- This Changes Everything
- I went a year without shaving. Here’s what I learned about myself, my body, and my relationship
- 19 reasons to be cheerful in 2019 – BBC Three
- [TrendTalk] 2015 was a hairy year
- Hairy Back Causes and Treatment: Shave, Wax, or Leave?
- Hairy back in women
- Hair removal creams
- Waxing at home
- Waxing at a salon
- Laser hair removal
- Don’t do anything
- GUYS WHO GET INTO HAIRY SITUATIONS MAY HAVE REASONS
- The GQ Guide to Male Body Grooming
- How to Manage Chest Hair
- Clean Up Your Neck
This Changes Everything
You have my permission to slap the next futurist (foresight thinker, scenario strategist, or trend-spotter) who uses the expression “this changes everything” seriously. Slap them hard. Maybe a shin-kick, too, if you're into it.
The notion that some new development — usually a technology, but not always — “changes everything” manages to combine the most uselessly banal and the most pointlessly wrong observations in the field.
At the top end, it's part of what I'm starting to call the “cinematic bias” in futurism: the need to describe future developments in ways that startle, titillate, and would probably look pretty cool on-screen.
Quite often, the items that fall into this category are simply impossible, or so implausible as to make me struggle to avoid lashing out with Dean Venture's infamous “I dare you to make less sense!” I'm not shocked when people from client companies offer up suggestions these — cinematic science fiction is the common language of futurism right now — but I'm boggled when I see people who get paid to do this for a living coming up with misfires “teleportation eases traffic problems!” or “population pressure solved by Moon colonies!”
Sometimes, it's not just implausibility, it's an unwillingness to deviate from The One True Future. Logic is irrelevant, except for the narrow conjectural pathway that leads the futurist from Point A to Point Stupid.
Complexity goes right out the window, as do any notions of co-evolution, competing drivers, mistakes, or push-back.
This is the kind of thinking that tells us that we don't need to worry about global warming/hunger/poverty/ocean acidification/resource depletion because NewTechnology will fix all of our problems, for ever and ever amen.
I'm not saying this pessimism, or even realism. It's I'm-not-trapped-with-my-head-up-my-posterier-ism.
At the opposite end of the “this changes everything” spectrum are those people who use this cognitive abortion of a phrase to describe something that might merit a page 14 mention in Widget Fancy. No, a new form of text messaging does not change everything. A new teen language trend does not change everything. And the latest update to an MP3 player most decidedly does not change everything.
You might think that the people offering up such exaggerated praise for minor developments are novice marketeers, trying on their big hyperbole pants for the first time. You'd be wrong.
More often, such an utterance comes from someone who should be paying attention to such things discovering a new toy or trend that half the people sitting around the table already knew about (most ly the underpaid under-30 interns & employees).
Simply put, saying that a new widget will “change everything” is just one step more articulate than holding up a napkin drawing and saying “ZOOM! WHOOSH! PEW PEW!”
What frustrates me most about the ascendence of the “this changes everything” meme is that its implicit opposite is “this changes nothing.
” Left out are the changes that really matter: the widgets and methods and practices and ideas that change the little parts of our lives, the everyday decisions, offering us new perspectives on old problems — not solving them with a wave of the hand, but letting us see new ways to grapple with old dilemmas.
This doesn't change everything — in the real world, it or not, we change everything. The longer we wait for magical technology or new MP3 players to do it for us, the sorrier we'll be.
« This Changes Everything | Main | Massively-Multiplayer Decepticon »
Adam Greenfield on America's rejection of the future.
For a long, long time thereafter, I’d sit in idle moments and wonder just when future shock was going to happen. In my childish conception, it was something that would happen all at once, be precipitated by some obvious event – the proverbial straw – and stand out just as vividly and obviously as an outbreak of the flu when it did roll across the land. It took me years to understand the words as pointing toward something more poetic and metaphoric than clinically diagnostic. It’s a thought I’ve had occasion to dig up and reconsider this last week. Because this is what I’ve come to understand: Here we are. This is it.
