Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

How women's views on men's chest hair tend to wax and wane

Mr Smooth: David Beckham
Mr Smooth: David Beckham

What's the story with chest hair? Every woman I know claims to hate it, and every man who has it is successful with the ladies.

There's something not right here, and it's to do with women telling porkies. There's a genuinely hunky guy on some TV show, and you turn to your lady and say: "Well, I couldn't blame you for fancying him."

And they say: "What! You must be joking!"

And you think: "Eh?"

Why do they do that? Why do they lie to us so? The only man that men and women agree on is Sean Connery.

And what did Sean Connery have in spades or, at least, clumps. Correct: chest hair.

Yet, according to a top follicle psychologist, modern men are removing their chest hair as if it were pustules of plague.

The reason? Media pressure to emulate celebrity "man-gods". David Beckham is prime suspect here. If he had chest hair, he has removed it. And substituted it with tattoos.

I know a lady who'd bend anything for Beckham. Yet she hates his tattoos. How could you ignore his tattoos but not his theoretical chest hair?

"Everywhere you look," says Dr Linda Blair, "the message is that good guys are hairless."

Well, maybe. But are blokes really queuing up at salons to have their chest hair removed? Every guy I know with chest hair flaunts it. And with good reason. The ladies, whatever they say, love it.

The truth, I suspect, lies somewhere in between. In other words, most guys have bits of fluff, rather than a thick carpet, on their pecs or boobs.

And you're better being one thing or the other: smooth or hairy.

But it's absurd that men are worrying about this at all. Back in what historians call "the day", men never fretted about their bodies.

Nearly everyone was a labourer, and a lack of junk food kept the calories off. You didn't have to take your clothes off for sex, or anything else, except your annual bath.

Now you're supposed to be smooth and perfumed, chiselled, honed, buffed and lithe.

It's bad enough that cranial baldness is all the rage. Now bodily baldness is in demand too.

To add insult to insecurity, women say they hate men "preening". Gordon H. Bennett, we can't win.

Luckily, I don't go in for beach holidays, swimming or banking seminars, so I don't have to take my shirt off. At bedtime, my floor-length nightgown hides a multitude of sins. And my tasselled cap keeps my hair in place.

It's the young people I feel sorry for. They can't decide between what Mother Nature has given them and what that bird down the road might prefer.

Perhaps there is justice in this. It is women's revenge. It's gender karma. The high heel is now on the other foot.

For years, they've had to bung stuff on their hair, lips, cheeks, eyes, and noses. And that's before you consider their lower upholstery.

Now it's the men's turn to hog the bathroom mirror before a night out – while simultaneously pretending they don't give a damn for such nonsense.

However, if there's one thing I know about my fellow man: he's a chronic liar. So, as I have conclusively demonstrated here, are women.

No wonder, as Mark Twain said, truth is stranger than fiction. "Fiction has to make sense."

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