Who made hairiness unfashionable? According to BackHair.org-not a site of calm community acceptance, fair warning-the blame for making smoothness sexy goes to a certain hairless young cowboy from Thelma & Louise, played by a then-unknown Brad Pitt. (The website's hero is the furry, luxuriantly chest-haired Tom Selleck in all his Magnum PI glory.) A Flak Magazine article from 2003 goes further, blaming a Hungarian Olympic multi-medalist from the 1930s, whose true claim to fame came with his early talkie portrayal of Tarzan: the smoothly shorn Johnny Weissmuller.
Whichever handsome SOB is to blame, body hair is currently out. Way out. And none is more out than back hair, that cringe-inducing, sweat-trapping pelt guaranteed to generate a Robin Williams crack or two. Aw, shazbot.
Body hair has been a part of humanity for as long as humans have been humans. Early hominids sported thick, dark hair over almost their entire bodies, males and females alike. Apes and monkeys retained it; we, for the most part, lost it.
Where did it go? No one knows exactly why humans evolved out of fur suits and into birthday suits; a leading theory is that vigorous hunting in hot climates saw our ancestors trade panting (our original body-cooling method) for sweating. Sweating is much more efficient with thin body hair, or none at all. We still retain a vestige of it: the tiny, nearly transparent fuzz covering our bodies, called vellus hair.
"Body hair" is different, though. That dark, shave-able stuff is called androgenic hair, and it grows on the legs, pubis, arms, and armpits of nearly everyone, and the chests and faces of men, to boot. And yes-for a few good men, on the back and shoulders too.
Much to the dismay of women and men alike, some backs grow hair like Holland grows tulips.
Embarrassment ensues, making summer games of pickup basketball an occasion of mortification, and first-time sex an invitation to reference Teen Wolf, or worse, Beauty and the Beast. Back hair is the bane of some men's existences, especially after the mid-'90s birth of metrosexuality and "manscaping." For the past decade or two, men have been told with increasing vehemence to shave it, pluck it, electrolyze it, or wax it already (although re waxing, Steve Carrell's shrieking performance in The 40-Year-Old Virgin scared a lot of men off-here's the clip, complete with NSFW language).
So do men take the hint? Nah. The odds a male does not groom his back hair are 1 in 1.33. That's 75% of men letting their back hair-if they've got it-become a tangled thicket of matted, curly, sweaty goodness. What in god's name, you may be screeching, do they need it for? Why not just be rid of it?
Well, in more than one situation, it can come in handy. You can use it to cheer on your favorite sports team or player. You can shave MARRY ME into it; America's Funniest Home Videos has proven that it may get you a "yes." If you're a gay man with back hair, there's a whole " bear community" out there for you. You can even enter the yearly Hairy Man Festival in Round Rock, TX. Top prize is $500.
And hairiness can't stay out of fashion forever. Even Brad Pitt, the hated hairless, has begun letting his goatee grow wild. All that remains is for some unbelievably handsome Hollywood man to (somehow) make back hair sexy. George Clooney, we're looking at you, brother.
More from Book of Odds:
Facial Hair: It Grows On You
Who's Having Sex Before Marriage?
- The State of Affairs: How Many People Cheat?
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Posted By: Zachary Turpin
IStock Photo 2437545 © Chris Johnson