Adam Greenfield, Anti-Futurism, United States
I went a year without shaving. Here’s what I learned about myself, my body, and my relationship
I was standing on my front porch in a pair of shorts. My mother had shown up unannounced, which is not unusual, and was telling me some story. But then she looked at my legs, and my face went hot. “I haven't shaved in a while,” I said, trying to beat her to the punch.
The corners of her mouth inverted. “That's disgusting,” she said. I asked why, but I didn't get a discernable answer. She ended the conversation by saying, “That's OK. You can be that way.”
By “that way,” I assume she meant “filthy liberal.”
About six months earlier, I had pitched an idea to my at-the-time editor — I'd go a year without shaving, and write a personal essay about the experience. She seemed genuinely pleased with the idea, and I was pleased with myself.
Perhaps it was prematurely so.
About a month after making the pitch, my husband and I were watching TV in bed, probably The Voice or something equally terrible. I cuddled up to him, but he recoiled when my prickly legs brushed against him.
“When are you going to shave?” he demanded to know.
I hadn't told him yet. Honestly, I was nervous to. And given his visceral reaction when I declared my intentions, I think my trepidation was vindicated.
He curled up in a ball and cried, “No, no, no, no, no!”
I won't go into detail about the many less-than-kind comments he then spewed, but he did tell me several times that he is not attracted to men.
A month or so later I was sitting on the second floor of Detroit's Urban Bean Co. with a local artist who I was interviewing in advance of her first solo exhibit.
During the interview she looked me in the eye and said, so earnestly, “I don't wear makeup and I wish other women didn't either.” At that moment, I was wearing at least 12 different cosmetics on my face.
I was taken aback at the very direct criticism of my tendency to adhere to societal standards. I've always loved makeup. I vividly remember my first eyeshadow purchase: a bright blue shade bought from the Claire's store in my local mall. I'm sure it made me look Miss Piggy, but damn did I feel beautiful. So grown up!
I recouped pretty quickly though, and pulled up my pant leg. “I don't shave my legs,” I told her, and she gave me a chin-raise of approval and the interview carried on.
I don't remember the first time I shaved my legs, but I was probably around 12, maybe 11. I got my period around the same time — a terrifying incident during which I was sure I had somehow unknowingly shat myself. My mother had forbade me from using tampons or a razor, but the hell if I was going to listen to her.
At one point, I shaved everything from the shoulders down. It wasn't until I overheard my classmates deriding an older sister for shaving her forearms that I realized you're just supposed to hone in on certain areas.
I don't remember why I felt an overwhelming compulsion to shave, other than it was a thing you did when you grew up. I'm pretty sure I knew what sex was but really had no idea how it worked, logistically speaking, and I wouldn't have a boyfriend for at least four more years.
My point is there was no pressure from anyone in particular to shave, but I didn't just come up with the idea on my own. Merely existing in society had trained me to believe this was just a thing women did.
This is what you do, wearing pajamas to bed and brushing your teeth in the morning. At the time it didn't seem so much a burden as it did a privilege — a rite of passage into the fabled world of adulthood.
As ingrained and ubiquitous as the practice is (not just in America, but across the globe), the phenomenon of removing female body hair only really began a few generations ago. In fact, your great-grandmother probably didn't shave her legs.
According to an article titled “Caucasian female body hair and American culture” published in the Journal of American Culture in 1982, the trend began around 1915.
Of course, this is all a little less than scientific.
The author, Christine Hope, collected her data advertisements in Harper's Bazaar and McCall's, two publications that represented the upper and middle classes, respectively.
The early 20th century was a time of beauty evolution. Fashion was changing and soon the iconic flapper style would come into vogue — and with it the removal of underarm hair. Not surprisingly, the assault on leg hair followed soon afterward — and by the 1940s, Hope says, a “tanned, shapely, hairless leg was a thing of beauty.”
Mind you, this whole phenomenon appeared to be pushed largely by advertisements — Hope found only a few editorial mentions of body hair removal in these magazines.
Not surprisingly, these ads spun the idea of female body hair as uncleanly as well as unsightly, perpetuating the notion that a woman's body hair was dirty — while men's body hair was left the conversation entirely.
