Is Manscaping Manly?

Shirtless male model ripped

Hot – and hairless!

By Elizabeth Shore

Hey, sexy readers. I’m out today but will return next week with a new post. In the meantime, in case you missed it the first time around, let’s just think about hot men for awhile. Ok by you? 😉

Back in 1972, Cosmopolitan magazine published a centerfold of Burt Reynolds in his birthday suit stretched out on a bearskin rug. The photo was no less than a media sensation and was considered groundbreaking for the female sexual revolution. After all, ladies have been strutting their naked selves for the entertainment of men for years. At last we gals had the favor returned (although, to be honest, Burt’s strategically draped arm hid the essential bit). That one photo skyrocketed Burt Reynolds’ career from actor to sex star. In fact, the picture was so popular that it spurred the launch of Playgirl. But isn’t it interesting how tastes change? If that photo were published today, instead of feeling euphoric over the progress in gender equality, I’d take one look at Burt’s gorilla chest and think: that dude’s in need of some serious manscaping.

Burt and his hair.

Burt and his hair.

If you do a Google images search on “sexy men” (go ahead, I’ll wait), you’re not going to get much in the way of body hair. What you are going to get are pictures similar to Mr. Ripped Abs above. When it comes to today’s hotties, the ladies like ’em smooth. We can deal with a bit of facial hair – five o’clock shadow’s pretty sexy – but plush mats of chest fur resembling a chia pet are a total turn-off. As writer Ryan McKee states on the website Ask Men, “chest hair should never be so thick that it appears a guy’s T-shirt is levitating off his chest.” Right on, Ryan.

The same rule-of-thumb holds true for excessive leg hair. Some, sure, unless you’re dating a swimmer in which case you can expect his thighs to be smoother than yours. What we don’t want is for men’s legs to look like they’re covered in carpet. As for other hirsute habits, under arm hair should be nicely trimmed. No visible tufts, please. Back hair, nose hair, ear hair let’s not even think about. But what about . . . down there? Should the lawn be trimmed around the tree?

In the porn industry men are always shaved to the nines. Not a stitch to be found below the face. But here’s the thing: for a guy to be that hairless requires a lot of upkeep. Is all that manscaping manly? Do we want our guys to be higher maintenance than we are?

Consider this scenario. You’re getting ready for a night on the town. You’ve spent the better part of the past hour making sure your make-up looks great and your hair behaves. You’ve got your outfit picked out and are nearly finished. Suddenly your guy scoots you aside and says he’s gotta jump in the shower because he needs to shave his balls. Say what?! Talk about being doused with a cold bucket of reality. Is this information that we really wanted?

People have said about sausage that they love to eat it but don’t want to know how it’s made. Perhaps we can equate manscaping to sausage. We like the results, but have no interest in knowing how they were achieved. I mean, seriously, would it be cool for your guy to cancel a date because he’s got an appointment for a back wax?

What do you think? How much is too much when it comes to men’s maintenance? Sound off in the comments below. Oh, and don’t forget to follow us at Lady Smut. We’ll keep you properly maintained.

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  • Barbara Mikula
    January 22, 2014 at 8:29 am

    That is hysterical~I like a little chest hair (or a nice smooth chest), but certainly not gorilla hair. I think trimming the garden around the tree is a little creepy – smacks a bit of pedophilia (same with a Brazilian wax on women) – but I think the bush should be trimmed! As I am an erotic romance writer myself (Skye Michaels), I never have a man who is too hairy in my stories. A lot of times I just gloss over that part of the description and leave it to the reader to imagine since women like different things. .

    • Elizabeth Shore
      January 22, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Haha! Exactly, Barbara. I’m the same way. There are some things we erotic romance writers just don’t need to be describing. Leave it to the imagination of the readers to insert their version of a hot guy.

  • Lorraine Pearl
    January 22, 2014 at 8:30 am

    I used to like my guys as hairless as possible. Chest hair turned me off, even though hubby has a lovely dusting. Facial hair, even scruff, was a definite no. But now, I love a guy with scruff and a little chest hair–blame Alex O’Loughlin for that one. I can still enjoy guys like Francis in your pic above, but even he’s sexier with scruff and chest hair. If I had a man with too much chest hair, I’d probably ask him to take it down a notch. Same for back hair. I could probably ignore too much leg hair, though.

    As far as down below. They definitely need to be manscaped. There’s no option here–unless it’s Alex O because he can get away with anything. I don’t mind knowing when hubby is taking care of this. I think it’s kind of nice to know our men are putting the time and effort in like we have been all along. The commercials now showing men taking care of this are awesome. The first time I saw one my jaw dropped, but I loved it. No, I don’t want a man that is too high maintenance or takes longer to get ready than me, but a little goes a long way.

