Article: By Ben Boquist
The other day I went to Santa Monica and walked down to the pier. It was hot so I took my shirt off. I began to notice people staring. The adorable redhead on the beach towel a few feet from me laughed and whispered to her friend. I distinctly heard “eew!” and “back hair!”
I looked around and noticed all my beach brothers with their bronzed, smooth shoulders. I was perplexed.
In the Midwest, we figure that’s just how God made us. Plus it keeps us warm in the winter. And it deflects snow from our skin when we’re shirtless in blizzards. But I’m not excessively hairy.
Yet all these bright orange, shiny Californians looked at me like something unclean.
A lot has changed in the name of gender equality since the 60s. Don’t get me wrong, women shouldn’t be objectified as sex objects. But women aren’t less objectified now, men have just joined them.
Look at the male movie stars of today compared with those of the 1950s.
In the 1950s, stocky George Reeves played Superman in a loose fitting felt suit. In 2006, beefcake Brandon Routh played Superman in a skin tight spandex suit and low-rise red shorts, turning my favorite superhero into an obvious sexpot.
Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson routinely send girls into swooning fits with their tanned, waxed and ultimately impractical physiques. And Ryan Reynolds (airbrushed, of course) winces shirtless from the cover of Entertainment Weekly. It’s only a matter of time before they replace beer with some “wellness drink” and deny us hot wings!
But I digress.
I am, of course, being facetious. Women have been measured against unrealistic beauty standards for thousands of years. It’s only fair that men join them at some point…
And yet, my experience at the beach opened my eyes to a larger problem. We are a culture obsessed with artificiality. We are messy, flawed, imperfect people. But we run after unattainable ideals.
And it starts with back hair. So I made peace with mine.