Of course, body hair removal is a trend that has ebbed and flowed since humans were still living in caves. Archeological evidence suggests that Neanderthals shaved with clam shells and rough-hewn tweezer made from flint stones.
They ly did this as a preventative measure, as wet hair against the skin accelerated the spread of frostbite. In ancient Egypt, people equated hairlessness with cleanliness, but this applied to men, women, and children — many shaved to the point of complete hairlessness.
The absurdity of it all was that they would also wear wigs and fake beards in order to protect their skin and signify class superiority.
So the only thing really unprecedented about this new, American era of body hair removal is that it's entirely sexist.
A day or so after I broke the news to my husband, he was still pouting about the whole thing. That evening we were standing in the kitchen and he insisted on learning the details of the deal I had made — was this an assignment? Did I pitch it? Why would I agree to this? Why?
Geez, you'd think this was his body I was experimenting on.
I conjured some contemplative statement — something about how we need to challenge the standards society sets forth, yadda yadda yadda.
That seemed to shake something loose in him and he smiled and whined, “But it's haaaaaard.”
The winter months passed easily. Living in Michigan, we perfect the art of layering clothing, and I dress pretty modestly: From late November through May I'm usually covered from the chin down. During that time, I had hardly any occasion to worry someone might spot my furry armpits or legs.
Then came spring, when my mother ambushed me on the front porch.
By then, my leg hair was in its full, bushy glory. Dark and wiry, it grew in thick between my knees and ankles. I was really surprised how much sprang up on my actual knee, but that it was largely invisible on my thighs.
I found myself looking at other people's legs — it was a warm spring and people were wearing shorts regularly. I compared my crop to theirs.
Most surprisingly, I noticed my father had almost no hair on his legs — a direct contrast to my husband, who has noticeable body hair even on the tops of his feet.
By that time, I was becoming more comfortable with the furriness. I'd walk the dog, go to yoga, and shop for groceries while wearing shorts and a tank top. If people noticed, they mostly didn't let on — although I did catch a woman dressed in nurse's scrubs staring at my legs at Trader Joe's once.
click to enlarge
That was the most uncomfortable part, really. My body hair had become this elephant in the room that no one would mention unless I brought it up first. My mother-in-law, who regularly saw me wearing shorts, never once asked what the hell was going on. I even asked my husband if she had perhaps privately inquired about why my legs were so hairy, but he said she never asked him anything.
That doesn't mean no one was saying anything about it. In fact, I had one particularly supportive friend who acted as my mole — reporting back to me what people said about it when I was earshot.
Her husband's reaction was similar to my husband's — a vitriolic rant about how repulsive my leg hair looked peeking my pant legs. This made absolutely no sense to me. Here was a man — who I have zero percent lihood of ever having a sexual relationship with — who had an obviously visceral opinion about my appearance, and was not shy about sharing it.
Perhaps without even realizing it, men seem to think women are just supposed to live in a state of appeasing them with our physical appearance. They generally prefer long hair — a fertility signifier — and a smooth, hairless body that denotes youthfulness.
Hope's article doesn't leave this important bit about body hair removal out. In fact, she cites a study in which people were asked to describe images of adult men and women.
For the most part, people described photographs of men as “very dominant,” “very independent,” and “very objective,” while women were described conversely — “very subjective,” “very dependent, “and not at all independent.”
She describes this phenomenon as the “tendency to think of adults as male and to lump women with non-adults” and thus, “Caucasian American women [are] supposed to manifest non-adult personality characteristic, [and] they also are expected to get rid of certain bodily signs of adulthood” — namely, body hair.
If you think I'm starting to sound a man-hater, feel free to call it you see it. I am married to a man who is largely wonderful — no matter how well he played the role of villain in this particular essay — and I have a son who I hope grows up to have a consequential understanding of consent, intersectional feminism, and equality.
However, the fact remains that men play a huge role in perpetuating this unrealistic beauty standard. Most women, around the world, give in to their demands daily.
