I’m fairly effete and always have been, so the sight of me with a full beard by age 13 was quite an absurd one for all to see.

This outward sign of my testosterone fuelled teens seemed like a paradox as I merrily whistled along to Madonna and made up new Shirley Bassey show routines in my head. I always felt that my early puberty was a complete curse and the bane of my life. I wanted to grow up glamorous and fey with a sculpted set of smooth abs, not be a virtual werewolf by 20.
By the age of 15 I had legs that looked like they’d been carpeted, a fetching golden-red beard and a chest wig worthy of a 1970s porn star. I wouldn’t have minded so much if it had matched. Instead I had blond hair, dark brown chest chair and a ginger beard.

I was terrible at shaving, always gouging chunks from my face and turning up at sixth-form college covered in plasters and dabbing delicately at my face with blood stained tissues like a Victorian hysteric. Often I’d give up on the whole idea, adopting the ideology that if I continually ignored the hair sprouting from every quarter, then it might go away.

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It didn’t go away. I had to choose: depilation and regular shaving or find another way to carry the look off. As I wasn’t prepared to plait my back hair or adopt a Floella Benjamin beaded look, then painful, irritating hair removal was the only option.

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I’ve endured loss of skin through depilatory creams, nicks and rashes, waxing burns and sprains and strains from contorting myself round to reach the tricky bits. A long term partner preferred the hairless look so I spent hours each month painfully erasing every trace of hair growth on my chest and shoulders.
I experienced an epiphany in recent years as I realised that at my advanced age (let’s just say I’m over 35) I can choose what I like. My preference on a man is for body hair as long as it’s not beyond the pale. I don’t expect any man to present me with a Mexican style handlebar moustache in his trousers. That’s just absurd. I actually find well tended body hair quite attractive.
So, I accept my body for what it is now and that’s that it’s hairy. It comes that way. If I’ve got the time, I trim and prune. Otherwise, I don’t actually care. Now, ear hair and my straggly eyebrows: that’s a whole different matter. That may take another 40 years to come to terms with.
About the author: Chris Bridges
Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He's usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.

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