Friday, November 02, 2007

Guys That Shave Their Legs

My ninth grader mentioned to me the other day that a couple of other teenage boys in the neighborhood shave their legs. Now, I know that this kind of thing is not new. When I was a teenager there were boys that were competitive swimmers that shaved their body hair. I have known male cyclists that shaved their body hair in hope of gaining a competitive advantage. But this is different than that kind of thing. These guys are doing this for purely cosmetic reasons.

I have acquaintances that do bodybuilding that shave their body hair. This is mainly for cosmetic purposes: to emphasize muscle definition. Most of these guys do this only for competitions, so in a way it is somewhat analogous to the swimmers or cyclists that are trying to improve performance. But it is also analogous to the extreme ‘beautification’ techniques that are common in the beauty pageant industry.

My son’s purpose in telling me about these guys shaving their legs was to insinuate that he thought it was strange behavior. We all engage in vanity to a one extent or another, but my son was wondering exactly who it was these guys were trying to impress. He’s been friends with these guys, but he says that their leg shaving kind of gives him the creeps.

It’s been a long time since I was in junior high and high school, so I realize that there is definitely a generation gap thing going. But I explained to my son that guys back in my day were intensely proud of anything that denoted their burgeoning manhood. Except for the handful of competitive swimmers in the school, no male would consider shaving his legs, as the hair on his legs was a symbol of his masculinity and of the transition from boyhood to manhood.

I realize that cultural norms change with time. When I was in high school, very few of the boys were capable of actually growing a decent looking beard. The few that could grow beards did so as a symbol of their manliness. The rest of us shaved our faces. This was an entirely different thing than shaving legs. The fact that we “needed” to shave was itself a symbol of our manliness. If you were unable to grow an acceptable looking beard, you shaved, because having a spotty growth of light colored scraggly facial hairs was disgraceful and unmanly. Even bodybuilders that shave their body hair do it to show off their manliness.

Most of these teen boys that are shaving their legs are not doing it to be more competitive in a sport. Nor are they doing it to demonstrate their masculinity or burgeoning manhood. Rather, it seems they are trying to show the opposite. They are either trying to demonstrate femininity or they are desperately trying to hold onto their childhood — trying to appear more childlike than adult-like.

We recently bought a book by Michael Gurian titled The Wonder of Boys. We also have Gurian’s book The Minds of Boys. Gurian contends that our society is doing an abysmal job of raising our sons to become happy and productive men and fathers. He discusses positive ways that these goals can be achieved. And I guarantee you that male leg shaving is not among his suggestions.

As our society increasingly emphasizes feminine-centric models in education and development, the masculinity of young males is marginalized. The trouble is that it does not go away, so boys end up manifesting it in ways that are counterproductive and/or anti-social. They turn to violence in entertainment or in reality. They act up at school and get drugged so that they conform to the ideals of the feminine-centric classroom culture. But they do not learn what it means to be a productive man and father. We end up with men that are confused about their roles and that act like adolescents long into their adult years. They sire children, but they have no clue how to be a real father to those children.

I am actually rather amazed at how many of Gurian’s suggestions we have naturally implemented in our family over the years. No wonder my son is creeped out by his male friends that shave their legs.

Update: I finally turned comments off on this post. While I have no problem with people expressing their opinion about male body shaving practices, I frankly don't care to moderate any more comments about the matter. Those that have an opinion on the matter are free to post on their own blog about it.

30 comments:

Misty Fowler said...

I can't help but laugh that you think that boys shaving their legs is the root cause of the decline of family. If being manly and procreating is what you want to teach your sons, that's fine by me. I'd rather teach mine to be themselves, and not to start a family until they are ready. I personally believe that forcing religious ideals on children, and teaching them to fit a certain mold is largely responsible for problems they have as an adult, especially when it comes to parenting.

Instead, I believe that educating them about morals and why I choose to follow the religious path that I do will allow them freedom to be themselves, but they will still respect my opinion, and hopefully will wait until they are responsible enough to start a family, if that is what they decide they want.

If it takes letting my sons shave their legs to let them learn a little about themselves, I'm sure they'll find a girl who (like me) doesn't care much for "masculine" hair.

Jesse Harris said...

I think it's creepy too, even for competitive swimmers that have a decent excuse.

Reach Upward said...

Misty, I completely agree with you. I'm not suggesting that boys shaving their legs is a root cause of anything. But it is a symptom of something. And I don't think it's anything good.

Bob said...

Actually, bicyclists don't shave their legs for competitiveness. The reduction in wind resistance is minimal, and really that significant unless you're in the Tour de France.

The main reason cyclists shave their legs is just in case they crash. It makes it easier and less painful to pick gravel out of clean-shaven legs that legs where you are also picking out leg hairs.