Sure, plenty of women will think, “I shaving. I love having smooth legs.” And I get that. I was really frustrated with my own feelings of hideousness during this whole experiment, and the closer Shave Day got, the more excited I became.
I started collecting materials — a special (and expensive!) shave oil, pretty razors, and an electric trimmer made especially for women (meaning, it's pink).
I made some delicious smelling body scrub sugar and pumpkin pie spice and eagerly waited for the day to come.
And truthfully, I didn't even make it a whole year. I made it 11 months to the day.
I gave up because it began to feel futile and self-centered. In the face of a stream of tragedies in the news (including the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history), in the face of a world that seems on the brink of cataclysmic change, it started to feel maybe this one, familiar activity would bring me comfort.
On a Wednesday night, after putting my son to bed, I retreated into my 1950s-style blue-tiled bathroom and began what would be an hour-long procedure. I had imagined that I would emerge Venus being born from the sea in all of her feminine glory.
Instead, I felt I'd just been prepped for an operation. The whole thing felt so clinical, a sterilization. When it was done I still looked me, but with a lot of knicks where my body hair used to be.
click to enlarge
That night, I waited on the couch for my husband to get home from school. I wore a pair of shorts and draped myself longways across our sectional. When he got home he looked at me, annoyed, and waited for me to move so he could sit down too.
He didn't notice my legs for five days.
In the first week or two I shaved during every shower, hoping to keep up the hairless illusion — despite the fact that the cat was long the bag — but I have become more lazy now. My armpit hair is growing back a bit and I find myself OK with it.
I will say, pedicures have become vastly less embarrassing, and I don't worry about the yoga assistant accidentally touching my pit hair while adjusting me.
I never noticed the feeling of anxiety I had about people spotting my body hair until it was gone.
But now that it is, I'm just as responsible as every other woman for complying with this misogynistic beauty standard that seeks to rob us of our adulthood.
The pressure to conform was, at times, immense. In 11 months I never saw another woman with fully grown body hair. It was hard to feel so “other” and there were times when I felt outright embarrassed by my natural body. I never attained any sort of body image enlightenment. I was just me, complete with all of my other bodily flaws, but a version that society found even less attractive.
So, regardless of his self-serving whininess, my husband was right. It is hard.
19 reasons to be cheerful in 2019 – BBC Three
We’re officially one month into 2019 and we’ve got to admit it’s been a little dampened by – brain, don’t say it – er, yeah, politics (don’t mention the 'B' word).
Let’s face it, the mornings are actually getting lighter (yes, really) and there are plenty of reasons to smile. A whole 19 reasons – in fact. Here they are…
Correction: it was a notoriously excluding industry. Thanks to some badass trailblazers, the face of the fashion industry is changing for the better in 2019.
Take Aaron Philip – she is a disabled, gender-fluid teenage model who was signed to an agency late last year.
i’m signed to @elitenyc! thank you so much for supporting me thru my journey to make the fashion world more inclusive. this hasn’t been easy, but we did it! i’m so excited & grateful to work hard and share this new chapter of my life with you all ❤️
[TrendTalk] 2015 was a hairy year
From manbuns to nutscaping, political meltdowns and economic downturns, The Donald Trump reality show, global terrorism and war, 2015 was a challenging year, to put it mildly. But it was also the source of much social media merriment and the slaughtering of holy cows. At least we still have bacon. Oh wait…
As we start the New Year full of hope and optimism (try), it's always good to reflect, dear readers, on the year that was (cue Llamas, The Dress, clip-on man buns); and what we don't really want to see again (clip on man buns, colourblind dresses), what we would to change and what we are looking forward to in 2016…2015 was a hairy year. Literally. There is nothing that defines the hipster, organic, authentic space more than the beard (apart from these buzzwords). Beards came in all shapes and sizes. And the hairy horrors didn't stop there unfortunately.
All that glitters: Beards came with Glitter and Christmas decorations this year, to celebrate Christmas and the holiday season.
But it seems to be their last hurrah, as even The Guardian predicts that beards will be hair today, gone tomorrow, as the trend wanes.
