Body Hair Purgatory

Once upon a time, I posted a before-and-after photo of my body on Instagram.  It wasn’t to show off my physique transformation of going from a twig to a tree branch (I never reached tree trunk status like I had originally set out for when I started working out).  Rather, it was in regard to my body hair.

Although I don’t have an overwhelming amount of fur, it had just reached a point where I got uncomfortable with it and decided to go in for some maintenance.  Despite the fact that I don't trim off all that much, I was super curious as to what the insta-people would have to say.

Body hair has always been confusing to me.  It doesn’t help that mine is really weird.  It may not look weird in my photos, but that’s because I feel like I have to trim it to not look weird.  It’s all very meta.  

Below my waist, I’ve got enough fur that if I ran into Sasquatch in the locker room, he’d give me a head nod and say “Sup, bro?”  Above my waist is a different story.  My furry lower regions do lead up to a nice treasure trail...that seems to disappointingly lead to very little.  

Photo by  Michael McFadden

Yes, I have some chest hair.  But if left untamed, it becomes a scraggly mess.  Currently, due to the aging process, I am getting hair on my shoulders and I am surprisingly excited about this.

If it sounds like I am all over the board about this, then the answer is yes, I am a nutcase.  Do I want hair?  Do I not want hair?  I don’t know.  Part of the confusion comes from the fact that I’ve never really cared if other guys were smooth or hairy.  Why can’t both be hot?  Then I receive these mixed messages from gay culture that makes me feel like I should be one or the other, while I land awkwardly in the middle.

I legitimately remember the day I got my first pubic hair.  The moment I saw it, I wanted to look for some confetti so I could throw it into the air (like all boys do when they hit puberty).  Having developed a bit later than the other guys, going into middle school with a high voice certainly didn’t help the bullying.  

This first sprout of hair meant all of that was about to change. And even though deep voices apparently didn’t stop bullying, I still appreciated any follicle I could get.  

I continued to like my body hair until I received my first complaint in my early twenties.  It came from a sexual counterpart who had gotten a hair or two (or five) in his mouth.  I had encountered this same thing on my oral end, but I thought it was just a normal part of having hair and being sexually active.  

I wasn’t entirely familiar with manscaping.  So, my resolution for this was to use a hair brush.  Growing up in a house of women, I often saw how brushing their hair (on their heads) lead to lots of strays hitting the ground.  Ergo, the same must be true for any loose crotch hairs that might casually fall into any unsuspecting mouths.

Photo by  Michael McFadden

Insights on my chest hair shortly followed.  One night, after a pool party, a friend whipped out some clippers and we decided to spontaneously buzz our heads (we were in our early twenties).  As a joke, he jammed the clippers against my chest trimming off the chunk of hair that collected around my nipples.  Being the good friend I was, I took the joke in good fun and resisted the temptation to take the clippers and beat him with it.  

Fortunately, another friend, a hairdresser, was there and I relied on his hair-keened eyes to trim it all down evenly (thanks, Preston!).  Once he finished, everyone unanimously agreed that my chest hair looked WAY better.  

One guy even said that my nipples no longer looked gigantic.  My nipples looked gigantic?  I didn’t even know I had this problem.  Although I can’t speak for women, I have certainly never heard a man say he likes to be told he has huge nipples.

Once again, I took these opinions and got into the habit of trying to fix the problem.  I began trimming my chest hair regularly and, after a few more fellatio complaints, I realized that I might have to do the same with my junk.  Taking the hairbrush to the pubes evidently didn’t cut it.  

But taking clippers to my junk made me nervous.  There’s lots of weird crevices and shape-shifty skin down there.  I didn’t want to cut myself.  I also didn’t know exactly what kind of trim job that would make it look good. 

Thus I did what any logical person would do: I put an ad out on Craigslist so that I could find some random stranger to come help teach me how to trim my bush.  I loved doing this kind of thing on Craigslist - posting the most random request out there (in the platonic section) to see what kind of human would reply.  The guy I linked up with on the pubic post genuinely took it seriously.  

I didn’t know what I wanted to get out of it.  The one thing I did know was that I didn’t want any kind of “polite shapes” - no landing strips or triangles or any other object a child might draw.  This always just looked silly to me.  And when it came to my penis, the last thing I wanted to do was make anyone laugh.

The craigslist stranger lowered himself face level with my groin and got to work.  To pretty much anyone’s surprise, he remained a total gentleman about it.  There were no attempts at ‘groinal creepery’.  

