What Stace had to say on Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
Hairy Men and Testosterone

I’m totally stealing this topic from Veinglory over at EREC, so hopefully she’ll forgive me.

See, she did a post about hairy chests. And whether we like hairy chests or not. (My comments is there, I’m just expanding it and making it actually about writing, gasp.)

For years I didn’t. Hairy chests=yuck. Perhaps some of this stemmed from a man I saw in high school, when I worked at a movie theatre. He was wearing a tank top and the man was not hairy. The man was furry. Literally. Back and front. It tufted out above the straps of his shirt and over the neckline. Supergross.

But as I age (ech), I realize…hairy chests mean something to me. And maybe they always did.

I want to preface this by saying two things: One, my husband is not a hairy man and is, of course, incredibly handsome and sexy and everything. And two, these are simply my thoughts and theories, and are not meant to reflect on anyone else in any way. I’m not a sociologist, guys, I only have a GED (damned algebra).

I think a hairy chest is aggressively masculine. Hairy men are aggressively masculine. It’s why the stubble-y look never really goes out of style. All that body hair denotes something, in the deep ex-cavegirl pure instinct hormonal part of myself. A throwback, maybe. An evolutionary impulse. But a hairy man is a man. One who can win a fistfight and impregnate you at the same time, you know what I mean?

And when I was younger–and remember, this is just me–perhaps all that rampant masculinity was threatening. I saw it as gross because it was part of a scary grown-up world that I wasn’t really ready to be a part of, that made me nervous and uncomfortable.

Don’t get me wrong. I like a smooth chest as much as the next girl, and I’m certainly not implying that women who don’t like hairy chests are immature in some way. I’m just saying what this meant and does mean to me. My physical tastes in men have changed as I aged because what I look for in a man is different now than it was, and I wonder if that isn’t the case for a lot of women.

This also got me thinking about characterization, and heroes. Most–okay, pretty much all until now–of my heroes are hairless. I didn’t even think about it. I just assumed, basically, that heroes and bare chests go together like Bombay Sapphire and tonic.

But I wonder if by automatically doing that I don’t lose out on an opportunity to expand characterization. If hair color and eye color are part of characterization, hairstyle, tattoos, etc…if we use those to show what sort of person the reader is dealing with, why not body hair? What sort of character can we denote simply by adding a hairy chest? Does it make a difference in the way we see him? Would that suit a more emo-type hero, or a beta male?

What do you think?

**Apologies for the late hour. What a day.

***I will not be blogging on Friday, I don’t think, because Friday is the Xmas party and I’ll be away all day, all night, and into Saturday. But I will hopefully have a photo to post on Monday.

****We’re doing a book club at the League of Reluctant Adults blog!! Go vote on which book you’d like to read!

25 comments to “Hairy Men and Testosterone”

  1. Charles Gramlich
    · December 12th, 2007 at 3:28 pm · Link

    I think it’s probably a mistake to make all heroes bare chested, or make them all hairy. I was rather bothered though by the fact that Conan was shown as hairless in the chestal region. Seems to me like he would have been better with some hair. It just seemed unlikely to me.

  2. Karen Erickson
    · December 12th, 2007 at 3:30 pm · Link

    I like hairy chests but not all out bear fur if ya know what I mean. Now my husband is not very hairy but that’s okay too.

    Pretty much every one of my heroes has a hairy chest! I say go for it and make your next hero hairy. 😉

  3. bettie
    · December 12th, 2007 at 5:40 pm · Link

    The hairy vs waxed angle definitely is part of characterization, and here’s why: what kind of man waxes his chest? In my observation, there are two types. 1) Men who expect to be judged on their looks (this includes some gay men, Metro straight men, body builders, actors, models and man-ho’s) 2) Men who are naturally so hairy that their hair is physically uncomfortable, or is a turn-off for their partner.

    There is a certain amount of vanity, I think, to group 1. (Not that I’m down on this–no woman who has ever had a Brazilian wax can call out chest-waxed guys on the issue of suffering for vanity because there is nothing so vain as paying someone to apply hot wax to one’s labia and ass crack so that the hairs there can be pulled out with the root). But, generally, I tend to associate that sort of regard for one’s own looks as a more feminine trait. At the very least, it denotes a man who is profoundly aware of how he will appear to others.

    When writing a hero, I save the waxed chesteses for the guys who are hot and know it; guys who use their looks to get what or who they want.

  4. BernardL
    · December 12th, 2007 at 6:47 pm · Link

    I can only think of one series of books where I noticed the author playing up one of the male character’s furry features: the Travis McGee series by John D McDonald. Travis McGee’s friend Meyer was a furry guy who always had women around him in the book. I’m glad I’m not hairy enough to be thought of as furry. :)

    · December 12th, 2007 at 6:59 pm · Link

    Hairy bodies shed, folks. Hair in the tub drain. Hair in the soap. Hair in the bed. Hair in food.

    I have a cocker spaniel for that, thanks. Keep the pelt out in the wild, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t even like long, flowing locks on a man’s head.

    Besides, even the sight of very hairy wrists makes me worry about back rug, which squicks me out more than any other physical imperfection.