But for those of you die hard facial follicle fans, here's a video instruction on how to glitter your beard for special occasions from stars The Gay Beards, including all their glitter beard faves from this past holiday season… Sparkle y'all!
Mullet of the moment: I the bearded he-man lumberjack look as much as the next girl, but man buns? No. It's the mullet of this century and as indefensible. And 'clip-on' man buns? That's as cheap as a bad 80s perm. “A grooming trend too far” as The Telegraph pegs it.
Big, hairy balls to 2015! So, here's a chance to reflect on the year you would to have, on the contribution you will make to humanity and a better society. Please let it not be “nutscaping”. That this is a 'thing' doesn't bare contemplating for a single second. How is it even possible? There are things one just can't unsee.
But apart from this aberration, this is actually what people talked about in 2015: Google's 'Year in Search' is now a regular thing and this short film was made for 2015 by Los Angeles ad agency 72andSunny and Google's head of brand creative Michael Tabtabai, in a moving collaboration to remind us of some of the important stories of 2015. Stories that dominated 2015 throughout the year included the global refugee crisis; the almost daily mass shootings in America; #BlackLivesMatter campaign against the shooting of unarmed black civilians in the United States; and the American Presidential race.
#Hashtag uprising: The hashtag has really came into its own in the past few years as a rallying point for various movements, social causes and as a way to express solidarity with an issue.
Locally of course, South Africa also saw the beginning of our 'hashtag revolutions' #FeesMustFall and #ZumaMustFall.
The hashtag will continue to be a rallying cry for many in 2016, as well as humorous interludes, the things that keep us sane when the rest of the world seems to be going insane.
Even the respected Fast Company magazine writes that we demonstrated our humanity in our googling, rather than just our fascination for the weird, obscure and silly, celebrity world. Yes, LOL Cats featured, but so did social causes.
Bringing home the bacon: One of the most discussed pieces of research released in 2015 was the one that said bacon and other processed meats can cause cancer. Social media exploded in uproar: “I'd rather have a short life with bacon, than a long life of misery and lentils,” read a lament on NewsThump. I concurred in my ode to the joy of bacon last year. Viva bacon viva! Long live!
Merry Christmas: What did Santa bring you for Christmas? If it was socks, I hope it was Netflix socks.
Boring 'dad gifts' will never be the same again with this invention: Netflix socks that pause the show you are watching if you fall asleep! Given that Netflix has just launched into South Africa this week, it's a gift to get dad for Father's Day this year! Only problem is, there's a bit of knitting and assembly involved.
Best colouring book, , ever: If me, swearing is your first language, this will go onto your future gift wish list. I would have d this for Christmas, to doodle in on 'those' days. This cursing colouring book by illustrator Sarah Bigwood contains some of the most satisfying curse words to doodle on and colour in. F*cking brilliant indeed.
Top marketing word of the year: As 'snackable' content becomes another marketing category for Boardroom Bingo, 'listicles' will proliferate. We sure do our lists. For more Google lists on absolutely every subject, click here.
Best social media campaign: Groupon nailed it with their social media team's response to their rather racy new product, the Banana Bunker. Given its rather obvious shape, the comment section on its daily deals earlier this year went a bit nuts. But it was the poker-faced response from Groupon's social media team that won the internet in 2015.
Quote of the Year: Half of new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet ministers are women. When a reporter asked him why, he said, “Because it's 2015.”
Best word of 2015: Adult; adulting. As in “I can't adult today. I am not adulting, I want to be a cat instead.”
Tweet of the year: World first successful penis transplant by a South African medical team led to this contender for tweet of the year in: 'Man gets world's first successful penis transplant after circumcision cock-up'.
Millennials: Product innovation in 2015 and 2016 is all about wearable tech and ideas that solve problems. Millennials are the influentials of the moment and their consumer habits are having a massive influence on brand strategy.
Sustainability: Purpose-driven marketing and the fact that each brand needs to be sustainable in terms of impact, footprint and renewable, was the thought that went into these sneakers from these French businessmen.
Virtual reality (VR): Explore Mars in this virtual reality experiment, launched in 2015.
