For many years I’ve had a bit of a hangup about my hairy back and shoulders. A hairy chest is regarded as sexy and masculine, but I’ve often heard hairy backs referred to as unattractive and undesirable. In fact, in some people, they prompt a look of sheer disgust.
You rarely see models with hair all over their body, or furry muscled hunks advertising swimming trunks or underwear. This is despite the fact if you’re very hairy on the front, it’s likely you’ll also have some hair on the back.
It’s not uncommon for gay men to have hangups about their appearance, and over the years, I’ve turned to a variety of methods to tackle what I viewed as a “problem”.
Waxing left me breaking out into deep spots (surely not attractive to anyone). Depilatory creams work but trying to do one’s back is a challenge. In the end, I usually ended up getting roommates to clipper my back and shoulders.
This is even though no lover expressed criticism of my body hair. On the contrary, one or two said they’d prefer it if I left it untouched.
“I don’t think you should shave your shoulders. It looks a bit weird,” said one, diplomatically. It fell on deaf ears.
Related: Men are posting their hairy chests to Twitter to prove they’re not ‘ick’
Maybe it’s partly to do with age, but a turning point came in the last year. Instagram is routinely blamed for fueling our physical insecurities, but sometimes it can also promote body positivity and challenge preconceptions of what’s considered attractive. I noticed how hairy the back and shoulders were of one particular hunk I follow: How blissfully unashamed or unbothered he appeared by his hairiness.
“You’re gorgeous,” I thought. “And your hairiness is a part of that.”
I resolved then and there to stop clipping my back hair.
At first, it felt a little strange to see this slightly different image in the mirror, and the hazy aura of fuzz around my shoulders. Then I got used to it, and it simply stopped bothering me. It doesn’t appear to put off any sex partners. It simply just feels like another part of me.
I began to take note of other hairy guys on Instagram who appear to have no hang-ups about their furriness. I reached out to a few—way furrier than myself—to ask them about their fuzz.
Adam, 51, is an Australian now living in Switzerland, who is known as @Firebreatherbear on Instagram.
“When I was in my late teens and until my mid 20’s, I didn’t really like my hair. It was the early nineties and smooth bodies were very much the thing. I did shave it off once but it didn’t really go smooth. I tried waxing it once as well but, I honestly could not take the pain.
“Looking back on it now, I feel that peer pressure could have been a reason, I tried this. When you’re younger, the need to be part of a group is very strong. Later in life, I did work out that I was just trying to fit in with the wrong group.
In his mid-20s, Adam realized that his hairiness was attractive to others.
“Around the age of 25, I started to hang around leather bars and found the bear community. My hairy body did open a lot of doors to me. But even when I felt accepted by my community of choice. I still did feel my body hair was not accepted by the larger gay community and straight world.
“I do remember taking my shirt off at a bear event for the first time and that’s is when I felt that men found the fur attractive. These days I am 100% natural. I do a little manscaping but mostly to show off my tattoos better. My fur is a major part of my life. It has opened doors to bear modeling, adult movie work, and I now love the attention it gets. It is part of me.”
Does he have any advice for other gay men struggling to love their bodies?
“I think body image for anyone is a hard thing. I think what finally taught me to accept my body and love it, was the realization that it is me. It’s not going anywhere. My fur, my greying hair, are what make me unique. The things that make us unique are what make men sexy. Having a husband who finds my hair sexy, also helps. As gay men, we need to tell each other more that uniqueness is sexy.
“My fur/hair has always been my calling card to the world I wanted to be in. I’m a proud hairy man, who just wants to show the world that uniqueness is what we should be celebrating.”
Related: A sex and intimacy coach shares what he thinks more gay men should be doing
Kahan (@i.am.claxtoka), 45, lives in Toronto, Canada.
“I have always been fascinated by bodybuilders, so when I was younger, I tried different ways of body hair removal including shaving, depilation and full body waxing.”
Was there ever a moment when he realized other guys find his body hair attractive?
“My first foray into showing my body started with the dating app Scruff. There, numerous guys mentioned how much they loved my body hair. That gave me the confidence to start an Instagram page and I have increased my online presence from there.
Nowadays, with his body hair, he says he prefers, “to go natural. So much easier!”
