In the 1960s and '70s men and women everywhere allowed their hair to grow freely, both on their heads and below the belt. Nowadays, it seems the ladies have left the lads behind. While many women have embraced v-styling (up to 60 percent according to research from Indiana University researchers Debby Herbenick and Vanessa Schick), many men are still reluctant to reach for the razor. According to a 2012 survey by the Skin Health Alliance, only about 32 percent shave, pluck or wax their short and curlies. So what's with the double standard?
Manscaping Through History
Manscaping might seem like a new trend, but it’s actually been practiced through the ages. The ancient Egyptians shaved their pubic hair to avoid flea and lice infestations (good call). For the Romans, removing the hair of adolescent boys was a ritual marking the passage into adulthood. And in 16th century Europe, people weren’t affronted by the sight of the statue of David’s naked member - they just couldn’t believe Michelangelo had given him an "ungodly" tuft of hair!
Why Aren’t Men Manscaping?
There’s still a bit of a stigma that suggests only gay men and porn stars would ever manscape. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case. In a 2008 Australian study, two-thirds of heterosexual male respondents said they’d removed their pubic hair at least once. When even straight Aussie blokes are heading to the salon, it seems the times they are a changin'.
Many men are also worried they won’t look manly enough or that they’ll seem vain. But really, with so many men using moisturizers and dabbing on fragrances, isn’t it a bit silly to hold on to a bit of hair?
Others abstain because they worry the hair will grow back darker, thicker and coarser. Estheticians call this a grooming myth. While shaved hair might feel a bit coarser and darker at first, it’ll be back to normal once it passes the stubble stage.
Why Do Men Manscape?
Manscaping advocates insist they love the groomed look, and that their women agree. Without any hair to obscure it, less hair can also mean more, well, skin, which can make the important bits look quite a bit more impressive. Now that's got to make a guy feel more masculine. (Discover what women think of the importance of penis size in Does Size Really Matter?)
Manscaping fans also claim that without hair getting in the way, all kinds of sexual interactions are enhanced. There’s more skin-on-skin interaction during intercourse, and many women are more enthusiastic about going down on a man who's keeping things under control down there. Plus, whether you’re in the bedroom or out of it, a manicured lawn is much easier to keep clean!
Find Your Manscaping Style
Just a Trim
Trimming downstairs is a great way to dip your toe in the manscaping waters. If the thought of putting sharp blades or hot wax down there makes you tremble, a safety-guarded trimmer is the way to go. As you can also trim in the privacy of your own home, it’s ideal for anyone on the shy side. A trimmer will simply tidy things up though; those who want to be hair-free will need to choose one of the following options.
A Close Shave
Men who want a hair-free look might trade the trimmer for a razor. You can create a smooth look below the belt with your ordinary shaving gear, and it can all happen at home. The only downside to shaving is the stubble that grows within days. This prickly regrowth can be downright uncomfortable when you’re getting down to business. You’ll need to shave every three to five days to keep that coarse hair at bay. For guys who get a five o'clock shadow by lunch time, shaving could become a full-time job.
Brave the Wax
Boyzilians are on the rise in waxing parlors and salons. They give men a silky smooth back, sack, and crack - and there’s no stubble when it’s growing back. On the downside, Steve Carrell’s "40-Year-Old Virgin" wasn’t lying. Waxing hurts, especially if your hair’s thick and plentiful. You’ll need to rewax every four to six weeks, so if you’re sensitive to pain this might not be the option for you
Waxing can also create ingrown hairs, particularly if the hair is thick. Keeping clean and avoiding temperature-raising activities, like exercise and (sadly) sex, for 24 hours after waxing can minimize the risks.
Even with unisex and men-only salons, some find it a bit daunting to drop their drawers for a stranger. At-home waxing can be messy and even more painful, so shaving and trimming may be a better option for shy guys.
The Case for Manscaping
We’re not suggesting that every man has to go hair-free. There’s still a certain rugged allure about a man presenting just as nature intended. But if men expect their women to be silky smooth, perhaps it’s time they considered giving it a try. You know what they say. What's good for the goose might just be good for the gander. (Like to keep things natural? You'll like In Defense of Pubic Hair.)
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