Wearables: From the Apple Watch to various health devices, techno-clothing, wearables are a trend that will dominate more and more in 2016 and the years to come.
Artificial intelligence is at a tipping point according to Harvard Business Review and almost ready to be integrated into business.
That Dress: There is no doubt 2015 was the year of social media squabbles, none more so over the ridiculous blue/black or gold/white dress debate. Brands wrapped themselves in the controversy outdoing themselves with witty repartee. Kudo's to Ireland Davenport who won global acclaim for their quick turnaround on advertising for the Salvation Army, referencing The Dress in a powerful domestic violence ad.
|Source: Ireland Davenport|
Llamas on the loose: Then America went Llama loopy on how the internet handled the Great Llama Escape of 2015. It was a day that would go down in 'hysteria', as in “You can lasso our Llamas but you can never take their freedom…”
Worst ad of 2015? Or the best? Australia's stoner sloth was the perfect ad to end 2015 with, summing up the weird and the insanity that 2015 seemed at times. One tweet asked “How high were the people who made the ad?” It was intended to discourage weed smoking among teens but has become a popular meme instead.
Pissed off: We had that awesome innovation by Grey London for Volvo with bike paint to make cyclists glow at night, but this hydrophobic paint project gives public urinators taking a slash outdoors in one German town, an unwelcome surprise – a splash back!
Happy New Year! So, begone 2015 and take all the nuts with you! (Same goes for the 'Scrote n Tote'). Here's to an interesting 2016, may your most important dreams come true!
Hairy Back Causes and Treatment: Shave, Wax, or Leave?
Some men may have hairy backs. Women can sometimes have hairy backs, too. Common beauty or fashion standards may make people feel having a hairy back is undesirable or unattractive.
In men, having hairy arms, chests, or faces tends to be considered more attractive than having back hair. This can pressure those with hairy backs to want to remove the hair. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the opinion that matters most of all is your own.
Having hair on your back may increase body heat and be uncomfortable during hot weather. But it doesn’t pose any other challenges or health risks. If you have a hairy back, there’s no medical need to remove it. However, it’s your choice to do so for comfort or aesthetic reasons.
In men, genetics is the most common cause of a hairy back. Certain genes can make men more sensitive to the effects of testosterone, the male hormone that encourages growth of body hair. This can make back hair more present and thicker.
Hairy back in women
Women may also grow back hair for a few reasons. This is often called hirsutism. The most ly causes of this in women are:
If you’re a woman and you have unwanted back hair, talk to your doctor about these conditions.
Both men and women may also experience hypertrichosis, a disorder that causes excessive hair growth all over the body, including the back.
This is a very rare disorder and not a ly cause of back hair. Talk to your doctor if you think you have hypertrichosis.
There are plenty of removal options and treatments for people who don’t want back hair, including for those who may have hirsutism.
If you have a hairy back, you don’t need to remove the hair. The treatments listed are voluntary and only needed if you choose to utilize them.
Razors with handles designed for reaching your back are available for purchase online and at certain stores. It can be one of the most affordable ways to remove back hair.
Keep in mind that shaving will have to be kept up regularly for best results. Shaved hair may also feel or look it’s growing darker and coarser with each shave.
Hair removal creams
Also called depilatory creams, these work the same as similar products for leg and other body hair. Their price is close to the cost of shaving.
Apply the cream to your back and leave on for five minutes. Wipe it away to remove hair. You’ll have to reapply hair removal creams about once every few days.
Compared with shaving, there’s not a risk of cutting yourself. On the other hand, some of the chemicals within depilatory creams or lotions can have harsh effects on sensitive skin.
Waxing at home
Waxing is another option, and doing it at home can be almost as affordable as shaving and creams. The upside of waxing is that your back hair won’t grow back as fast so you won’t have to wax as often as shaving or using creams.
Waxing your back by yourself is difficult. You’ll need help to get to the hair on your back with help of a friend or partner. You should also be careful with wax as it can irritate your hair follicles and up your risk for ingrown hairs.
