It wasn’t until Dr Christian Will See You Now that I’d even heard of the Embarrassing Bodies medic, but it didn’t take me long to get hooked. Dr Christian Jessen deals with insecurity-provoking issues such as alopecia, flaky scalp and obsessive eyebrow plucking. Some of these are medical and unavoidable; others are subjective and self-perpetuated.
It got me thinking about my own body insecurities, specifically those male issues you don’t often hear discussed. So today, we’re going to talk about me and my back hair.
No one's ever said, “Oh, I love back hair” – and with good reason. Over the years, I’ve been on dates with women who are fine with or even totally into chest hair, but those same women usually add, “As long as it’s not back hair,” then laugh, never considering they may be sitting across from someone with more than a few strands of the stuff.
My relationship with my own back hair has developed over the years. Matured, maybe not, but definitely developed.
Stage one: run and hide. Actually, just hide.
In my late teens, adulthood arrived and left a merciless mark. I’d always been hairy, and was only just growing to appreciate my own chest hair and accept the fact my toes had bangs, but there was something about the two black tufts sprouting on either side of my spine that made me want to vomit into the mirror.
Luckily, the back hair wasn’t enough for me to stop chasing the opposite sex, but it was enough to stop me taking off my shirt in public and to make me become quite stealthy in terms of body-positioning in private.
Stage two: denial and backyard gardening
With my mid-twenties on the horizon, it was time to maintain these two unwanted racing stripes as best I could. In other words, I pledged to work as hard as possible to ensure they never existed.
The first time I had my back waxed was a mixed bag of emotions. The physical wasn’t all that bad, or perhaps I didn’t notice it due to the feelings of freedom that awaited me at the waxing’s end. Once the flanks were removed, I was elated.
Problem was that when I showed someone close to me, they let me know that while these two flanks had been removed, there were smaller hairs nearly everywhere else on my back and they were far more noticeable now than before. Similarly, considering my shoulders also boasted the odd hair, the result basically looked like a hairy guy’s waxing appointment had been cut short.
For a while, I persisted. I spent a decent amount of my pay on regular back waxing from the pant-line to the shoulders, including the backs of my arms. But the regularity of maintenance and constant attention to detail required to keep the canvas clear was far too much for me. Lasering was way too expensive at that time, so I therefore decided to only wax when the occasion called for it.
My last wax? While travelling in Italy, I had spent some time in the sun, lounging near a relative’s pool, after which I travelled to Rome. Knowing I was going to end up beach-side fairly soon after, I ended up receiving a back wax (from non-Italian speaking Chinese women) while nursing rampant sunburn. You can imagine why it was my final dance with the back wax.
Stage three: some mix of apathy and acceptance
Now, I’m far less worried about my back hair and more about my own mortality, as 35 is a far more realistic time for a male mid-life crisis. If a date mentions back hair in jest, I fess up to the harvests of my heritage and remark that if she doesn’t like it, that’s her problem – a mindset that ends up seeming like self-assurance.
I’ve found that my issues with back hair have been just that – my issues, and if two people dig each other, such superficialities fall by the wayside. I’ve also learned not to pull a disgusted or suspicious face if I meet a woman who claims to actually dig back hair itself. Some women really like animals.
I’m still not a fan – and I still would prefer if it wasn’t a thing, but not enough to go and sit through repeated lasering sessions. Perhaps it’ll end up happening one day, but at this point in time it’s fairly low on the priorities list.
What, did you think I was going to end this piece with some pep talk on loving your flaws? Unfortunately I’m not that admirable a guy. Perhaps, Dr Christian could help me grow as a person.
Watch Dr Christian Will See You Now on Mondays at 7:30pm on SBS.
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