinking they have to look a certain way to be OK – pretty much a middle/high school level of development I think.

    One only has to look at the ridiculous platform stilleto shoes that all the “cool” women are wearing to see how ridiculous fashion has become. It reminds me of the age old conversation: whining child “But everyone is doing it!” Laughing parent “If your friends jumped off a cliff would you jump too?” I see fashionista’s as a bunch of silly lemmings. I’m like the little peasant kid who isn’t afraid to point and call out “The Emperor has no clothes on!”

    I am convinced that most high fashion designers, and especially shoe designers, hate women. Why else would they make them look so ridiculous and pay through the nose for the priviledge?

  • Terrye

    When I was a kid I thought my Dad was Superman..literally. That is how big and strong I thought he was…once when I was about 6 years old I asked him why he did not have any hair on his chest..he looked at me and said “Hair won’t grow on steel little girl”.

    I never forgot that.

    [That's GREAT! -admin]

  • Brian A Cook

    I wouldn’t read too much into women who like clean-shaven male bodies. I don’t believe in some conspiracy theory to feminize men. Indeed, many women still like substantial musculatures. I believe that these women just like elegant and clean and youthful looks. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • Jen

    Geez, Elizabeth, did ya have to show the picture of the Congressman who shall go unmentioned?!? That photo makes me gag. I never, never want to see it again. I might have to disinfect my eyes.

    Selleck, on the other hand, is nothin’ but sexy. That’s what a man looks like.

  • Teresa

    Men looking effiminate and immature started in the 60s and continues. I agree the pic of the famous congressman is creepy.

  • SallyJune

    Tom Selleck! Always loved that guy!

  • LisaB

    My daughter, after completing the required “Men & Masculinity” course at the State University in which she attends, pointedly thanked me for marrying a manly man (chest hairs included). Something to be said about marrying a man in uniform ;)

  • Sgt. Mom

    Yes, yay for Tom Selleck – at least, ya can tell he’s a man at first glance, and not an adolescent boy!
    OTO, sometimes there’s just too much of a good thing on a guy – when cuddling up to him is like cuddling up to a 6-foot tall Brillo pad…

  • Greg

    Wow, here I thought you would find all this beefcakey flesh-gazing ungodly or something. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — seems like even the most devout conservative Christian bloggers will put their moral tenets aside when it comes to embarrassing Democrat politicos.

    [Why are you embarrassed? I'm not. None of these men are. Nothing embarrassing about a chest. And for your information, when a few conservatives got on Hillary once for showing a little (VERY little) cleavage, I defended Hillary and said there was nothing wrong with it and that she looked very nice. But assume away. You must know all about me, or "Conservative Christian Bloggers" or something :-) Obviously, we're not actual individuals -- we're all just automatons you can generalize about with complete accuracy. That's sure open-minded and "liberal" of you, isn't it? FYI, I'm not actually a conservative, as some of my more conservative readers will tell you. But people are allowed to disagree here -- no one has to conform to some caricature. I know, what a concept! admin]

  • gradchica

    A full back o’ hair may be a different story. Coming from the land of hairy Italian men in too-revealing bathing suits–aka New Jersey–there is sexy-hairy man and the “run for the hills! Big Foot is loose!” hairy man.

  • http://theanchoress ruby

    I work as a nurse and see plenty of men in the surgical area I work in. Rarely do I see a man that has waxed his chest or back. They all seem pretty normal. I do, however, see some creepy tatoos. Tom Selleck is very masculine. The congressman needs serious couch time.

  • kenneth

    I think people are reading way too much into psychology and masculine identity over the choice whether to remove body hair. I don’t wax or anything, but I take it down clean with a razor once a week. It’s not about “not wanting to look like a man.” It’s about wanting to look like a modern human! Lush body hair is part of my heritage I guess, but then so is nesting in trees and eating termites with a broken length of stick. I’m content to leave all of these things in the past. There’s also a practical consideration of comfort. Women who thing “real men” should stay hairy at any cost should be made to wear an angora sweater under their clothes 24 hours a day for a whole spring and summer. Then tell me how you like it. Another point is that equating hairless chests on men with feminization might not go over so well with the billion or two men in Asia who are mostly not hairy by nature.

    The simple answer to why the clean look caught on is bodybuilding. It used to be that “tough guys” in the movies just had to look “brawny.” Sometime in the 80s, bodybuilding culture mainstreamed into Hollywood. Now, any leading guy in an action role has to be ripped like a gladiator. Nobody wants to hide all that hard work with hair, for better or worse.

  • Sandra

    It’s been proven it is all the hormones that are being dumped into women… Women on birth control pills are NOT attracted to “manly” men.

    Fine with me, I like my men more mature, like Magnum, and less teen-aged yet to fully develop into men.

    Considering the situation, on the second guy, he was acting more like an immature teen, than a soon to be father at age 44.

  • Rebecca Balmes

    My husband is as manly as they come. He is also blonde, with thin hair. His chest has a small little patch of hair in the middle of his pecs, and that’s it. Fine with me! I like him the way he is.

    I think that’s the bigger point… people should make choices for their own grooming, like adults, and not judge others for their bodies (one way or the other), like adults.

  • Manny

    Do men actually plug chest hair? Hairless male chests look immature to me, but then again I’m a man and not gay. Jen in #7 is right. Weiner’s chest is gag material. He’s 46 years old and no chest hair? He obviously shaves. What a dork.