Waxing at a salon
For those who want to skip waxing at home, salon waxes are an option. Keep in mind they’re one of the more expensive hair removal options, running up to $50 or more per session.
Laser hair removal
Laser hair removal is the most expensive option for removing back hair, but it’s shown to be the most effective.
Each treatment can cost close to $300. For most people, multiple treatment sessions are needed to be effective. However, successful laser hair removal can keep back hair away completely for months or possibly years.
Don’t do anything
Happy with your back hair? There’s no need to remove it.
Letting it remain and grow naturally is the easiest and most affordable way to handle it.
Having back hair in and of itself is not a medical issue. In men, it may just be a part of your physique. For some women, having back hair is also a part of one’s natural physique. However, it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Talk to your doctor if your back hair concerns you. They’ll help determine if it’s related to a medical concern.
For the most part, having back hair is completely natural. It’s up to you if you want to remove it. There are many options, from affordable, frequent treatments to more lasting and expensive ones.
In some cases, having back hair may be a sign of an underlying health condition, especially for women. Talk to your doctor if you have a concern.
GUYS WHO GET INTO HAIRY SITUATIONS MAY HAVE REASONS
There are those with infamous facial hair: Satan, Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden.
There are those with revolutionary beards: Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Osama bin Laden.
And religious beards: Christ, Moses, Zeus, Rastafarians, Amish, Sikhs, Jews, Muslims … and Osama bin Laden.
While statistics show that 90 percent of men shave at least once a day, those who don't choose not to for a reason, conscious or otherwise. That's what Allan Peterkin, a Toronto-based psychiatrist, posits in his new book, One Thousand Beards: A Cultural History of Facial Hair.
“The gesture of changing one's face is simply too powerful to be strictly conscious,” Peterkin writes.
“The rather scant psychiatric and psychoanalytical literature available on the meanings of facial hair reveals that these decisions are notions of sex, death, aggression, rebellion, narcissism, damaged self-esteem, fetishism, and gender anxiety. … Simply put, beards suggest power, dominance, and virility.”
Historically, beards have been used to distinguish one group from its enemy. And evolutionists think the beard gives more prominence to the jaw and teeth, all the better for baring those pearly whites in a fight.
We won't even get into Freud's theory, which, of course, involves the nether regions of the body and shaving's being akin to castration (Freud had a beard). Then there's the “gay beard.
” For more on that, you'll have to buy the book.
Beards have also been symbols of “grief, loss, bereavement, unemployment,” Peterkin writes. The same could be true for Al Gore's beard — no more close shaves for him.
“I think for most men it's transition,” Peterkin says, adding that Gore was the perfect example of that. “Middle-aged, wanting to change careers, wanting to change his public face, and he was a little heavier, so maybe the beard was concealing his jowls.”
So what's next for facial hair?
Trend spotters “predict a big return of the mustache,” the author says over the phone from Toronto. “It's a bit surprising. It hasn't been around since the '70s. These things do cycle.
I really can't explain why that would be. In the '70s the mustache took on a smarmy singles application, and it also may have become a gay or bisexual identifier.
That's why some think it fell into disfavor.”
But the mustache is already visible in some Gap and Kenneth Cole ads, while pockets of college kids have been having mustache-growing contests.
“Often these things start on college campuses,” Peterkin says. “And the stubble look is back, but less calculated than the Don Johnson variety.” It all seems to fit in somehow with the longer, shaggy hair men have been sporting.
Goatees are out. “Too ubiquitous,” Peterkin proclaims. “It's the middle-aged ponytail.” And in some circles, beards have taken on a twist. Kids “are doing some interesting stuff, the ancient Syrians and Persians, dyeing it, threading it with beads … reinventing the minibeard.”
The GQ Guide to Male Body Grooming
There is a right way to approach the task of hair trimming and removal, and it differs for each body part. What is safe for one might be a hard pass for another. Shave here, trim there, and leave your forearm hair be. You might want lots of chest hair but absolutely no back hair.
You might a medium pube moment around your junk, but next to no hair on the balls themselves. So what’s the best way to approach male body grooming, given that every body part demands different attention? First, make sure you have a body grooming device at the ready.