  6. Rebecca
    · December 12th, 2007 at 11:50 pm · Link

    I’m probably odd in that I don’t like hairless chests. They seem a bit…well…weird to me. Especially the idea of a man bothering to wax (or shave or pluck or whatever it takes to get hairless) his chest – it’s probably very unfair or sexist of me – but vain men are a bit of a turn-off.

  7. Angie
    · December 13th, 2007 at 2:31 am · Link

    I’ve heard all the psychological theories about hairy vs. smooth men and I understand where they’re coming from, on an intellectual level. Just on pure esthetics, though, I prefer smoother guys. I want skin to look at (touch, lick, whatever), not hair.

    And I have to wonder what the psychological theories would look like if the dominant culture had sprung from one of the ethnicities where the men have naturally smooth chests. The whole Hairy=AdultMale thing is very European, after all. There’s a variety of hairiness patterns out there, and a smooth chest does not automatically mean that the man must shave or wax.

    Most of my fictional guys have hairless chests, just because that’s what I like personally, but I try to throw in some variety just for… variety. :)


  8. December/Stacia
    · December 13th, 2007 at 4:47 am · Link

    Really, Charles? That never even occurred to me about Conan, honestly. I guess because I was so young when I saw the movie the first time.
    Perhaps he’s depicted as hairless because he’s already masculine enough? If you know what I mean. I could run with this shit for days.

    Oh, yeah, Karen, I doubt I will ever like furry. But I guess it would depend on the man…

    Wow, Betty, I never really imagined a hero waxing. I just figured they were naturally not hairy. (Although Harry on SATC waxed his back, which was sweet and yes, I can see that.) But waxing because you have a little hair is a bit…hmm. Not my thing.

    But then I’ve never had a Brazilian wax. Too scary. I use Nair. :-)

    Yes, Bernard, there is definitely a line between hairy and furry. I can appreciate hairy, but furry just…no. Just don’t think I could do it. But again it would depend on the man. :-)

  9. December/Stacia
    · December 13th, 2007 at 4:53 am · Link

    Oooh, ugh, Kerry, I hadn’t thought of that but…yeah. Oooh I hate hair in the drain. Or the sink, or anywhere. Bleh! *shudder*

    I like hairy wrists though. I like wrists. Men have nice strong wrists which are good. I have tiny wrists.

    No, I agree Rebecca, the thought of a man who waxes–except as Bettie pointed out men who do it because they are VERY hairy and don’t want to cause any discomfort–is bleh. The only waxing I will accept on a man is monobrow waxing. Because that seriously impacts how people see you every day, you know?

    And here I thought this was my own original theory, Angie. :-( Got any links? I’d love to read about it.
    No, I would never automatically assume a hairless man waxes. Like I said my husband is not hairy at all, and neither were a couple of other men I’ve, ah, known. But I guess if he was really hairy elsewhere but not on his chest you would kind of guess he probably waxed. And I do agree, skin is very nice. I guess it’s more my surprise that hairy chests don’t gross me out anymore than that I’m suddenly only interested in hairy men.

  10. writtenwyrdd
    · December 13th, 2007 at 10:45 am · Link

    I gotta weigh in in favor of some hair but not a pelt. Some guys have less than others, but being realistic all men have some hair if they are of European descent. Maybe your Polynesian, Asian and Native American folks have little or none, but European guys have body hair.

    Yet, the waxing of Conan makes sense, too. Because have you ever seen a really muscled guy with body hair? It looks wrong, like a chest toupee on a marble sculpture!

  11. Gabriele C.
    · December 13th, 2007 at 12:16 pm · Link

    I’m also in the some hair is ok, but no fur, please-league.

    I can’t see Arminius without chest hair, for example, while I think Germanicus may have waxed his according to Roman fashion. :) Talorcan, my British tribal leader, has tattoes, and the Batavian Irminger wears an ear ring. Different times, you see. :)

  12. Angie
    · December 13th, 2007 at 5:26 pm · Link

    Stacia — no links, just something I’ve seen brought up whenever the esthetics of body hair on men is discussed, going back to RomEx on GEnie in the eighties. Someone always brings up the point that hairy-chested men look more masculine, more adult, more macho, more whatever, than smooth-chested men (in their opinion, although it’s usually stated as a fact) and sometimes the conversation veers off into what women are “looking for” based on whether they like hairy or smooth chests, with an amateur psychoanalysis of the women who like whatever the commenter dislikes. [sigh] I don’t know if there’s ever been a formal paper on the subject, but considering what PhD candidates do write about, I imagine there are probably a few. :)


  13. Robyn
    · December 13th, 2007 at 8:35 pm · Link

    My hubby is a by God Sasquatch. And if you came anywhere near him with hot wax you’d have a fight on your hands. It’s okay with me, though, because I like fur. Always have. I expect it’s from having been exposed to Tom Selleck in my formative years.

  14. kirsten saell
    · December 13th, 2007 at 10:05 pm · Link

    Love hairy legs on a man, but not so much the chest. I have this gag reflex thing that is literally hair-trigger. On of those babies in my mouth for more than a few seconds will make me puke. Ugh.