    When I’m writing my books, I tend to throw in all kinds of men, from smooth, like yummy Francis up there, to nicely dusted with chest hair and scruff, but I never mention other areas. I figure that is for each reader to decide his or her preference. Of course, since I write erotic vampire romance, they are all sexy as hell and ripped like Francis. As a matter of fact, he’s the cover model on my latest book. Can’t wait to see how this discussion goes. 😉

    • Madeline Iva
      January 22, 2014 at 9:19 am

      Lorraine, I think you’re right: some guys can just get away with anything. ;> And variety is the spice of life, it’s fun mixing it up.

    • Elizabeth Shore
      January 22, 2014 at 9:48 am

      Hey Lorraine, just looked up the cover of Night Therapy – very nice! No complaints there.

      I’m with you on the leg hair – I don’t mind it and frankly, if a guy’s legs were super smooth it would be a turn off for me. As to the chest, I laughed aloud when I read that AskMen’s post about the hair not being so thick that the t-shirt levitates off the chest! Plus I agree wholeheartedly. Natural or not, a gorilla chest is a problem in my world.

      I read something once about the male spend on grooming products and how much it’s skyrocketed over the past few years. Obviously some men are at least giving it the ol’ college try when it comes to personal grooming, and I can’t say I mind.

  • C. Margery Kempe
    January 22, 2014 at 9:02 am

    No. Bodies should be natural. Men and women.

    • Elizabeth Shore
      January 22, 2014 at 9:22 am

      So no plucking or shaving whatsoever? Anywhere? Hmmmm. A bold choice indeed. But hey, whatever works.

  • Madeline Iva
    January 22, 2014 at 9:26 am

    In general I hang with CMK’s point of view: let natural rule.

    However, I’m sure that back in the day before men could manscape and wax there were guys who were embarrassed about their hairy backs — and crazy hairy chests and yet they didn’t want to be accused of being unmanly for doing things about it. It’s nice if the self-conscious can have alternatives so that they can hit the beach like everyone else.

    (Think of how many women would be affected if we didn’t have some leeway on women removing the facial hair. The bearded lady would not be an oddity, I’ll tell you that much.

    Meanwhile, I’m not in the ‘you must’ ‘must not’ crowd, but a shaved guy down there is fun — just saying’.

    • Elizabeth Shore
      January 22, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Yeah, seriously, how much fun could it be for a women to live with a beard? I’m more on the upkeep side than not, but there’s certainly a point where enough is enough. Overly plucked eyebrows come to mind as an example.

      As for the hair down there, if it’s neatly trimmed or even shaved all the way, it would certainly prevent stray hairs from getting into one’s mouth during certain “moments.” 🙂

  • Author Charmaine Gordon
    January 22, 2014 at 10:34 am

    I’ll never be able to “Trim around the Christmas Tree” again with laughing. Our secret, okay And Chia pets? Elizabeth, this is funny and you know me, I never cut funny nor do I trim too much.

  • Kat Attalla
    January 22, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    I was one of those who thought Burt’s hairy chest looked great. However when writing a love scene I think there’s nothing more unattractive then getting a mouthful of hair. So I guess my guys are usually manscaped but I just don’t describe the process. He comes to her that way.

    • Elizabeth Shore
      January 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      That’s the thing – the novels are an escape. Too much detail on how Mr. Hottie got hot just kind of ruins it for me. I get that in order to look like Mr. Ripped Abs above he likely eats nothing but romaine lettuce and lean chicken and spends 6 hours a day in the gym, but I really don’t want to dwell on the practicalities of the achievement – I just want to savor the results. 🙂

  • Tara S.
    January 22, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Very funny, Liz! I agree, gorilla chia pet chest would be a turn off. But I don’t think I’d want to know all the details of the manscaping going on. 🙂

  • Sue Ellen Turnbull
    January 22, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    I have to say that the gorilla chest and back have never been a turn on, but there are those women out there who love a furry rug. Nose, ear and eyebrows? Now that’s a different story. I definitely think some landscaping is needed to keep things in check. As for hair down there? Some say the tree looks taller if the grass is mowed. Carpet or hardwood floor – I like both. So there’s no need to mow below on my account.

    • Elizabeth Shore
      January 23, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      “Carpet or hardwood floor.” – You’re funny, Sue Ellen!

  • Sotia Lazu
    January 23, 2014 at 6:34 am

    I don’t mind chest hair on men, as long as it’s not scattered tufts. I also happen to like underarm and leg hair. As for down there, if the hair isn’t long enough to curl, I’m good. What I can’t stand are hairy backs and shoulders. Nope, thank you. That’s all the manscaping I find absolutely necessary.

    • Elizabeth Shore
      January 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Eww, scattered tufts. Not good. Not good at all. Same goes for hairy backs and shoulders. I’m completely with you, Sotia.