(More on that below, but for now, note that it very closely resembles a beard trimmer, and sometimes has interchangeable heads so that it tackles beards and bodies both.) Then, read this article.
How to Manage Chest Hair
1. Don’t shave it: Unless you want to be a human pumice stone for your significant other, then it’s best to avoid shaving your chest. Your partner will thank you, even if he or she is attracted to dolphin smoothness. It’ll also spare you from having to shave half of your body every single day.
2. For smoothness, use depilatory cream: If you're determined to achieve that swimmer-sleek look, then there's an alternative route.
I would first suggest a depilatory cream to dissolve the hair at its root; this will buy you a few weeks before it starts to regrow, and it won’t grow back with a blunt, sharp edge. Test a bit on one patch of hair to see how you react.
If it goes well, take it all off. If not, then you can consider waxing it.
3. Waxing is a last resort: Waxing will be painful and often results in an acne breakout. If you see a trusted professional, however, you can avoid most problems. On the upside, you can expect up to six weeks before the new hairs grow in.
Regardless of which full-removal method you attempt (cream or wax), do it a few days before you need to showcase the goods. It should look bare and smooth by then, barring any possible redness, sensitivity to sun, or irritation.
Follow the procedure as you would a shave: a cold shower, nourishing lotion, and, if you can, try to keep cool and avoid sweating for a couple days, which will clog the pores.
4. Trimming is your best option: If you’re content with your chest hair and simply want to manage any unruly length, then get a full-body groomer (which is different from a beard trimmer). By keeping it at a short but flexible length, you won’t end up sandpapering your partner.
See more tips on trimming body hair below.
GQ’s picks for best body trimmer:
This one isn’t just a body groomer; it comes with 25 different pieces that trim everything from your nose to your sideburns to your beard, too.
Swap out the head or add the right guard, whatever your objective may be.
It’s a simple solution to the various devices you might otherwise accumulate, plus comes with a 10-year warranty (!!!) and has 6 hours of runtime per charge, thanks to its ultra-powerful lithium ion battery.
A device that does it all, thanks to four interchangeable heads.
A T-blade for the edges of your beard and burns, a foil shaver for the smooth stuff, a detailer for your mustache and eyebrows, and a standard trimmer for everything else.
Guards included, this one has 18 pieces, and can trim up to 13 different lengths. With all those options, it’s safe to say you’ve got your bases covered. Plus, it holds a 3.5-hour charge and has a stellar 5-year warranty.
Get Those Shoulder Hairs
If you’re nixing shoulder hair completely, then avoid razors and use a body trimmer. The shoulders are susceptible to breakouts, given they spend the whole day under your shirt, accumulating sweat and never breathing.
Take the trimmer down to its lowest setting, and go against the grain with it. (This is the opposite rule as shaving, but since you aren’t breaking the surface of the skin, you don’t run a risk of ingrown hairs.
) Shear it all off, and repeat the task every few days or once per week.
Clean Up Your Neck
1. Front of neck: Just shave this or trim it whenever you clean up your facial hair. Regardless of your beard length, though, you need to help define it by removing the neckbeard.
Imagine a “U” shape that connects behind both ears and meets at a point above the Adam’s apple (two fingers above it). Everything below this imaginary “U” must go.
You could also use an electric shaver on this area, as you might for your face.
2. Back of neck: You can summon a friend or partner to help you maintain a clean neckline between haircuts. However, their job will be much more difficult if you have a “natural” hairline on a slightly more grown-out cut.
That requires artful blending, in which case, your best bet is seeking professional help. Getting a touch up from a barber shouldn't cost more than $15 and it'll add an extra couple weeks before you need a real haircut again.
(Plus, he or she will probably clean you up around the ears, too.)
How to Manage a Hairy Back
1. Use a body groomer: It’s best to trim your back hair with a body groomer, since the back so easily breaks out with a shave. Ask a partner to trim the hairs every week or two, without feeling pressure to keep it totally smooth. Or, maybe you can manage this task on your own, if you’re flexible enough.