Manscaping. It’s been a thing for quite a while, but as is often the case with trends, the idea of smooth, hairless male bodies may be going the way of the wholly mammoth.
Now, for clarification, note that the definition of manscaping has morphed a bit. While the term originally applied to, um…pruning one’s nether regions, today it’s a catchall word for caring for hair wherever it happens to appear on one’s body.
And this idea is far from new. It seems our ancient ancestors, hirsute men who lived around 30,000 BC, scraped themselves with clamshells and flint blades, maybe in an effort to appeal to those comely ladies on the other side of the cave. In ancient Greek and Roman times, both men and women felt the need to remove their hair, so much so they sometimes utilized fire to singe it away.
This obsession in olden times may have had something to do with lice and other crawly creatures, though I have no scientific proof here. It just seems rational, because removing one’s hair would give the little buggers fewer places to hide, which would make our ancient ancestors less likely to be itchy and cranky.
But probably starting around ancient Egyptian times, scalping oneself became all about class and beauty. The upper crust men would scrape or pluck themselves bald, to show they were of high station. Maybe they gleaned the look from those hairless cats they so fancied. In any case, it was all about fashion. Note here that the Egyptians sometimes donned wigs and grew long, thin beards, so clearly their notions about hair are rather perplexing.
Now, if you’re old like me, you realize that the smooth-versus-fuzzy male styles keep changing. Think back to the hirsute Burt Reynolds posing rakishly in Cosmo Magazine in 1972. The layout was considered quite scandalous, at the time, but it had women everywhere searching for a similarly bushy mate. Sean Connery’s James Bond and Tom Selleck as the beach-combing private investigator in the TV series Magnum P.I., both displayed what was considered sexy shagginess.
But then something changed in our tonsorial tastes. By the 90s and early 2000s, male body hair vanished. Hence, we were greeted by the ultra-smooth Daniel Craig emerging from the ocean in Casino Royale and sports stars like David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo, who appear to have plucked every single hair below their necks making them smooth and shiny like pre-pubescent boys.
But now, the pendulum has swung back. Beards, that were previously the purview of bikers and backwoodsmen, have in recent years sprang up everywhere. And I don’t mean that five o’clock shadow-look or those carefully sculpted goatees. I’m talking about full-on James Harden beards. Watch just about any sporting event, and you’ll see unshorn athletes rocking massive Viking whiskers. Even movie stars and the guys on the TV news are now flaunting facial hair.
Clearly, shaggy is currently all the rage. Just ask former NFL player Eric Weddle, Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden, and actor Jason Mamoa.
My question is, to whom are they trying to appeal? I’m guessing women don’t necessarily favor giant, food-catching beards. However, it is true that many ladies fancy facial hair and there seems to a valid, evolutionary reason. Studies show that bearded and mustachioed men are considered more masculine, confident, and generous than those who are clean shaven. Scientists also say that, when given a choice, women believe a man with a beard is more marriageable and that they make better dads.
So, where do we go from here? I’m pretty sure the pendulum will keep on swinging, so if you don’t like today’s styles, hold on. They’ll probably be changing again soon.
The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.
February 2, 2022
In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
Review/interview requests: email@example.com
Available where you buy books