Image: Hugh Jackman as The Wolverine, hairy at the front, baby smooth on the back.
Right now, you’d be forgiven for thinking men have abandoned the entire concept of hair removal.
Just take one look in your local inner-city cafe and you’ll be greeted with a veritable forest of man foliage – scraggly Ned Kelly beards, a hint of chest fur and long, Jesus-esque hair as far as the eye can see.
But despite appearances, there’s a silent battle being waged over male body hair – and the title of ‘public enemy number one’ no longer belongs to pubic hair.
Now, it belongs to back hair.
Once upon a time, hairy backs were out and proud in the street and in pop culture. Many iconic actors of the ’70s – Peter Sellers, Albert Brooks and the late Robin Williams among them – were famously hirsute. In a scene from The Spy Who Loved Me, Roger Moore’s back hair was momentarily displayed on screen… and it did nothing to hamper his sex symbol status.
Yet in recent years, this perfectly normal part of the human body has done a Houdini on us, all but disappearing from sight. Men haven't naturally evolved to a hairless state, so what's to blame? Society and beauty standards, of course, with wax, razors and lasers acting as enforcers. It seems the 'manscaping' phenomenon has moved out of men's pants and onto their backs.
In a recent article on Slate, Mark Joseph Stern explains that men have been "brain washed" since the late '70s to loathe any body hair beneath their necks. Now, in addition to being reviled in the gay community, back fuzz has the "dubious distinction of being the one type of body hair that straight men ... might actually consider to be embarrassing", Stern writes.