Do Our Heroes Have Receding Hair?

Chest hair, that is.

Yes, it’s an odd question to kick off a blog, but I figure every woman (and maybe more than a few men) have an opinion.

I hold nothing against a bare-chested hero like Kris Kennedy’s DEFIANT hero. (Okay, for the record, if he asked me to, I would hold myself against him!)  This man is rugged, strong, has serious intentions and he’s even struck a pose reminiscent of the Steadfast Tin Soldier.  The fact that his five o’clock shadow is more pronounced than any chest hair?  I’ll admit–I’m intrigued.

I grew up in the 70’s, an era where my pre-adolescent brain imprinted James Bond’s lightly-furred chest as an image of masculinity.  But in the 21st century, I find that more than our romantic heroes of literature and screen are sporting waxed chests along with their washboard abs.  On a recent cruise, I realized that easily three-fourths of the adult males on board had little or no visible body hair on their torsos, chests and backs.

Even Old Spice has changed from their salty sailor returning from the sea to that hip guy sporting a towel, who appears to be clean-shaven everywhere.  Well, at least everywhere we can see.

Chest hair has gone from “hot” to “not.”  It’s even spoof-worthy, as evidenced by Austin Powers and that rug of his that proclaims his mojo.  What happened to that firmly-entrenched belief held by women of previous generations–that chest hair was a sign of virility?

When I turned in my first contracted book to my editor, she praised many elements of my story.  One change she urged was to have me remove any mention of hair on my hero’s chest.

Seriously? I thought.  (Yes, I was young and naive in those days, er, last summer…)

I’ve since learned that romance editors, agents and many authors crave smooth rippling muscles.  But I’m curious about readers.  Does that hold true for everyone?  Is the romance industry perpetuating a myth by delivering only sleek pecs to their readers—or is that really what readers want?

So join me and cast your vote:  Chest Hair or Waxed Bare.  Which do you prefer?  

About Amy Atwell

Amy Atwell is a storyteller at heart. After fifteen years in professional theater, she turned from the stage to the page to write contemporary capers and historical tales that combine romance and adventure. Her books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. When not writing, she runs the online author communities WritingGIAM and Author E.M.S.
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36 Responses to Do Our Heroes Have Receding Hair?

  1. Amy Atwell says:

    How funny–when I wrote this blog, I had no idea that Old Spice spokesmen Fabio and Isaiah Mustafa were planning a Mano a Mano in El Bano duel today. You can watch the fun starting at noon EDT on YouTube. The fur may be flying over on Twitter, too. To catch all the Twitter action, be sure to follow both @isaiahmustafa and @oldspice (they both have blue check marks, and both accounts seem to be discussing the duel. Also follow @fabiooldspices. I haven’t seen a hashtag set for this yet, but I’m sure they’ll devise one as they get started. May the games begin!

  2. Edie Ramer says:

    What I find particularly funny is shirtless men who in the book are werewolves but are shown with no chest hair. Shouldn’t they be at least a little furry?

    I saw that about Old Spice. I’ll pick Isaiah any day, but good for Fabio for staying in there.

  3. LOLOL! I hadn’t even thought about it before, but you’re right. The covers are less into hair and more into bare. I absolutely love those Old Spice ads. Hysterically funny.
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Readers Entertainment Reviews In a Treacherous Court

  4. Amy Atwell says:

    Too funny, Edie. Yes, I would think that werewolves might have a bit of fur on their chests. Maybe not as much as Austin Powers.

    The games have started over on Twitter and YouTube. So far, Isaiah is looking pretty dang good.

  5. What an interesting/fun post! Def bare. No hair. LOL

  6. Na S. says:

    I am going with natural bare chest. For some reason waxed bare chest doesn’t leave me feeling any better than a hairy chest. I don’t mind a sprinkling of chest hair though. Moderation is key. 😉

  7. Kris Kennedy says:

    LOL–thanks for noticing the 5 o-clock on the hero on DEFIANT’s. 🙂 Now, if you look close you can actually see hair on his arms and chest, it’s just very light. I love that they kept that in there for him, the cutie pie. 🙂 ( I wonder if it’s more noticeable on the print cover.)

    Men have chest hair, so I say we bring it on, in story words and picture although personally, I’m not a fan of excessive ‘fur.’ I’m in no way taken aback by reading about it.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Thanks for swinging by, Kris–and for lending the cover of your latest (especially since I didn’t even give you a heads up I was using it–SURPRISE!). Like you, I like a natural man. And yes, earworm, I’ll be singing Natural Woman the rest of the day.

  8. MVFreeman says:

    Chest hair or not?
    Well, I prefer natural, but I don’t like “Hairy”. A sprinkling.
    Honestly, I never thought I’d have this conversation and it has me laughing.
    Now I have to go see the Old Spice face off. Who do you want to win? 🙂

  9. A little chest hair please – my husband has maybe five strands, so I like the chance to ogle it on others….

  10. I write historicals, so I think it would be odd for my heroes to wax their chests. But then I don’t imagine my heroines shave their legs, either. I just don’t mention it. I think it’s normal for men to have at least some hair on their chests, but if we’re talking about personal preference, a little goes a long way. I may be a child of the 70s too, but I don’t find Sean Connery’s pelt (or Burt Reynolds’, for that matter) attractive.