He appreciates that many people have a hard time embracing their looks.
“I believe most people struggle to love their bodies; we are our own worst critics. If you spend anytime online, you see amazing developed physiques everywhere you look. I think realizing that these people are just further along on their physique transformation journey than I was helped me to use those images as motivation instead of feeling worse about myself.”
Related: Do you recognize this hairy stud with the six-pack?
Hunter Harden, 35, is a podcaster, model, go-go and club host based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“I’ve always been furry. My whole body has very thick peach fuzz and I ended up with a very hairy butt right after middle school and my body hair started to slowly grow. But my legs, arms, and butt have always been hairy.
“It was very embarrassing for me growing up and I was terrified of people making fun of me for being so hairy. I Naired my butt before and used to trim all of my body hair down every couple of weeks.
“It wasn’t until I went on a gay cruise when I was 22 that I realized my body hair was very erotic to a lot of people. Then I found out my butt hair was perfectly covered in blonde fur and guys would go nuts over it.”
Nowadays, he leaves his body hair in its natural glory.
“I trim my face but the rest of my body hasn’t seen a trimmer or razor in well over 10 years. I do brush my fur out sometimes because it can get out of control.”
What has helped him to embrace his looks?
“I think working out gave me a lot of pride in myself because I set goals and accomplished them. I was always a very skinny kid so building up some muscle was exciting for me and made me love myself more.
“And the Bear community helped me love my body fur. Seeing other guys hairy like myself and getting complimented and guys wanting to ‘pet’ you. It made me feel accepted for my hairy body and not feel so alone.”
David Hudson is a contributing editor at Queerty. Follow him on Twitter at @davidhudson_uk
I like body hair on men even men who are naturally smooth. I certainly haven’t kicked any guys out of bed for shaving, waxing or manscaping. I just prefer hair. To me, it’s masculine. It smells like a man. Pheromones. The look and feel. I like a nice Woodstock bush.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” “Love can fall as easily on a sow’s ear as it can on a silk purse.” “To each his own.”
I am a blond (before grey) but I remember going to a Barber School while a graduate student. The one lady I got many times over (I think she was an instructor) made a comment every time about “so strange to see hair coming out of the collar for a blond guy”. The hair itself did not bother me – it was that unpleasant comment that irked me. Now that I am older I still have hair on my back but a) it is clearly less than when I was in my 20s and grey seems to show less. No one comments any longer.
Simple solution is to trim your color hair when you get a haircut. Nobody will notice
If you start losing your hair to male pattern baldness, you’ll have a supply of replacements like Sylvester Stallone did
Hair is hot.
Hairy can be very sexy. That Kahan Claxton has more than hairy sexiness going on, though; go to his Twitter account and you’ll see what I mean. He’s Daddy x 1000!
Hunter as well as all the men who are hairy. You are, have been and always will be hot sexy men. Thank you for not taking away what other good men love!
Hunter is SO sexy. <3
I always state I prefer dolphin smooth men me fav but! i love in hairy men all the way to back hair, also
I love funny followed by confident. If any man has those IM attracted hairy of hairless, short, tall. small or large. BE A PROUD GAY MAN and you are attractive to someone
Gross and not my taste, especially back hair. Men are not supposed to be gorillas.
That’s an interesting comparison, and you fail to see the irony in your complaint. Humans and gorillas are both members of the great apes. Hence, the similarity.
“Supposed to” is a strange phrase to choose. My genes made me 6’2″, but am I “supposed to” be a different height to make you feel better? People aren’t really “supposed to” look any certain way. People are supposed to be thoughtful, kind, and decent, though. You fail there.
Men are supposed to be whatever their genetic makeup predisposes them to be. Personally I think shaved bodies (especially pits and pubes) are the most infantilizing thing a man can do and other than applying makeup, the most feminizing. But hetero women have pushed straight men into doing that in Europe, and now you see men of all orientations both there and here in the US doing it. Naturally smooth is great, as is naturally hairy. Body stubble is gross to me, but undoubtedly somebody loves it!