He had me be the one to hold my goods to the sides so that he could do his job.  Somehow, his not being inappropriate made him seem more like a weirdo.  Who doesn’t try to attempt SOMETHING when there is a wiener in their face?  Or was it a matter of my not being good enough to take advantage of?  This thought made me self-conscious.  Have I mentioned I’m a bit of a nutcase?

Photo by  Michael McFadden

When he wrapped up, I looked down to see his handy work.  My pubic hair ended up way shorter than I imagined.  I acted like I loved it to not hurt his feelings, but it caught me by surprise.  I felt weary of these results.  It didn’t seem natural.  It didn’t seem like me.  Though I did appreciate the fact that my dick looked bigger.

In the end, the trim job was indeed effective.  I no longer received complaints from my sexual counterparts about loose hairs.  They seemed to appreciate this more manicured side.  And the same message continually got reinforced when it came to my body hair: less was more. So, that’s what I did.  I followed the fad.

In time, I’d go from trimming my chest hair to completely shaving it smooth with a razor.  I had gotten into working out and having a smooth chest really does make you look more muscular.  

Then a year or so later, everything switched.  A new trend emerged.  Furry was the new smooth.  My trimmed groin and shaved chest wouldn’t cut it anymore.  For the most part, guys now wanted guys to be riddled with man hair.  I didn’t understand.  Did guys now suddenly WANT stray pubs in their mouths again?

I didn’t mind this at first because, frankly, I was too lazy to be manscaping all the time.  But this fur trend put me at a new disadvantage.  Beforehand, I could trim things down.  But now, I couldn’t really hair-things-up.  There was only so much I could grow and I didn’t particularly like the way it grew. 

Once again, I tried going with the trend.  I stopped trimming altogether.  My bush went back to being full and my chest hair turned into a bunch of scraggly wires.  Guys did like it, but then there were those who didn’t like it.  And I became more self-conscious than ever.  My body hair, which I celebrated getting as a teenager, was now a confusing mess.

As someone who wasn’t necessarily smooth and wasn’t necessarily hairy, I felt stuck into trying to follow the popular consensuses.  I didn’t know which direction to go in with body fur - less or more.  I didn’t know who to please.

And that was the actual problem at hand.  It wasn’t my body hair itself.  It was my desire to please everyone else.  I have always been a bit of a people pleaser.  I’ve mentioned before how I don’t believe in the “no fucks given” fad (*cough* defense mechanism *cough*). So, in my sense of transparency, I fully admit I have a tendency to give a lot of fucks.

When it came to being stuck in the middle, my solution was to do what I thought everyone else wanted me to.  But I’ve learned that, oftentimes, when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.  The fur that had given me joy as a teenager had now somehow landed me in body hair purgatory (aka “Fur-gatory”).  

I realized that none of this helped me in my journey to liking myself better.  If I wanted to get comfortable in my own skin, I had to stop the madness.  So, I busted out the clippers once again and began experimenting with all the different ways I could trim - no craigslist help needed.  

If I trimmed it in a way that I didn’t like, the good news was that it would grow out and I could try again.  I liked my natural fur.  But I didn’t like it to be overwhelming.  And finally, I discovered my own happy medium - a seven guard on my crotch and a four guard on my chest.  

Photo by  Michael McFadden

This resulted in a very light trimming - nowhere near as short as my early twenties, but not quite as bushy as my early thirties.  When I looked in the mirror, I felt sexy.  I could still honor the love my hair without it feeling overwhelming.  

Instead of worrying about what pleased others, I now could legitimately say that I did what pleased me.  And indirectly, this pleased others because neither of us had to give two shakes about it when we stripped down and gave each other some major shakes.  When you feel more confident about yourself, people feel more confident about you.

When I posted that Instagram photo of my “before and after” trim job, it seemed as though ninety-percent of them preferred me au naturel. This baffled me as, nowadays, there seemed to be hardly any difference.  The different lighting might have skewed it a little.  But the commenters continuously told me how they preferred it.

However, instead of just going back to the popular consensus like I always did before, I decided not change my current approach to my own body hair.  As much as I like it when people like me, I am now old enough to realize that I like it even better when I simply feel comfortable in my own skin.  That way, I stay out of fur-gatory.

The Instagram post.

The Instagram post.

Please check out more of Michael McFadden’s photography at his website and his Instagram.


Edited by George Paraskeva

Copyright © 2019 The Bare InkSlinger, All rights reserved.

Photography Copyright © 2018 Michael McFadden, All rights reserved.