  11. Oh, and if I might add… I started reading romances back in the 80s when the heroes were almost all described with loads of chest hair. However, the covers usually showed very little. Remember all those bare-chested Fabio covers? Distinctly lacking in fur.

    I think Kris Kennedy’s model has it just right. 😀
    Ashlyn Macnamara`s last blog was …The Dreaded Second Book Syndrome

  12. Personally, I’ll take whatever the guy has naturally going on. I guess I’m not into the metrosexual guys who wax all over – not for me. So, if the guy has hair . . . better to run my fingers through. 😛

    But, many of the younger guys at my work get waxing done and I’ve run into them at my salon when I got to get my Brazilian wax . . . umm, is that my hypocrisy I hear a-knockin’? Yep. Sure is! 😎
    Robin Covington`s last blog was …Man Candy Mondays – Men and Horses

  13. I can still remember reading The Flame & the Flower (think that was the one) and the phrase ‘crisp mat of hair’. I thought that was so sexy…LOL I’m one of the few who likes a hairy chest, but not overly hairy, like a grizzly bear. *grin* Just a sexy sprinkling that covers the chest, then runs down a sexy, rock hard stomach and disappears into the waistband of a pair of skin tight boxer briefs. 🙂

  14. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Amy,

    Great topic! Personally, I’ll go with natural. If he’s got hair then great and he doesn’t then great. Does no one consider what happens about six-ten hours after the wax job- like ouch! I don’t want a hug (or anything more) when that stubble is coming in!

  15. LOL, Amy! Fun topic ;). I don’t mind real chest hair on real men at all — on book covers, though, I do like to see those rippling abs, and it’s easier to view if there’s no hair there. I’d rather a guy in my life didn’t wax his chest, though, so add me to the group that prefers men to be what they are naturally…
    Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Great Books & Fun Things Ahead

  16. Jill James says:

    I remember reading older books with that trail of hair that led you know where. I thought that was the sexiest thing ever.

    I want there to be a variety. Some with lots, some with little, some with none. Flaunt whatever God gave you.
    Jill James`s last blog was …Writing as a Habit

    • Amy Atwell says:

      Oh yeah, the V of hair spearing down the abdomen like an arrow pointing at…oh my. I could go for that. As for flaunting what God gave you, I am all for it! Bring it on, guys!

  17. Hi Amy,
    Great post! Can I just say, after I turned 35, I like just about all of it. Natural or waxed, hairy or not, it’s all good! 😆

  18. Sandy says:

    An interesting topic, Amy. I like natural. Why remove what is natural. My hubby’s hairs are light, and he has a sprinkling. It’s just right.

  19. A little curly chest hair, please and “down there”, too!
    I’m an Old Spice kind of woman!
    Mary Marvella`s last blog was …Mary and the Coast Guard

  20. Barbara Elness says:

    Personally, I prefer a nice smooth, unhairy chest. There’s something about all that hair that gives me the creeps. I don’t mind a small bit of hair, but the pic of Sean Connery’s hairy chest really made me cringe. I’m an older woman, and grew up in the 60’s, so I don’t think it’s a younger vs. older thing, I think it’s just a preference.

    • Amy Atwell says:

      I wondered if it had something to do with “imprinting,” but now that I think on it, my dad didn’t have a lot of hair on his chest. And, actually, neither of my brothers have chest hair. Isn’t it funny that I’ve never bothered to even THINK about their chests? (Probably better that way–as it is, some psychiatrist will be looking over this blog post and making a note of my name…). Thanks for sharing, Barbara!

  21. Hysterical ad! “I’m on a horse.” 😆

    With bare you see more of the defined muscle. In real life I like a smattering of hair – don’t want his chest to be smoother than mine!

  22. I was a bit sad when my husband started growing more chest hair as he got older (versus none in his very early twenties), so I guess I prefer smooth. But I’ve noticed some guys at the lake lately are ‘trimming’ their chest hair, or as they say, ‘man-scaping’. Don’t like it. It’s like 5 o’clock scruff on their chest.

  23. catie james says:

    Naturally hairless? No problemo. Ditto for light to medium chest hair, but sportin’ a bad shag carpet (especially one extending beyond the chest towards the shoulder and back region)? 😯 Yeah…not so into that. 😕

  24. Cynthia Eden says:

    LOL, interesting discussion! I’ve found that even if I give my heroes chest hair, that hair doesn’t make it onto the cover.
    Cynthia Eden`s last blog was …IN A TREACHEROUS COURT: Guest Post & Giveaway

  25. Joan Leacott says:

    Hey Amy, I’ve swooned over that particular chest on other covers. Now, I’ve got a gorgeous face to go with it. Thanks.

  26. Lynn R. says:

    I’m beginning to think I’m definitely odd (wo)man out, not just here, but in my day-to-day life, too. See, I really like the fuzzy chests, and having it on the back doesn’t really bother me either!! I really don’t like the waxed look, or the shaved look especially when one goes below (so to speak!). It just doesn’t look “right” to me!

    I’m 53 now, and have felt this way ever since I started noticing guys, back in the late 60’s – early 70’s, when it really wasn’t an issue. Or at least, the waxed/shaved look wasn’t. The amount of natural hair was, of course, but it was an issue in the girls locker room too!!



  27. Angi Morgan says:

    A sprinkling please.
    Fun post, Amy.

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