Don’t be a dick your whole life
I look a little bit like the last guy, Hunter. Over the years, somewhere around 100 gay men have told me to wax it all. Usually, they are complete strangers who I’ve never said a word to. Not boyfriends, not people I’m flirting with, not guys on the apps. Just some total stranger walking up to me and initiating a conversation this way. I’m always surprised by the audacity. Even with a shirt on (a short-sleeved shirt, exposing my forearms), lots of gay men have told me I’m “disgusting,” literally using that word to my face. Comments about not plucking my eyebrows too. I wish people would shut up or change.
I hope you tell them that they are rude queens and should do like their mommies told them…”if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything.” I guess they can’t resist being rude to you to deal with their own insecurities. Maybe you remind them of the father image that they never had in their life and are taking out their hostilities on you. My money is on that.
Up above, I wrote how I’m always surprised. So no, I don’t say much else than, “What? Are you talking to me? Who even are you? We don’t know each other.” It’s usually shock. These people interrupt conversations between me and my friends or they will walk to my table at a restaurant. It’s so weird!!! After I wrote, I saw that TomG is exactly one of these types. The gall….
Sorry you’ve had those experiences. People have not learned this basic rule of social interaction: MYOB.
I find it mind boggling that a total stranger would go out of his way to tell someone their hair is disgusting. If that happened to me, I’d be punching someone’s lights out.
This reminded me of something that happened to me once. A guy from my work, really stocky, hairy guy I fancied was over near the bar and I kept looking over at him. He didn’t seem in a great mood so I never approached him but an hour or so later, we were at the bar together. He caught me giving him the side eye and asked if he could do anything for me in a kinda grumpy tone. I said something cheesy like, is there a universe in which I got the chance to spend the night with you? He looked at me funny then I said, maybe two? He said sure, that can be arranged. That was 41 years ago, now he’s my husband.
“A man can never be too hairy…”
Exactly. I have never met (and even seen or imagined) a man with too much hair.
It takes all sorts to make a world. Enough said.
I support everyone being happy with who they are – if they are able to attract who they are looking to attract. To each his own.
For me, body hair in general is indeed a major turn-off, and back hair even more so. Naturally smooth is my type, really, but failing that, you can work miracles with lasers these days…
KEEP THE HAIR!!!! I have no chest, back, shoulder or butt hair, and just a little bit on my legs. And I’m half Italian! I was robbed! I love hairy men; the way it looks, feels, tastes and smells. I hated the hairless 90’s, everyone looked the same. Keep the hair. PLEASE!
Keep the hair, it’s you. I am hairy as a monkey, I have no plans to change it. No one else has to like it.
I love hairy guys. Sexy as hell
Smooth is for a baby not men.
Love hairy butts . Power to the sexy bears!!!
It’s weird: I definitely am attracted to men of some ethnicities more than others, and there are definitely some physical qualities that especially turn me on, but as far as hairiness… Whatever. On any given guy, it is whatever it is and it doesn’t matter to me. I barely even notice. (Weird, Part II: I generally don’t remember the size of a guy’s dick or whether he’s cut or not. Just kind of irrelevant to me, I guess.)
One of my turn-OFFs is ink. As in most of the men pictured in this article. (“Man, you have such a nice bod, nice skin. Why you defiling it like that?!”) There. I’ve said it.
Damn, what a Bonner tease with pics! Show more hairy men articles! A man is not a man unless he has a beard and a hairy body! Lick!
My first lover was a bear, my last husband was a bear. In fact my dad was a bear. I’m French Canadian hairy lumberjacks, yay! Go with whatever your god and mother nature gave you! So much easier and there are plenty of takers. There was also a time in my past when potential sex partners were turned off because I was uncut and that’s no longer the case…there’s someone for everyone, eventually.
I love fur, everywhere… I had a friend/lover who was a big fat bear, and he hated his fur because of others opinion !! He made me trim him all and I always had to negotiate for him to leave some or at least some shorter fur… We were friends and those trimming sessions was what made us realize we loved each other, so at the same time I was sorry for removing his hair, I was always anxious for the next trim (so I could touch his whole body LOL). Only thing : all bears in the article are very fit, I wanted to see at least one chubbie (those who actually get more criticism, for being fat and hairy). Viva the bears !
Good for him! I really didn’t like that hairless look that started in the ’80s and still seems to continue.
The shoulders and back do nothing for me, but the front!!! WOOFF!! Any day of the year.