    There’s gotta be some kind of research on this. Maybe Desmond Morris? I mean, he did posit that boobs are really butt cheeks women wear on their chests to keep the sexual signal at a man’s eye level, and that a woman’s soft pink lips are just a mimicry of her, um…ahem, soft pink lips, if you know what I mean… A guy like that, I’m pretty sure he’s got something to say about chest hair.

  15. Bernita
    · December 14th, 2007 at 6:46 am · Link

    No pelts, please, but some hair? Fine.

  16. Anonymous
    · December 14th, 2007 at 9:09 am · Link

    One of my pet peeves is a baby smooth chest on the cover and a description of chest hair in the story. I’ve only seen chest hair on a couple of covers and I must admit I prefer it to the pervasive man-titty. I’m so tired of heroes with bigger cup sizes than the heroine.


  17. Anonymous
    · December 14th, 2007 at 9:17 am · Link

    I’ll have you to know my smooth-chested self is 6-0-1 lifetime in knock-down, drag-outs, December. ;~)>

    As for heroes, me being a guy and all, it doesn’t matter to me -keep the ladies happy. -V95

  18. McKoala
    · December 14th, 2007 at 8:00 pm · Link

    I once reassured a man that his having no hair on his head would not necessarily put off women. I didn’t mention that the bear pelt on his back might.

  19. Anonymous
    · December 15th, 2007 at 10:32 am · Link

    I like hairy chests.
    I like bare chests.
    I like any chest, as long as it’s muscular, hard, and masculine.


  20. Hairy Man
    · June 15th, 2015 at 9:00 pm · Link

    I will get rid of the extra hair on my body when all the women look like barbie

  21. Hairy Man
    · June 15th, 2015 at 9:05 pm · Link

    Men with body hair have it for a reason. They are real men with all the things that make them that way. If you like hairless dogs then by all means keep your lap dog out of the way of real men.


    • Stace
      · June 16th, 2015 at 4:58 am · Link

      Dude, why are you getting snotty? We’re saying we LIKE the hair.

    • gorrilakonster
      · July 27th, 2015 at 4:13 am · Link

      you only got the half story.

      read below:

      A man who is very hairy is because he has similar skin property to women’s, that is her/his skin follicle is too sensitive to testosterone, that’s why real women instinctively pefer men who are less hairy, which resembles the real men whose skin tolerance for testosterone is very high.

      When a man gets older, his skin may even become more sensitive to testosterone, that’s why older men grow more beard and body hair.

      Some women thinks hairy men are more masculine that’s because the false impression influenced by media.

      They essencially want MATURED men who can take care of them, not about the being hairy or not hairy.

      If a man is genetically wired to be hairy, that is, his skin folicle is as sensitive as women’s, no matter high testosteone, normal testosterone, low testosteone, he will be hairy.

      • Stace
        · July 30th, 2015 at 8:06 pm · Link

        I really love how two random dudes show up on an eight-year-old blog post to mansplain how we should be looking at/thinking of/feeling about male body hair. The obviously lighthearted tone of the post doesn’t matter; the fact that they seem only to have skimmed the post and/or comments doesn’t matter.

        And gorrilakonster… “That’s why real women instinctively prefer men who are less hairy?” So I, and many of my readers here, are not “real women” because our tastes are different from yours or do not meet your personal approval? Did you actually read this post? Do you actually have something to say about it and its viewpoint, or do you just want to make some generalizations about what “real women” like and how I and my readers are a bunch of easily influenced dipshits too stupid to know what we like, so we have to rely on the media to tell us?

        Do you understand that this is not a post about the medical facts behind male hair-growth patterns and genetics, but is actually a post about my personal feelings about men with hairy chests and what hairy chests symbolize to me and how writers may use hairy/non-hairy as a character point, just like any other descriptor?

        Funnily enough, I saw your comment because I’m writing a new blog post about how much I fucking hate certain phrases about what “real women” have.

        You know, I’m always happy to have new visitors here and I love men and male readers, but when you clearly are just here because this post turned up in some Google search you did and you haven’t bothered to read and understand it or its tone, or take a look at the rest of the blog/site to learn anything at all about me or my work (and so get some idea of the general purpose of the blog and the posts on it–to explore issues etc. as they relate specifically to genre writing and to readers/writers on the whole, as well as, of course, being a place for me to communicate with readers in general–before commenting) and will CLEARLY never come back but are just dropping your drive-by “Let me tell you how you should think about stuff,” comments here because you think we all need to be schooled by you… Ugh.

        If I’m wrong and you want to come hang out here on the regular, then I absolutely apologize and will welcome you with open arms. But I suspect I am not wrong, in which case I will continue to think and feel about hairy chests (and any other subject) exactly how I want to think and feel. I will do that without considering the fun-killing lecture of some pontificating stranger, or whether that pontificating stranger thinks I’m capable of forming my own opinions and tastes rather than just nodding in gormless open-mouthed agreement at whatever the media says.

        So, any other dudes want to jump in here to berate me for liking men and masculinity?

  22. Sammy Pitnick
    · August 3rd, 2015 at 8:57 am · Link

    Stacia you forgot to add *boom* mic drop.

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