  • Kitt Crescendo
    January 23, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Personally, I feel there’s a huge difference between manscaping (which I consider trimming and paring) v. complete removal of body hair below the neck. Sure, I might enjoy those pro-wrestlers that shave, then oil up before they get into a ring, but a bit of well kept body hair is sexy as all get out. That means, if we’re getting intimate, I don’t want to be surprised by Bozo the clown when the pants come down. Hey, they don’t like to get pubes stuck between their teeth? Neither do we. Trimming is a must.

    • Elizabeth Shore
      January 23, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      “I don’t want to be surprised by Bozo the clown when the pants come down.” OMG, I almost lost my coffee on that line. So funny – and so true!!

  • Author Charmaine Gordon
    October 29, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    How well I recall THAT Burt Reynolds Picture and the commotion, furor and excitement. Suddenly sweet Burt became HOT. And remained a hottie, hair and all. I’m not excited over slick greased models with pecks the size of Australia. Manscaping is a funny word. Leave it to the guys who take care of real bushes.
    Marvelous post and Elizabeth, your verbiage is hysterical. I laughed out loud and that’s a good thing.

    • Elizabeth Shore
      October 31, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Thank you, Miss Charmaine. We so appreciate you stopping by and lending your support.

  • Kel
    November 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    It depends on the guy…

    Seriously. I can’t explain it better, but there are places stubble shouldn’t be… and while visually I like my art (statues, etc) without body hair, I’ve never actually judged humans on the same criteria.

    And remember, if you can’t laugh during sex, you’re doing it wrong.

  • Antonymous
    May 26, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Maybe judge based on his personality. It’s probably you might link body shaving to vainness, being shallow or obsessed bodybuilder, but it’s not necessarily so. Sometimes it’s about preference.
    I agree on the Brasilian, women should have leeway and preference on grooming themselves and clothes and so do men.

    • Madeline Iva
      May 26, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      But what do you do when the culture of waxing is so pervasive that you’re the odd woman out if you don’t? I think there’s a whole lot of pressure — probably driven by marketers — for people to feel incredibly anxious if they’re not doing what everyone else is doing? Men have GOT to be feeling this pressure more than they ever have before in the history of mankind. Manscaping, etc — the marketing companies have probably realized the same pressures they’ve been applying to women about their hair, etc, works just as well on men when it comes to shaving, waxing, how they smell, etc.

      • Antonymous
        October 22, 2016 at 12:03 pm

        Hi, I’m back. Hope you don’t mind me being so late, as I didn’t expect a reply.
        Well, what to say, I agree with you, I can hope it’s instructive to many men to feel a similar pressure on shaving, but sadly I doubt so. Unlike women, they realized there is a often a contraddiction between what marketing presses and the preferences on many women and they found many are ok with men hair unless very excessive and what they are really expected to shave is mostly just their back if needed (lucky me I don’t need it, it’s the hardest of all places :D).
        Some of it is positive though, like better personal hygiene and not leaving the hair completely untrimmed on borders and out of bounds, see eyebrows, neck, upper chest.
        I groom very few areas, but I never obsess, what I do, I do it mainly for me, to take care of myself and stay neat and not let go, I shave regularly only places where I think black hair looks really bad and unflattering, like my front neck (to trim the beard), shoulders, top of feet and toes. I haven’t even got much hair elsewhere, for a guy.
        But yeah, the pressure is nowhere near the same even for such places where women don’t like to see hair, at most they state their preference.
        Where women are often downright insulted and that has to change and we, I think, can only achieve so by keeping the pressure for grooming reasonable for men and women, without double standard.
        And men also have some roles perceptions and expectation still projected on them, reverse patriarchy for which they tend to accuse women, but they were construct coming from the times where only men ruled, being disposable, etc.

  • Elizabeth Shore
    October 22, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to reply again, Antonymous. Your thoughtful comments are always welcomed! And yay on banishing the double standard. Right there with you.

  • Madeline Iva
    October 24, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Reasonable grooming standards! Hear hear! And what would those reasonable standards be? A) you can do it yourself B) it doesn’t cost a ton of money or take up vast amounts of time.

    • Antonymous
      October 28, 2016 at 10:47 am

      Hey back. Well of course standards or not, in my utopia it would be no pressure :D, I agree. No one should impose them, at most the should be personal. But without dismissing “utopia” we can work toward it step by step and these ones would be already reasonable standards compared to actual one, and first of all no shaming :D.
      “you can do it yourself B)” is fundamental, with the exception of shaving the back, I’m afraid.

      • Elizabeth Shore
        October 28, 2016 at 11:41 am

        Indeed. How WOULD one shave his own back? Seems to me that removal of hair “back” there (haha) would most easily be resolved by getting it waxed.


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