Finally, someone said it.
Mark Joseph Stern (who covers LGBTQ issues for Slate) deserves much praise for his bold stance in defense of back hair.
Not only that — instead of merely stating a personal preference — or meekly asking for an exemption to the “rules,” and begging for “tolerance” for our kind (all would still have been worthy of praise) — Stern deserves additional kudos for acknowledging how Hollywood and Madison Avenue have contributed to making something once viewed as natural and manly and sexy (see Burt Reynolds!) seem gross:
[T]hose of us who grew up after 1979 have been brainwashed to despise any hair that sneaks below the neck. Most male movie stars today have the hairlessness of a pre-pubescent boy, somewhat freakily accompanied by the abs of a body builder. Even the furriest of modern idols, our Jake Gyllenhaals and Jon Hamms, boast perfectly smooth backs and shoulders. Hollywood and glamour magazines have colluded, insidiously and insistently, to convince us that the hairy chest/hair-free back combination is a naturally occurring phenomenon.
This took courage to write, but these are the kinds of traditional values we need more of.
If you’re worried about the “war on boys” — or the feminization of American culture — look no further than the way that our men are mutilating our hairy bodies in order to feel attractive and “normal.”
This is serious, and — I would suggest (if Stern is representative of a trend) — it could possibly be our bridge between the gay community and the conservative world. I mean, if there were a Venn diagram, proper respect for back hair could be the overlap we’ve been waiting for.
It’s time for the pendulum to swing back, and since gay culture often sets the trends for everyone else, this would be a welcome return to normalcy.
I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am damn tired of trying to meet the unrealistic expectations foisted upon me by the arbiters of coolness and acceptability. (Perhaps next we can tackle this ridiculous obsession with six-pack abs?)
Finally, a cultural writer who is speaking for…me!
And the timing is perfect. I’m planning on taking a few days off next week, and plan to be spending a bit of time at the pool. Thanks to my new pal, Mark Joseph Stern (the voice of a generation), I’ll be doing a little less “manscaping”
Fight the power, Mark!