For a gay man, I have a hefty amount of testosterone; Like my furry father before me, I have a well-insulated chest.
My mother is Scottish and my father is Irish — I’m genetically programmed from both sides to stay warm in cold Anglo-Saxon winters. New Haven has cold winters too, but dammit, that’s what wool sweaters are for, not mansweaters, and the New Haven summers are anything but cold.
After a sweaty day of painting my off-campus room in 95 degree weather with 95 percent humidity, I had removed all possible layers of clothing. I was slathering red paint on my walls (and by accident on my balls). I was buck naked, still sweating like a pig, and I had nothing more to take off.
So I took a bold leap and trimmed my chest hair for the first time.
I’ve never needed that fur to stay warm, but I could certainly go without it to stay cool, just giving evolution a helping hand. I have succumbed, slightly behind the times, to the homosexual, metrosexual, omnisexual trend of “manscaping.” And my full-chest, number-three razor job is tame by comparison to some of today’s gays (insert angry Larry Kramer quotation here).
Gay men are going the way of the Sphinx: mysterious, beautiful and completely devoid of hair. Some shave, some wax, some are just born that way.
Gay culture is one-upping Darwin, attempting to speed the process away from our hairy chimp ancestors. Perma-fur is out; layers are in. Body hair is just another shell that could (and should?) come right off with all the rest. We seek perfection, the end result of years of evolution, the ultimate in aesthetic beauty: away from Curious George and toward Michaelangelo’s David.
Maybe Michael was just lazy. I think Davey would look pretty sexy with some hair on his chest too, but that fuzz would be a bit harder to carve in stone than big, smooth, round pecs.
While pretty-boy gay men shave, wax, pluck and grease themselves into a sweaty frenzy of slippery, gyrating anonymity on New York club floors, David Beckham has done us one better.
For years now, we’ve accused metrosexuals of stealing our culture, lifting gay style, blurring the very precious line between gay and straight that lets us all know which men to hit on. Now, however, David Beckham — front-man metrosexual, leader of the straight-style revolution, the only non-goth male celebrity ever to wear nail polish — shaved one body part too many: his armpits. And the world is up in arms.
Swimmers shave their legs, even their heads, and yes, sometimes their underarms, but Beckham’s streamlined pits will never compete in water and will never justify their shorn appearance with cries of “friction!” and “milliseconds off my lap time!” Beckham’s newest experiment is purely aesthetic, guys and gals, cuz friction has nothing to do with kicking those balls.
(Speaking of … Beckham’s full-torso shave makes you wonder how full-body it goes.)
If he were a woman, we might call it a Brazilian. For a man, I don’t know, I might just call it creepy.
The metrosexual coup has blurred more than the borders between gay and straight. Beckham, man’s man, soccer stud, hero to millions of gals and gays everywhere, is blurring the line between guy and girl. It’s like one of those sci-fi movies where all the people, regardless of gender, wear silver uni-suits. And underneath those suits are the hairless bodies of our future. The haircuts are the same, the bodies are indistinguishable. You’ll have to pull down someone’s pants just to see whether or not you’re supposed to be turned on.
If testosterone is so key to one’s manliness, why not go au natural and celebrate the havoc testosterone wreaks on one’s body? Putting that on the table, though, is it fair for men to have that option when women so clearly don’t?
Even within the trend of metrosexuality, refraining from shaving everything but your face is perfectly acceptable in manworld. And the face only needs to be trimmed just this side of Led Zeppelin. Beckham’s hetero-hairlessness is still shocking and newsworthy.
It’s taken for granted that women shave their legs and their pits, slather colors on their faces, and put their hair through the ringer just to please men — as if such behavior is natural. Men of the heterosexual variety, on the other hand, are socially allowed to let their body forests run rampant and their less-than-perfect skin go unkempt and uncovered. Unshorn women are still crazy-liberal-hippie-communist Earth Mothers with lesbian tendencies. Unshorn men are just scruffy.
Is this double-standard simply a celebration of testosterone, or a cultural relic that encourages men to shirk the labor-intensive duties of maintaining one’s appearance? While many gays may have gone too far (I prefer a well-trimmed garden to no garden at all), perhaps Beckham has the right idea for shocking the hetero-world out of complacency. Maybe more razors and more male cosmetics are and should be on their way. Whatever the aesthetic value, perhaps a shorn bod is worth the culture shock just to equalize the beauty expectations of man and woman.
Is the straight world ready for the consequences? The shearing of gay men is one story. They know what an attractive man looks like, and they’ll all attempt to be their own ideal mate in order to attract him. With straight folks like Beckham, though, gender politics, equality and the niceties of chivalry add another dimension entirely.
My editor simplifies the argument beautifully: “Whatever. I just don’t want to have to compete with a man to get my pedicure.”
Chad Callaghan would give up his favorite mansweater for a pedicure.