Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) - Mindy Kaling (2011)
The Best Distraction in the World: Romance and Guys
In Defense of Chest Hair
AS A THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD, my big celebrity crush was Pierce Brosnan. Yeah, I know. Pierce Brosnan is such an uncreative crush that it sounds like the panicked choice of a closeted lesbian teenager. But, Pierce was my guy. I was thirteen and watching Mrs. Doubtfire in the theater with all my friends. There is a scene in which Pierce Brosnan gets out of a pool, Cheryl Tiegs-style. He is manly and glistening, and I remember this one point very clearly: he has a thick swatch of chest hair. It was a minor sexual awakening. During Mrs. Doubtfire. Not a movie often cited for its idealized depiction of traditional masculinity.
I have always liked a man with chest hair. I have only fond memories of my dad’s as a kid, peeking out of a really cool button-up shirt he wore with a map of the world on it. I think chest hair looks distinguished. It’s, like, cool—my dad’s a man.
So I really don’t understand why men shave or wax their chests. I find it so unnecessary. I mean, I sort of get it if you’re a professional swimmer because each hair follicle adds a second to your time or something, but it’s every single male actor in Hollywood. When I turn on an hour-long drama and all I see are these forty-year-old men with hairless chests, I feel slightly nauseated. Why? For the same reason one might feel nauseated by a woman with too many cosmetic injectables in her face: it just shows so much icky effort to conform to some arbitrary beauty standard. And the standard in this instance is particularly insane. You want to strip your body of something that is so coolly and distinctly male? Yuck! When I see a perfectly hairless, tanned guy on-screen, I am forced to recall the Chihuahua. Or I think of the process by which the man got rid of his chest hair. How much did it cost to get waxed? Will it grow out into prickly stubble? And frankly, guys, you should be suspect of these gals who are like va-va-va-voom over your smooth, hair-free chest. She must want you to look like either a Chippendale (who are all gay anyway, as everyone knows) or a little boy.
Look, I know the male equivalent of the person with my opinion is that creepy guy who declares he loves women to be “au natural” with a gross glint in his eye. But I’d rather be a female version of that guy than not say this at all. Besides, I’ve already revealed myself to be a bit of a creep in several sections of this book. Please leave your chest hair alone!