A hair-razing experience

(Fort Wayne Journal Gazette – Page 8D – January 9, 1996) 

Some like hair on their backs. Others remove it.

By DAVID SPEAKMAN special to next

Something frightening is happening to many men in their 20s. Through no fault of their own, hey are victims of a cruel twist of fate – an unlucky spin at genetic roulette.

The signs may be noticed by a chance glance in the mirror after a show or by more embarrassing means.

Imagine waking up one morning to the gentle kiss of a loved one while hearing the appraising words, “Hmm, I never noticed your back was getting hairy.”

A hairy back?

Chewbacca is hairy. Sasquatch is hairy. Robin Williams is hairy. But guys in their 20s don’t get hairy backs, right?

Wrong. From a light dusting of darkened down to full-blown wall-to-wall shag, many guys younger than 30 are dealing with the onslaught of hair in that hard-to-reach spot.

“Eww,” was the first reaction Molly Norton had a few years ago when she first saw a guy with a hairy back.

“Honestly, when women picture the perfect male, you don;t expect back hair,” Norton said. “Young girls think its mainly when guys get facial hair, but you don’t think of hairy backs.”

Unwanted hair does not necessarily mean the end of a social life, For some people it may even be a bonus.

Norton, a resident of Berne, has dated hairy-backed men – and gotten used to it.

She talked of an ex-boyfriend with overactive back-hair follicles.

“He was always talking about how to get rid of it, but there was no easy way,” Norton said. after the initial removal, “he didn’t like the idea he had to keep it up.”

Women have been removing unwanted body hair for generations.

“Women have to do this,” Norton said. “We know hairy armpits and legs would be a definite turnoff to 99 percent of the population.”

Why should guys with unsightly back hair be different? That other percent of hair aficionados does exist.

“Why would you want to do that?” Asked Keven Howard, laughing at the thought of removing back hair.

Like some gay men and straight women, Howard is attracted to the Grizzly Adams-style of hairy men. A body type he and others call “bear.”

He has lived with his “husbear” for more than two years in a house east of Defiance.

“It’s a turn-on,” Howard says of hairy-backed men.

Howard first noticed his attraction about three or four years ago.

“They look better to me,” he said. “It’s like the preference some people have for blonds or brunettes.”

Howard talked of groups on the Internet and clubs like the Tri-State Bears, which cater cater to gay men with an appreciation for the ursine.

Howard admits his bear-loving friends are a minority. Most gay men and heterosexual women don’t like furry backs.

“Everyone has their own little hangups,” he said.

So, what’s a guy to do if he finds himself in this, well, hairy situation?

Shaving, waxing, electrolysis, tweezers, depilatory creams or the electric-spring action of the Epilady pro dives hair removal options with benefits – and drawbacks.

Norton talked about a male friend who bought a bottle of depilatory cream to cure his back-hair nightmare.

After the hair fell out, he put lotion on the newly denuded area to sooth the skin irritation, she said.

In place of the unsightly patch of fur, the guy sprouted an equally eye-pleasing crop of black pimples.

This apparently was not the effect he wanted. According to Norton, her friend gave up and now lives with the hair back there.



  • Shaving
    Pain factor: Razor burn, cuts
    Cost: Less than $1 a time
    Upkeep: Every few days
    Comments: If you can scratch your own back, you can shave your own back
  • Waxing
    Pain factor: Hair is ripped out after hot wax is poured onto the area
    Cost: At least $15 each visit
    Upkeep: Every couple of weeks
    Comments: Good for borderline masochists
  • Depilatory cream
    Pain factor: Skin irritation from caustic substance
    Cost: $2 to $6
    Upkeep: Bottle claim three to four weeks. Life says one week.
    Comments: Possible drips may cause additional unwanted hair loss.
  • Electrolysis
    Pain factor: An electric shock kills hair root
    Cost: $20 or more each session (multiple sessions required)
    Comment: Way too expensive – deal with it.
  • Epilady
    Pain factor: A metal spring whirs ant high speed while tearing hair out.
    Cost: $20 to $30
    Upkeep: Every few weeks.
    Comments: Could be tragically confused with other bedroom toys.