Dare to bare: There’s no escaping ‘Manscaping’

Wax on, wax off


By Renyi Lim

Dare to bare: There’s no escaping ‘Manscaping’

Of all the male grooming procedures in existence – pedicures, hot towel shaves, back facials – no other treatment has as terrifying a reputation as waxing. Just say the word, and – well, it’s quite likely that you’ll catch yourself wincing.

That infamous scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin didn’t help either, where Steve Carell’s character endures a chest wax and screams profanities until he can’t stand the pain any longer, walking away from the salon looking like a ‘Man O’Lantern’. (The fact that Carell shot the scene in one take, with his real chest hair being ripped away, makes his dedication to acting all the more impressive.) You’d have to be made of stone to watch him on the waxing table without feeling a shred of sympathy for him, not to mention a degree of concern when he’s shown bleeding through his shirt later.

At the same time, it hasn’t managed to scare everyone off. A quick glance at David Beckham, Calvin Harris and Cristiano Ronaldo in their respective underwear advertising campaigns suggests that they’ve invested a decent amount of time into fighting the fuzz – and clearly, they won. The lumbersexual movement may have the upper hand when it comes to bringing back facial hair, but as far as hair anywhere else on the modern man is concerned, there’s no shame in doing a bit of pruning and depilation.

Manscaping isn’t as recent an invention as it might sound. Both the women and men of ancient Egypt used pumice and razors to divest themselves of body hair, and if you look at any Greco-Roman statue, most areas left uncovered by a toga or a fig leaf have been left bare – such were the aesthetic preferences for hairless men in Grecian culture at the time. And although the more contemporary connection between body hair and masculinity as a symbol of male virility (the ultimate example being Sean Connery’s impressive chest rug as James Bond) may still hold in certain corners, attitudes are changing.

A 2012 study conducted amongst 257 American men, aged between 18 and 54, at the University of South Florida, found that 80.9 percent engaged in various forms of manscaping on a regular basis, with respondents explaining that they found it more visually appealing, it made their muscles appear larger, or simply left them feeling cleaner. There are even specific terms for the distribution of body hair on the male torso – it really is a little like landscape gardening – ranging from The Tree (moderate amount of hair on the upper chest, with a small trail leading down the stomach) to The Snail (as little hair as possible above the belly button, apart from a light trail over the tummy), down to the rather intimidating Woolly Jumper (all-over caveman pelt).

And then, of course, there is the Boyzilian – we’re talking below-the-belt topiaries now, or rather, complete deforestation. Its less demure nickname, ‘the back, sack and crack’, should probably give you an idea of what it involves, but don’t let it put you off automatically. In KL, salons like Bubble Gum Wax, WaxXZillian and Aromann offer an all-off waxing service (along with chest, stomach and back waxes, plus most other areas you can think of), while Strip: Ministry of Waxing provides an even more extensive list of options.

Depending on your pain tolerance and visual preferences, the good people at Strip can give you a basic ‘x’ wax with clipping down the front – just to keep everything tidy – and gradually work your way up to a racy ‘xxx’ (leaving one tantalising strip of hair) or a complete everything-gone ‘xxxx’. It’s a great alternative for those who are thinking of dipping their toe into the water, per se, but would rather not jump straight in for a Boyzilian on the first round.

As a reward for your bravery – especially if it’s your first wax – treat yourself to a calming post-wax care session, which will help soothe any redness or residual stinging. Bubble Gum Wax, for instance, will layer on a cooling aloe vera mask, while Strip has a fast-acting ice mask that settles your skin within 10 minutes. Also, if it helps, even James Bond complained about having his chest waxed in You Only Live Twice, pleading, “Why don’t you just dye the parts that show?” So you can congratulate yourself on being braver than Bond, at least. 

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