Dear Shopping Savage,
My girlfriend has been complaining a lot more lately about my body hair. I admit, I haven't jumped on the "manscaping" band wagon yet, but I've always thought a little hair on your chest (and back) was natural.
Not to mention, where do you draw the line? If I concede to one or two areas, what's next? My arms? Pits? Legs?
She discovered your blog and asked me to ask you to answer this "sartorial question". So dude, what's the verdict: can I keep the hair or not?
Hairy and Happy
Maybe if we lived in a different time I would side with you, but I honestly have to ask: what's the big deal? So many men get confrontational when it comes to grooming more than just their beard or head of hair. Unless you are Samson reborn, shaving your chest, back or any other part of your body isn't going to cause your world to implode. In fact, it might just open your eyes to our current societies gender-bending grooming rules.
In the past, women were the only ones to shave "unwanted body hair", but as our culture evolved, so did the rules. Men began adopting womens' approach to grooming and pampering - mani-pedi's, waxing their eyebrows and even getting botox and collagen injections, all in the name of improving one's personal appearance and appeal.
So you see H.H., there's nothing to be afraid of. I'm sure if you asked your friends (or even discreetly looked around the locker room) you'd notice that a lot of men have figured out that all that excess hair doesn't make you look more masculine; just untamed. Undoubtedly, a lot of these guys probably started shaving to appease a girlfriend in one way or another, but ask them now and I would venture many would say they liked it enough to keep it up with or without the female input.
And since we're sort of on the subject, think of the added sensation and sensitivity that freshly shaved areas can experience. Think of how much you and your girlfriend enjoy her return from a fresh bikini wax; or imagine how great it would feel to have your skin pressed next to hers. (From here is where you have to use your imagination; I'm not here to be suggestive, but to suggest things to make your lifestyle more 'enjoyable'.)
In the beginning, you could compromise on the severity of the shave and opt for a buzz cut instead of going completely bare. I will say that, from personal experience, shaving can become a bit of a gateway grooming drug. Without the hair to hide behind, there's no telling what you may discover about yourself and how much more you'd be willing to do as far as your appearance goes. You never know, deciding to shave your chest and back may just be your beginning - and if I'm wrong, at least you can count on it to grow back...in time.