I am a very hairy guy.
I’m OK with it, for the most part. It’s something that I’ve come to terms with. I crop my hair pretty short every few months, but it grows kind of fast and gets shapeless quick, and I’ve had a beard for a while now that I like, so the face and head is more or less just a pair of glasses and a mouth to shove food and coffee into. I have hairy un-athletic legs and arms, and my chest and stomach are uniformly fuzzy as well. I sweat a lot in the summer and my Descendents shirts stick to my back, and it sort of helps me in the winter when I want to stay warm and snug, like an obnoxious hipster chinchilla.
For a while though, a good long while between the ages of 8 and 22, I really didn’t like it. I didn’t like that I had hair on my arms from shoulder to my wrists, and that my chest hair was only getting more and more noticeable as time went on. I love my dad but I’ve seen him shirtless at the beach. It’s not a pleasant future to look forward to, trust me.
And of course as an impressionable-as-hell kid growing up with self-esteem issues and nothing but his CD’s and a skateboard and some notebooks full of painfully-written bad poetry, the last thing I wanted to deal with was a body image issue. When it was coming in, it was thin and patchy. Not my legs though, there the hair was nice and uniform as puberty formed the now-perfect sculptured work of art that is my physique. The rest of me though? Aggravated me and annoyed me and scared me a little bit, for no real discernable reasons other than I didn’t like the way it looked.
Hair, or fur, is a protein filament that grows through the skin from follicles deep within the dermis, the lower layers of your skin. It’s something you find exclusively in mammals and a defining mark of not just human beings, but of mammalians in general. Supposedly, scientific evidence points towards the evolution of body lice as one of the reasons that humans eventually lost full thick body hair as they evolved over time towards homos sapiens. It was a form of defense mechanism, I guess. Since then it’s sort of become this kind of malleable format for self-expression, charity harvesting, and an all-round apparent meter of success and sexual potency. The general status quo has been that since we utilize it in such a myriad of ways on our heads, it’s almost unnecessary to have on the rest of our bodies. Obviously if you still have it in any significant sense on other parts of your body, you’re not entirely evolved.
You can see that I’ve had a lot of time to think about this. Hey, I didn’t have too many friends as a teenager.
Anyway, by this point in my life I’m OK with it, and I’m lucky enough to be with someone who finds it attractive. No, not the near-crippling neurosis of male body hair issues. The hairy fuzziness itself. That’s what she loves, she loves that I actually have hair on my arms and my chest, that I have hair on my face that makes me look a little bit like a lumberjack. A lumberjack with no upper arm strength, that is.
And obviously, she’s not alone in this. Now at 25 I know this for a fact but growing up it’s hard to come to terms with it, you want to be like everyone else even if you are a freak in a bizarre subculture where I listened to fast shitty bands and wore black all the time. I already had enough going against me. And the existence of the “bear” gay subculture unfortunately didn’t really help mostly because I don’t like to fuck guys, or get fucked by guys. I mean kudos to those bro’s for sticking up for the hairy guy, but at the same time it’s interesting because it’s being still viewed as a primarily “fetish subculture”.
And like I said, I had and still have enough going against me in every other aspect of life because of my attachment to lame subcultures that having my physical state of existence, my very essence that shines as I walk around the apartment naked, turned away from me just being me to being a sexual choice.
If you Google “beard punk” you’ll eventually get directed to No Idea Records. I don’t know how the fuck it happened, but they became the 90’s focus of guys in bands that are all more or less ripping off Leatherface and Hot Water Music and late Black Flag (not that that’s a bad thing) and hands down at least one person in the band has a big-ass beard. While the merits of every one trying to capture the musical magic of Hot Water Music’s No Division is debatable, it did sure bring a level of equity back to the visual aspect of punk. And I know that that’s stupid to think about, but the early 1990’s brought the punk and grunge explosion, and it brought skinny and pretty artistic guys and it brought the glossy-haired and more importantly, smooth-bodied baggy-shorts SoCal look to independent music. And despite more or less bringing that subtle gayness that permeated the misogyny of late 1980’s hardcore in America (come on, I’ve heard the stories about No Idea’s yearly “The Fest” festival in Gainesville), I personally think it’s the greatest thing to happen to independent music in a while.
I know that seems weird but you have to think about where I, as a sort of dopey fuzzy guy, am coming from. The concept of a hairy chest and back is perceived as almost universally (OK, in the US anyway) as an unattractive feature, with hairs on the arms and legs of a man, and maybe his pubes, being seen as the limit. “Wolf-Man” and greater ape jokes are the norm in response to that, and boy does that do wonders to someone’s sense of self-worth.