-Bob

Chris said...

Very interesting remarks, thanks RU!. I tend to agree with you that there is something going on that doesn't feel positive along the lines you describe. Our society increasingly pressures men to take on traditionally female characteristics - use moisturizer on your face, pluck your eyebrows, shave places you don't normally shave, etc. It's not immediately clear to me what the results will be or what problems we see today are a result of this phenomenon.

Divulge said...

Misty, it may not be at the root of the problem, but it sure enough helps it along. I could never shave any part of my body. Heck, I hardly even take enough time to shave my face before I head off to school. My nickname at school seems to make me the most manly of all the guys in my circle of friends. They call me Mann. Yet, all the guys I know usualy do stuff that makes people look at them a little weird, they'd kill to have as much hair on their body as I do.

There are a lot of guys out there who have hair in their eyes and a gleam on their chest. But, as they say in those old westerns, we need men with a gleam in their eyes and hair on their chest, and I'm pround to be one of them.

Jason The said...

Of all the things to worry about when it comes to the decline of western society, this is definitely not one of them.

Cultural norms change constantly and always will. Losing sleep over it just makes your own life harder.

To me, being a man has nothing to do with leg hair it is about having integrity and being honest and caring for our family and friends.

Call me crazy.

A Man's point of view said...

If you want to know where these kids today get the idea to shave their body hair, just watch TV... The Family Guy and almost every other "Kids" show on TV makes constant reference to SHAVING the male body. They even talk about shaving your PUBIC HAIR!

Now So I dont get all the women mad, I now have to make some comment about how I'm not trying to say it's wrong. If I dont make this statement then all the women will get VERY angry and want to paint a picture of me being this horrible mean guy.

You see, This is the problem with society today. The only GOOD man is a Sissy GAY man. If you act like a REAL Man, A Masculine MAN then women act like "EUUUUU HE's SOOOO GROOSSSSEEEE!!! It's crazy. Why do you THINK so many boys are just deciding to grow up GAY when all the women are acting like GAY is the only type of CORRECT man???

The whole thing with boys today wanting to shave their legs is due to modern culture and the feminist movement. Boys have been taught for years by women that everything that makes a MAN a MAN is BAD. That Masculinity is BAD and that the only ideal is a male who is sensitive to female issues. Now I know there are a lot of women out there who are going to say this is nonsense but LOOK AROUND YOU. Have you noticed that EVERY SINGLE male you see on TV or in society follows the GAY style of Dress, Hairstyle, Manerisums, etc.

All the Guys on TV wear those GAY narrow hornrim glasses, have that childish hairstyle where it's spiked in the middle like a mohawlk and they call it a "business" look. Even Men's shoes have turned GAY.

Everywhere you look today, all men are acting GAY as can be.

Every TV show for kids today is so strange... The Family Guy is FILLED with sexual references and several episodes that make comments about shaving body hair and even pubic hair.

It's so funny how EVERY boy in society today is going up to think that GAY is cool. Admit it, you can see this everywhere you look.

Anonymous said...

I'm 14, and i have thought about shaving. My legs are really hairy. I think this is sort of a pointless topic. It is a unique experience going through puberty, and not everyone will like it strait away. Most people might want to switch back and fourth, and discover what they may want. Eventually they are going to get used to it, and if they hate being hairy that much, It is their choice to continue shaving. I, personally, plan not to ever shave.

Still, who do you think you are suggesting that just because people don't want some hair on their lower body (which can be very annoying getting used to, believe me) is a cause in declining familys? It is really funny or pathetic, i can't decide.

Anonymous said...

OK. I am male and I prefer to shave my legs. I'm vain in that way. I cycle 5000 miles a summer and like the look of shaved legs. I also really like the closer skin-on-skin touch when my wife and I lay together. Let the stone casters have their fun. I will leave the judging to God. Cheers

branco in london said...

i cant believe ppl loose time writing about who shaves their legs. its a bloody aesthetic matter. u may like it or not. some do some dont. who cares.. only an american pseudo macho syndrome with sexuality insecurities may find it the root of anything else. or god forbid- being gay. pathetic!.. peace.

Anonymous said...

Why would shaving your legs be conforming to femininity and not shaving your face? Women have leg hair but not facial hair. Why do manly men shave their faces?
I don't think it has anything at all to do with being feminine. I think it is more sexual. If that is what the female likes then the males will do whatever it takes!

