Tuesday, August 5, 2008

9 Should Men Race Shirtless?! That Depends on the Man in Question....


OK, I just read this recent post from "Ask Miles" of Runner's World (dated August 5, 2008) entitled "Is it OK to race without a shirt?" & I just had to weigh in & voice my opinion on the topic.

I have to say that women are often the ones with the very strong opinions in these instances, especially when it comes to the male body hair issue, and frankly, I'm no exception. ;-)

I'm sure that what I am about to say will very likely offend some people, but I frankly really don't care, because it just NEEDS to be said. To echo Miles's sentiment on the topic, often the people who most need to hear it (unfortunately!) usually aren't the ones reading these sorts of posts in the first place.

Now to be fair, it's not exactly earth-shattering to acknowledge that BOTH men & women tend to be typically VERY judgmental when it comes to a woman's appearance, so much so that a little dishing out of practical advice to the gentlemen's corner every now & then wouldn't exactly be unwarranted. Because, if you can dish it out, then you should certainly be able to take it once in a while! ;-)

Speaking of which, I'm going to air a personal pet peeve of mine: It's high time that many men & women in general stop being hypocritical & excluding themselves from their own microscopic examination & finger-pointing which they are constantly directing towards others. (It's probably best not to dwell on these sorts of minutia in the first place!) At any rate, it's important to look at your own face in the mirror first, and then decide which person it is with whom you're really finding fault. In a word, people need to practice what they preach. If a person complains about not wanting to look at other people's "unsightly bits" (picking at other people's faults like some catty, trashy tabloid rag!), then they shouldn't even THINK about showing them in public themselves!

On this note, I just want to state for the record that when it comes to the above issue (of concealing one's "unsightly bits" in public), I dispense advice as a person who "walks the walk, & talks the talk." You certainly won't catch me in public wearing ill-fitting or unflattering athletic apparel (& the same goes for regular street clothes for that matter). And I'm certainly not going to be wearing apparel that reveals anything I'd rather not have the public see. ;-)

However, the larger point which I'm trying to make is that, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, I would think that, regardless, you'd want to take some pride in your appearance, not in terms of being vain, but as a sign of self-respect & also respect towards others. In other words, please take a bit of well-meant advice from a woman who also, BTW, just happens to be a fashion consultant, & actually has both your best interests & the interests of the general public, at heart. ;-)

Having said all of that, I will now mercilessly weigh-in on the matter: Men, for the love of all that is good & holy, PLEASE I'm begging you, please, if you look like the equivalent of a human Furby, please keep your shirt on! I know it might sound cruel, but it's really distasteful for the rest of us to have to look at, & I'm sure you wouldn't like it if we women suddenly started parading around with unshaven legs & underarms. [So men, if you don't like viewing any excess body hair on us, then you can atleast similarly recognize that the majority of us ladies really don't like it all that much on you either! I'm not asking you to start shaving your legs -- that'd be one step too far (!), but at the very least, either cover or get rid of the hair on your back & shoulders!]

(OK, regarding female body hair, I'm going to issue a "NO comment" on the practices of other countries around the globe that do not generally subscribe to this notion. All I will say is that, in order to compensate, it's going to be the particularly hairy women who will most likely need to crank up the use of soap & deodorant, BIG TIME! ;-) And I say this as a well-travelled woman, who's come into contact with MANY different cultures all over the world. The American habit of frequent showering is one habit that would make the world a better smelling place. And believe me, there are some Americans could certainly benefit from subscribing to that habit too!)

Anyhow, as this is not a primer in body hygiene, let's just say that the point is that it's important to look your best on race day. Not only will you will be displaying the best possible "you," but it also will immeasurably boost your confidence on race day. Respect the event, respect yourself, & respect the other people at the event. And if that means keeping your shirt on during race day, then by Jove, please DO IT!

And I don't mean you've got to look as buff as this, in order to be able to take your shirt off:

Although I certainly wouldn't complain. ;-) Bear Grylls is one sexy, smart, & very fit (!) man.

To clarify a bit further: A requisite amount of chest hair is perfectly acceptable. That's natural & normal-looking. But that's not what bothers me. It's the back view. It's one thing to have a trace amount of back hair, which is somewhat bearable, but looking like the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest on the back end is yet quite another!

If I had my choice, I'd personally rather look at a smooth, skinny man than an overly hairy buff one any day of the week.


Frankly, visual pollution of any kind is just a big no-no in my book, & that is a directive that goes across the board, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or any other category. I don't care if you're a purple Martian; keep your hairy feelers tucked in where they belong. ;-)

Unfortunately, the world seems to be beset by individuals who went out of the house without first checking in the mirror. And the dual epidemics of people wearing clothing that's either too baggy or too-tight just MUST be stopped. [Also, while we're at it, I'm going to add the belly (or "half") shirt (especially for those over 20) on that list as well. And the muffin-top look is yet another look that just needs to GO! Ladies & gents, I entreat you, please-oh-please wear pants & tops that FIT YOU! It just can't be comfortable to wear, & it looks rather painful too!]

But displaying a hairy back & shoulders that would rival an orangutan's just trumps any of that. As I said earlier, furry pelts on the front side are OK in my book, but when the hair starts creeping (or rather, "sprouting) out from the "disconcerting places" -- i.e., the ears, shoulders, back, & other places -- then THAT's really not so attractive. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about here, even if your man has a blank stare on his face when it comes to this topic. ;-0

Basic grooming & hygiene are just common sense. And at that, people (and by people, I actually mean adult men who apparently have their heads up their @#$es!) should just know better. Didn't their parents teach them anything?! It often makes me wonder.

