In November, The Uniter sent former beat reporter Chris Hunter to Aesthetics for Men for a manzilian, which you can read about here: www.uniter.ca/view/8336. We decided to explore the phenomenon of manscaping further with this article.
“There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum. It’s breathtaking. I suggest you try it.”
Dr. Evil isn’t the only man to prefer a slippery, smooth sack. Dudes everywhere are removing their unwanted body hair, so much so that they created a word for it: manscaping.
Whether it’s by shaving, trimming, plucking, waxing/sugaring or in the case of products like No!No! and Nair, burning, many men are shedding their fur.
All of it.
That means back, shoulders, chest, stomach, groin and genitals - even arms, pits and legs in some cases.
It seems the Taylor Lautner is in and the Burt Reynolds is out.
“It feels good and people tend to like it. Also, once you do it, it’s kind of addicting,” says Nikki Shorten, master esthetician and owner of Aesthetics for Men.
In addition to feeling good, Shorten says a bald body is cleaner and cuts down on sweating and chafing, especially in the groin area. And when it comes to that area, it’s not shaving or trimming that Shorten offers, it’s sugaring.
Yes, men are willingly pulling out their pubes.
It’s called a manzilian, a take on the female equivalent, the Brazilian bikini wax.
Whatever you call it, it takes balls.
However, Shorten says she does everything in her power to make clearing away curlies as comfortable as possible.
“I have a topical freezing product that I offer to my clients, especially first-timers,” Shorten says.
“There’s an additional charge for that because the product is expensive, but it usually alleviates much of the discomfort.”
“A lot of people when they come for the first time, especially for the manzilian, are very apprehensive. They’re holding their breath and clenching, which makes it a lot more painful. When you freeze the area and they’re not feeling the pull, they’re more comfortable. They breathe easier.”
However, there’s nothing comfortable about the way Ryan Ash manscapes.
The 28-year-old stand-up comedian doesn’t have the cash to pay for regular removal, although he does get his eyebrows professionally done.
He shaves and trims most of his body hair himself - not an easy task, saying that the hard to reach places are like “using MS Paint with your toes.”
“Somebody asked me recently, ‘Do you do your ass?’” says Ash, who adds that he manscapes because he doesn’t like the look, shape or feel of his body hair, as well as to reduce chafing.
“There’s no way to do anything to your ass without looking like you’ve lost all dignity, let alone shaving it.
“You can go like a frog on its back and if you want to add extra indignity and actually go for accuracy, then you’ve got to involve a mirror. That’s the only time I ever look at my own asshole. I don’t want to live there. I don’t even want to see that thing. I can’t even make out what it is really.”
Not only is shaving and trimming yourself a trying process, it’s also a potentially dangerous one.
“If you’re going to shave your ass or your sack my advice to any first-timers would be to use a guard,” Ash says. “I used to do full-on clipper head, no guard whatsoever, down in the nitty gritty and one day I ripped open my sack. Your sack bleeds a lot when you cut it, that’s a natural fact, my friend.”
If you didn’t just pass out, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why are men taking these risks?”
Perhaps, it’s not even for men.
“Most ladies are done Brazilian-style, so if we’re bare, we don’t want to be rubbing up on your wire,” Shorten says. “If you’re smooth and we’re smooth, chances are you’ll get a little more nookie.”
Yes, some women like their men fur-free, but not every woman.
“Men are supposed to be men and they have body hair and that’s that. A little fur never hurt anybody,” says Amy, a 31-year-old college student.
“I think (the manzilian) is ridiculous, to be honest I don’t think girls should even do it. What’s the point? It’s painful and it grows back. It seems silly to put yourself through that because it’s just hair. There are other things we should be spending our money and time on.”
Amy isn’t saying we should go back to sporting full-on ‘70s bushes, just that we shouldn’t be completely bare either.
It’s only natural, right?
Kyra James doesn’t think so.
The 29-year-old businesswoman thinks we’ve gotten to a point in time where body hair is actually unnatural.
“When we were living like animals, you needed body hair to be protected from the elements, but we have become civilized and we invented clothing, so there’s literally no need for hair on your body,” James says. “Over time I’m assuming people are evolving to have less and less body hair. I just think its gross and it doesn’t need to be there.”
However, just because James doesn’t believe in body hair, it doesn’t mean she’s ecstatic about men removing it.
“I think it should be something that men just go and do, but I don’t want to know about,” James says. “It borderline feels too feminine. Guys spending a lot of time and effort on this kind of thing isn’t a very manly thing to do so it should just be one of those things where it secretly goes on.”
Does that mean manscaping is emasculating?
Chris, a government employee and husband/father, doesn’t think so.
“I think fashion changes and expectations on grooming change through time,” says Chris, 32, who used to get his back professionally done, but now doesn’t worry about it.
“What is considered erotic or desirable in one era is different in another. Maybe 100 years from now we’ll be wearing pink blazers and that will be super masculine. I think it’s completely culturally subjective.”
And in the end, it’s individually subjective.
If you want to manscape, do it; if you don’t, then don’t.
“A lot of people say it’s manly when a guy has a lot of body hair, but there are plenty of things about a guy that makes him manly,” James says. “You can be a manly, rugged type of guy with body hair or without it. But, I still think body hair is gross.”
Published in Volume 67, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 21, 2013)