Anonymous said...

ok first of all not all men/boys/teenagers shave to be "manly" like many shave so they look presentable. I am 15 this year i shave and that doesn't make me any more manly like. Second you label things gay, but ever stopped to think maybe someones fashion is diffrent to yours? what some people may call gay is what some people may call trendy or cool. and i dont know if it is true about more and more boys growing up gay. but if it is, it is not just the fact of what they watch on t.v and it is especialy not because what girls think or say. and now back to the point. i have noticed many people who do shave their legs, i dont and i have fairly hairy legs. some people believe that women like the look more some people do it to get the extra advantage on the sporting field and some do it because they like it, and it feels good to them. cheers =)

Anonymous said...

Well the good news is I think this person identified why our society is falling apart. It's not because someone shaved their legs, but rather because there are idiots out there that think that leg hair is what makes a person a real man, or defines who a person is, or makes them superior. What ever happened to not judging books by the cover.

I am a 34 year old male who shaves my legs. Not because I am gay, but because I love the way it looks, I love the attention, and quite frankly I love the way it feels when I am having sex with my wife... especially when we are all lathered up with baby oil... and she likes it too.

Now here is the funny thing. You and your son are suggesting these guys are gay or feminine.... yet both of you are stairing at other men's legs. Now I am a straight male, and although I shave my legs, I spend most of my time looking at women's legs. In fact, I couldn't tell you if my male friends shave or not, don't really care.

So perhaps your son is trying to feel you out. Tell you he is looking at other men's legs. See if you are opposed to the gay culture. Maybe that wierd feeling he gets when he is looking at the other boy's legs is lust. Perhaps the issue is you and your son, and not the folks across the street.

George said...

Hi, I shave my legs and have for years. I love the way they feel after shaving. I must say that all though I am straight, I have a thing about thighs and love to look at the muscles of a well developed pair of legs male or female. If they are shaved, the muscles are shown off better

Anonymous said...

hi im 15 and straight and i shave my legs, theres nothing femine about doing it i just like the look in the summer on the beach, swimming and cycling its the modern look to be styled and well groomed some ppl just dont like the modern way.

Jeremy said...

Well, I think it's silly to say just because you're a guy you can't do this or that; it's all about self acceptance. If a guy think shaving body hair is better looking there's nothing wrong with that. After all, everyone has different tastes as well as preferences.

a person said...

i'm 14 and i play rugby league and union and i shave my legs and it makes my legs feel so much free. and all my rugby teamd o it to and we get called gay but we het in heaps of fights.

and girls like it they are always feeling my legs.

so boys shpuld do what they want.

steve said...

ok... one question. Why are you letting your ninth grader watch The Family Guy? I am a 21 year old guy, straight, and i shave my legs, my entire body actually, and some of the content of the show makes ME blush. That show is not something a FATHER would let his kid watch. Second, I believe the root cause of the downfall of western society is people like you. People who are set in their ways, not willing to change, or even accept that things are different. Things are changing, you can roll with the punches or just hide in your bomb shelter and testify to your kid that everything that men do today is gay or not what real men do. I was raised by my grandfather, who was a very traditional, old fashioned man. He always said that homosexuality and such went against everything in the bible. and so on and so forth. I do believe that, but its not up to me to judge. If your kid wants to shave his legs, let him. ITS HAIR... IT WILL GROW BACK!!! I shave my legs, etc., not because im an athelete, but because i like the feeling and so does my girlfriend. and i get a better looking tan when im shaven. the only reason people would think that its weird is because they are not secure in their sexuality or their MANHOOD, so they knock everything they see other men do. without even trying to understand it. the fact that you are teaching your kid that feminism is wrong, is kind of counter productive. in case you havent noticed, the two frontrunners in the race for the presidency of the greatest nation that has ever existed on the face of the earth are a black man and a WOMAN!!! just a few things to think about.

steve

Godloves said...

Ok, there is ABSOLUTELY nothing "manly" about body hair, of any type. I personally think a well-shaven body is not only cleaner but also sharper and therefore more intimidating, unlike many people who think the opposite. There's nothing masculine OR feminine about shaving legs/not shaving legs. I also personally think if you care that much what other people think of you, YOU are the wuss. Long live Agent 47 and sharply shaven manly men!!!

Anonymous said...

why is it okay for women to shave their legs but NOT okay for man to shave his? someone please show me this rule in a law book or in the bible? Its okay for guys to shave their legs if they want. its their body they can shave their legs if they want. if people have a problem witht hat then they need to get over themselves. who's it hurting?

Anonymous said...

I don't think that for boys, young men, or older men to shave their armpits, legs, crotches or anything else is no more weird than shaving the face, getting your hair cut by a stylist or barber unless you do it yourself, or trimming fingernails or toenails. There is more of a tendency for the younger generation to be clean than compared with those of twenty, thirty, forty years ago. Some may do it for religious reasons, but if its wrong for teenage boys and young men to remove their body hair for health and hygiene, then American women should not remove their body hair either. Your mindsets are ruined to stupidity by the last few years of culture, if you think otherwise. The very fact that somebody would identify it as gay or weird, might mean that person is the same as what he is calling the guy.