And at that, I haven't even begun to scratch the surface in this post about what constitutes an appropriate wardrobe for a grown man's lifestyle. There are some basics that every man (woman, & child!) should know. But as this blog is not about Fashion 101, I'll stop short of a fashion dissertation. (You can visit my fashion blog if you want a lesson in that.)

But back to the back hair issue. (Hahahaha, what a pun.)

Ladies, how many of you have longed to say the very same things to your man, your father, or your brother, but just didn't have the guts or the heart to do so?! Well, trust me, dispense just a little dollop of honesty -- delivered as quickly & as kindly as possible, with minimal emoting-- & the rest of the world will most certainly thank you! Either that, or drop him a not-so-subtle hint by emailing him a link to this post. ;-0

And men, if you are particularly hirsute, might I suggest some waxing or laser hair removal? People might not say it to your face, but that shag carpet you've been sporting on your back like some kind of prized Russian sable pelt -- the very one you've been unwittingly flashing to the rest of the world, whether it be on the beach, or on the road -- is probably scaring away half of the population, & the other half are probably running in the other direction, half-witless & trying to burn the image out of their brains.

Whomever invents permanent hair removal (& I'm not talking about lasers, because they aren't always permanent) will be a freakin' millionaire, and a savior to the rest of us who don't want to look at all of that messy, nasty stuff.

So men, please -- the majority of us ladies take the effort to shave our legs & underarms, & even do a bikini wax -- the very least you can do is take care of your shoulders & back!

And while we're at it, would it be too much to ask to occasionally trim your eyebrows, your nails, & your nose hairs as well!?!

When it comes to grooming & hygiene, it's the little things that matter, & if you want any chance in hell of attracting a mate or making a good impression on your boss &/or your co-workers, you'll definitely want to take the time to take care of yourself. Heck, do it for yourself, if for nobody else.

Whether you like it or not, your personal appearance matters. And it's not a question of being shallow. It's a question of self-respect & taking the time to take care of yourself. (And by self-care, I'm also including taking the time to exercise, sleep, eat right, & take care of your physical & mental health/development.)

Looking & feeling your best simply makes you feel good from the inside out. And that's something which can affect you on a very profound level.

OK, that's a wrap.


Blaine Moore said...

Now really, were 6 paragraphs of disclaimers really necessary? It was pretty obvious from the get go what your opinion was going to be. Multiple on this notes just weren't necessary. It's okay to come right out and say, "If you are hairy, I don't want to know about it."

cyberpenguin said...

Ah yes, that might very well be true, but then there's humor in the telling of it all. ;-) I obviously included the disclaimers as a way to make people laugh, & not necessarily to write the perfectly crafted op-ed piece. ;-)

Yes, I often meander, but the meandering is done to amuse people, & not because I can't get to the point. ;-) (I have in fact written pieces where I do get to the point! Really, I have! ;-) )

cyberpenguin said...

You do have a point. I could probably have written a much tighter piece. Since it was the first time I expressed anything like this, I went at it slowly, & then built up to the big "KA-POW!" ;-) I think that it took me a while to find the courage to just come out with it & say it.

But now that the door's been opened, look out! Hahahaha.

Andrew is getting fit said...

As always, I believe in equality of the sexes. So if men can run shirtless then women should be able to as well. :)

cyberpenguin said...

Hahahaha, you are the best, Andrew! ;-)

Abimars said...


barethomas said...

Greetings, Cyberpenguin.
A trenchant piece with just the right twist of irony. Tasty.

I was wondering whether you might consider penning a guest post for a new blog I've just started, Running Shirtless. It's admittedly supportive of shirtless running (I'm one who began dissing it and now practise it) but I hope it will offer a range of views, including critical ones as may be the case.

(The invitation to visit, comment and guest-post is extended to also extended to any of your readers).

Regards, Thomas

barethomas said...

Sorry, this isn't a further comment, so please feel free to excise; I simply forgot to include the URL of the blog:


Sorry about that.

cyberpenguin said...

Hello Thomas,

Thanks for the comments & the invitation to pen an article for your blog. What exactly did you have in mind? Also, can you tell me how the guest spot would work & what the time commitment would be? Are you asking me to simply resubmit the piece I wrote for my blog, or write something new?

I would possibly consider resubmitting my article for publication on your blog, as long as the article is printed exactly, word-for-word as it appears on my blog, & you credit me with full authorship in the post's title & link back to both my blog & the original article as it appears here on my blog.

While I'm certainly flattered at the guest spot invitation, I must tell you up front that, I presently don't have the time to commit to an ongoing guest blogger spot right now. If you'd like to republish the article on your blog, please check with me & obtain my express permission before doing so. Thanks!

As you probably already realize, I'm obviously not against men being shirtless as a general rule; I'm just in favor of the more hirsute ones not exposing their hairy shoulders & backs in public, or, if they still feel the need to go shirtless, strongly urge that they take the necessary "grooming steps" so that these areas aren't so unpalatable for others to gaze upon in the public space.

Anyhow, you can either email me or comment here, if you'd like to get in touch with me. I'm also on twitter as @cyberpenguin, if you'd like to connect there as well.

Best wishes,

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