  • newton

    “I’m too sexy for my shirt,
    Too sexy for my shirt,
    So sexy it hurts!”

  • Kurt

    Of the three pics, the one of Obama is the one that bothers me the most. Selleck looks masculine and natural. The congressman probably shaves his chest, but at least he has some reasonably decent muscle definition in that picture–evidently he does work out some. The Obama pic, on the other hand, turns me off because the media tried to act like he was some stunning physical specimen who worked out a lot and was in great shape, but he just looks incredibly average in that picture–or at least the “leaner” side of average. He’s not fat, but he’s not muscular, either. As some bloggers remarked after that picture came out, he really looks like he has “man-boobs,” and I can’t imagine who finds that attractive.

  • FoolishMortal

    Well, I may as well get my 2 cents in. Mr. Selleck will always be #1 on my list of a man that exudes masculinity out of every pore. (He’s also a pretty darn good actor, too!) My father was as hairless as a baby and as a child I once asked him why he didn’t have any hair on his chest. His answer was, (and he was a devout Catholic, BTW) “I’m just farther up on the evolutionary scale.” Of course, I had no idea what that meant, but I accepted it as I did other things he said to me. It doesn’t really matter to me if a man has a hairy chest or not, I just accept them the way they are. I’m not as concerned with physical attributes as I am with what’s going on in a man’s head. JMHO! =:o]

  • Verushka

    No mention of the coinciding trend of hairless women? I don’t think there’s a woman I know under 25 or 30 who lets it grow anymore. It’s all-Brazilian, all-the-time. Maybe tiny landing strips of hair, or for the most natural, a tiny triangle, but that’s it. Far more common to have the pre-pubescent look.

    I think trends start for odd, possibly psychologically unhealthy reasons but then become mainstreamed and just don’t mean what they’re supposed to mean anymore. I.e., what was a strong statement 10 years ago is the norm now.

    I still can’t wrap my head around everyone and their mother having a tattoo, though.

  • honeybee

    Why have clean-chested men been fashionable for so long?

    The pornification of the culture and the prevalent gay aesthetic.

  • Maureen

    I like a little grass on the playground!! I feel sorry for the guys with none or too much – it really is a hard call, but with laser options, those with the gorilla look can tame it a wee bit. But at the end it is just looks – I would hate to think that I would pass some guy up because he had too little or too much hair.

  • TxTess

    I love westerns and 2 of my favorites are the “Sacketts” Trilogy and “Shadow Riders”. Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot are an awesome combo in looks and character not to mention their voices. In “Shadow Riders” the relationship between Katherine Ross (not sure of her name, but the lucky lady is married to Sam Elliot) and Sam Elliot is great. I am really glad to see Tom back on TV. I like the way the Reagan family works together especially around the dinner table.

  • Jeanie Ader

    I don’t care for totally bare chests, even on my biggest idol – Tom Selleck. It just seems a bit pre-pubescent and wrong to me. It even felt that way when I was a teen. Give me a guy with some years and something to talk about. Better yet, just give me Tom Selleck for an evening of dinner and conversation.

  • cathyf

    Maybe it’s because I’m a geek, married to a geek, everyone I know is pretty much a geek, but in my experience it’s a pretty big stretch getting a man to even notice his appearance enough to occasionally comb the hair on his head. I know that if you showed those two pics-of-pecs to my hubby, and then took them away, and then asked, “Which one had chest hair?” the answer would be something like, “Huh? Chest hair?”

  • dry valleys

    I have quite a lot of chest hair, and it’s never entered my head that I might shave, nor has any woman ever told me she would like me more if I did.

    Have you ever seen one of these pictures of Vladimir Putin doing his he-man acts? Apparently it goes down well amongst the Russian public. Though myself, I can’t help thinking treating people like human beings instead of crushing them beneath the heel of the authorities is more attractive.

  • Marginally embarassed

    Och, and a gentleman is wearing something like a button-down or polo shirt, and at an angle one can see just a hint of chest hair, and then one can *imagine* – for just a brief moment! Not intentionally! I swear! – *imagine* a gentleman shirtless?

    Oh my.

  • dry valleys

    You often see fat, shirtless men walking the streets where I live. It’s rearkable how red and generally repulsive they are. Even I would look better if I took my top off, which I wouldn’t do in public anyway.

  • TXRed

    I think Kenneth has part of the answer. The early bodybuilders tried to look like the Greek ideal of masculine form, and Greek statues only have hair on their heads, not their pecs. Plus it was easier to judge muscles in a contest if the skin was not be-furred. From there male shaving/waxing moved into the movies and TV (cough *Conan* cough). I suspect that the emphasis on youth in some parts of the gay male subculture contributed to the trend in fashion, which showed up in advertising. So the urge to defur came from both ends of the masculine spectrum – the “manly men” flexing their pecs and the “gay caballeros” of Fire Island.

  • Brian A Cook

    *sigh* Let’s just allow some young women enjoy youthful and elegant male looks, okay? I’m out of this thread.

  • Carrie

    This is not a modest blog entry and certainly the discussion is not modest. We are supposed to be an example not a part of the morality problem. Looking at men or women as sexy objects is most distateful! This entry should be removed!

    [I never listen to people who tell me what my blog should or should not have on it. Thanks, though. -admin]

  • tim maguire

    And for those of us who look like we shave even though we don’t? You say no hair plugs, but it seems the alternative is to get accused of being unmanly because we shave.