Anonymous said...

Why is it the Mormon church would call itself Christian, when they don't teach anything that Jesus Christ taught? Their leader is not Jesus Christ, but basically, they are Youngians or Smithian-Youngians, with other branches just being Smithians, so so to speak. Most of their precepts are quite bizarre. I'm not saying that any of the other churches, such as Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, or any of them have the teaching of Jesus Christ either, for they are all a weird mixture of pagan doctrines, pagan and satanic celebrations, but may have names from the Bible, or Christian greek scriptures. Of course, they all have the right to practice, just as much as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, but common, admit you are not teaching the lessons of Jesus Christ.

1.) Jesus Christ said that his followers would not take up arms against one another in wars. For the Mormons to say it is not their responsiblity but that of their government leaders, is acutually the very same excuse that the Nazi SS used, they said it was all Hitler's command for them to systematically murder millions of people.
2.) God the creator would not have issued conflicting set of commands to Adam & Eve in the first place.
3). Jesus said that his followers would not be part of the policital process, and yet the first leader and founder of the Mormon church, Joseph Smith ran for president.

Jesus Christ never quoted from the Book of Mormon, nor did his apostles. There is no historical or archaeological proof that shows that the Book of Mormon is a revelation of Jesus Christ. The ancient prophets did not look through a stone through a tall hat, but were inspired by God's spirit and to write in the languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and written on papyrus, not gold.

More on this later.

Anonymous said...

Body hair, especially pubic hair of the armpits and on the legs is gay looking. They are called bears because they are attracted to the stink of body hair, whereas the shaved body look is athletic, sporty, and masculine. I have seen guys wearing tank tops and shorts and sandals showing the pubic hair of their armpits and of their legs. They should wear that at home and not go out in public, or else wear long sleeved shirts and pants in public.

said...

hon, sorry, but i just want you to know the guy im gonna ask out shaves! i think its sexy. im 14, and i think its gross when guys have hair!! eww!!! thats just personal preference. no offense to guys who dont!!! just me! but its more cause all the girls like it. my guy is a swimmer and even if he were not, i wouldnt mind if he shaved.it has nothing to do with being 'feminine'! it is for comfort and sports mostly, and all my friends think its hot. it adds muscle definition too. some think it can e a little weird, but they all agree its better than hair. alot of things have changed since you were in school, obviously. like my dad, he cycles often and shaves his legs so it wont hurt as much if he gets into a crash, and after he had just shaved, he was embarassed to go outside couse he felt gay! all a matter of preference. but i am probaly just used to guys shaving so i think its gross when they dont. and guys shaving is not the reason for decline in family. its just cause guys have decided that siring as many children as possible is not the most important thing anymore. and the same for women. its not right to label people as gay or not, or manly, or feminine, just cause they shave. personally, i believe people like you and your son who are the fall of our civilization, not hot guys who shave. and it would be a good idea to consider that maybe your son was trying to see if you would have a problem with him shaving!!!

MrxRudyxR said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MrxRudyxR said...

Wow...Look Mr.Manly. No one has to be like you. Just because we are men, that doesn't mean we have to fall into these stupid stereotypes you are obviously encouraging your child to pursue (which is not very healthy for your son). Instead, you should be teaching your son how to be comfortable with himself and be proud of who he is. You should take parenting classes and try to get away from the perfect example of a male stereotype because your son is not going to be.

Anonymous said...

You should hear yourself talk. You have said, more or less that boys shaving their legs lead to drug use and violence. Choosing to shave one's legs is a personal decision that anyone is entitled to do. In fact, girls prefer guys who actually care about their appearance. Stop forcing your stereotypical ideals onto your son and allow him to be the person he chooses to be. Let him develope his own moral values. Is being an understanding, supportive parent a lost art?

myself said...

I have read the comments on this with some interest. I am in my 50's and completely shave my entire pubic area, butt and stomach. I am considering my legs also as most of the hair on the outside seems to be going away and I loo like a half shaved poodle so I guess it is for aesthics only and maybe because it would feel sexy.

Anonymous said...

Holy smokes! You have got to be kidding me! Boys shaving their legs is because they are showing their feminine side??? You have a serious problem. Look, shaving body hair no more distinguishes sexuality than eating a certain type of peanut butter. I am a grown, married man with three children and I shave my body hair. Why? Because my wife likes it, because it's gross, and because it looks nicer. Sports participants shave their body hair as well. As do actors, models, and many others. Stop reading stupid books written by homophobes and pay attention to your child!