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With summer here, how much body hair does a guy have to remove?

The question

Now that summer is here (and even in other seasons), how much body hair do I need to remove?

The answer

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None at all. Body-hair preferences are entirely subjective and in part determined by age, geography and social class – too many factors to allow consensus. So what's a man to do? Whatever he wants. You're going to please who you're going to please and you just have no way of knowing, until your clothes come off, who that's going to be.

Having said that, I note that the general media pressure toward a smooth Apollonian ideal seems to be waning. You can thank the hipsters for that: They rebelled against fashion-magazine manhood with beards and scruff and in turn have influenced the runway and editorial spreads. A certain skinny boyishness is a part of that look, so it's not quite true to say that the he-man is in; fashion spreads from the seventies are far hairier.

My prediction is that a return to a natural, hirsute state is about to happen (the World Cup, with its preponderance of beautifully hairy and wildly athletic South Americans, may be an influence).

My advice: If in doubt about what a potential lover desires, just trim your bushiest parts a little (don't shave). Leave your chest and back alone. The ursine man is about to have his moment.

Novelist Russell Smith's memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a style question? E-mail

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