Saturday, November 19, 2011

A shaving confession

Warning. If body hair and the discussion of shaving body hair disgusts you, please move along. Nothing to see here people.

Tom Selleck as Magnum
OK, I am just going to come clean on this subject. No pun intended. Let's get down to it. There was a time when body hair was cool. Facial hair has come back in fashion but body hair isn't so hot. I know, there are fetish folks out there that are going to disagree with me but I am talking mainstream here. You don't see the Magnum PI's with their bronzed and hairy chests on magazine covers. Top athletes, models and actors all keep their sculpted bodies shaven or well tended for the most part. Even models who are meant to portray the rugged nature of man (like REI models) have shaven bodies. Society has given men permission to take care of their manscaping business if they so desire. I didn't have a strong desire to shave, I just kinda stumbled into it. I'll explain...

The Genesis
I had dropped 20 of the 40 lbs I eventually lost. My upper legs must have been a bit chubby because I noticed that on long runs, I developed a nasty rash on my inner thighs. I tried different products to avoid it but it didn't work. Treating it was not ideal. Rubbing cream into skin through hair is messy and gross.

Phase 1
I decided to shave my inner thighs, so that I could better treat my rash and I thought that the clean surface may help the "glide" products to work and avoid further rashes. It seemed simple enough. I shaved a half oval shape on the inside of each thigh. I was pleased with the result until later when I decided to go for a run. I tend to go minimal with running clothing in hot weather, so I put on some split shorts (short shorts). I went to the bathroom and was horrified to see that the shaved areas were visible below my shorts. This was a critical tipping point. I should have worn longer shorts and grown the hair back but I went the other direction...

Phase 2
I decided to shave my legs. I told myself that it would be fine. My legs would look good. Lots of athletes do it. So what if I am lucky to run an 8 minute mile? There are no rules that say that mediocre runners can't have the same privileges as elite runners. It took me a long time to get the job done. I couldn't see the backs of my legs, so I went over the same areas about 50 times to make sure. I felt lucky that I was not very hairy. I remember talking to my friend Andres about how manscaping was impossible for him because he was so hairy. There are no "natural stopping points" for hairy guys. When I was satisfied that I had done the best I could do, I jumped out of the shower and began to dry-off. Suddenly, I realized that my feet were hairy. It was like I was wearing furry slippers. I don't think I had ever noticed the hair on my feet before that moment. Since it was sandal weather, I needed to clean it up. I climbed back into the shower...

Phase 3
I shaved my feet. It was quick enough to do. I nicked one of my ankles but not badly. I jumped out of the shower, started to dry again but then I looked in the mirror. I was standing with my arms down to my sides and noticed that it looked completely odd to have cleanly shaven legs but hairy arms. I tried my best to tell myself it was OK but I just wasn't happy with what I was seeing. I ran out of the bathroom, checked out REI website and confirmed that the models had shaved arms too. Maybe it would be OK. For some reason, shaving my arms felt like I was crossing into completely new territory. I went back into the bathroom and jumped back into the shower...

Phase 4
I shaved my arms. It wasn't that difficult. I didn't get caught out like I did with my legs because I instantly noticed the hair on the back of my hands. I shaved that too. I can't say I liked the way shaved arms looked on me but at least it was matching luggage with the rest of me. I got out of the shower and started to dry again. When I looked in the mirror, I noticed that my chest hair seemed really out of place. Since there is hardly any, I thought it wouldn't be a big deal to take care of it.  If I was going to the beach, I didn't want this one area to stand out. I jumped back into the shower...

Phase 5
The chest was easy to shave but I didn't realize how perilous nipples can be. This was a lot trickier than any of the other body parts. I jumped out of the shower but just as I had dried-off again, I realized that I had forgotten to shave my head. My head was actually the primary body part I had intended to shave. In the frenzy, I had forgotten it. I jumped back in the shower...

Topping it all off
I shaved my head, decided to do my face too. Why not? I don't know how long I had been in there but it felt like a 3 hour shower.

The aftermath
I have to admit that I felt a little sleazy for some reason. Standing there like a slick otter made me feel a little ashamed. I told myself that I was being silly. I told myself that young men must do this all the time. This and more! They shave and sculpt their eyebrows for crying out loud. I did feel the need to confess the whole story to my wife. I knew that she would ask lots of questions if I didn't address it proactively. She thought I was insane. She laughed at me when I changed for bed that night.

What I learned from my shaving experience...

  • You need to plan it. You have to think through what you are going to shave before you do it. If you are super hairy, you have to think about where you are going to stop.
  • Limbs look better shaved. There is no doubt about it, my legs looked like sculpted machine-like objects. 
  • You treat your body differently when you shave. There is something intimate about shaving. You take time with each limb. You caress it to feel the hair as you shave. It's like you are giving your limbs special attention. I felt like I was treating my legs with more reverence.
  • People notice. Don't fool yourself, people can see that you shave - even if they don't say anything. My training partner asked me "do you shave your arms"? This was day one of us running together. I had to tell her the whole sordid tale.
  • People probably judge you. Maybe people will think you are self absorbed. Who cares? As a runner, being judged is not new. People already think you are insane for putting all the effort you do into running.
  • You can't grow hair back without going through an awkward stage. When hair grows-in, it is all symmetrical and spiky. It looks weird.
  • You get used to it. As alien as it all seemed to me at first, like all things, you get used to it in a very short amount of time. I did not feel like a sexual deviant after a few shaves.
  • You notice other men who shave. I was much more tuned in to other people's manscaping.
  • Clean shaven legs inside running tights or compression socks are so much better. You don't get that horrible mashing and pulling of the hair.
  • Treating rashes or cuts is easier. This is the main reason given by cyclists.
  • Other people lie to excuse shaving. If someone you know tells you that they shave so that they don't have as much wind resistance, they are full of shit. Unless they are a millisecond off a World record, that is a complete fabrication to hide the fact that they like the way their legs look clean shaven or some other reason.
  • It feels weird. When you shave your legs for the first time and touch them, it's like touching a strangers legs. I can't fully describe the feeling and it's a little perverted, so I'll drop the subject.
  • Shaved on shaved feels weird too. When your legs rub against your wife's (or partner's) shaved legs in bed, it's freaky for both of you. I can't actually go into how it really made me feel.
  • Shaving is a pain in the backside - even if you don't shave that part of your body! It's a lot of work and needs to be done way too frequently.
As of right now, I let the hair grow back but wearing winter running tights has made me think it's time for a little manscaping. Maybe I won't get carried away this time.

Post Update:
My son (5) looked at the picture of Tom Selleck and said "Dad. Is that a picture of you when you were young"? Classic.


  1. It's a slippery slope, as you mentioned, for some of us there just isn't a stopping point; one where it looks natural. I have shaven my full body, once, for swimming. Never again. Do you know what it feels like to have a million hairs like copper wire poking through your skin? Yeah, exactly.

    I must admit though, the feeling of diving into the pool with no hair it was like something I've never experienced before.

  2. I can't believe you can write a whole post on shaving and not even hint at your 'other' shaving-related incident. Guess that's for another post.


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