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Love Wool Find A Way

I'm a 20-year-old white guy, average-to-good-looking. I work out regularly, so my body is in great shape. It's my body hair that's the problem. It's long and thick and it's slowly encroaching on every bare inch of my body -- from my ears to my back to my ankles. I'm extremely self-conscious and embarrassed by this. I realize the smooth look is most popular. From a woman's perspective, how important is it for a man to be hairless? Is this something every woman desires?

--Sasquatch, Jr.

"HEY, BABY, wanna come cornrow my back?" doesn't exactly top the list of women-winning pickup lines, and that isn't because most women prefer a man who wears his back hair in a French twist.

Yes, you do have a big, hairy problem. You think it's that you're a white guy with dreadlocks...on your arms. That you've got ankle fur thick enough to break the heart of a Standard poodle. That other men get told they look Irish or Italian, but women want to know whether you're woolly mammoth or bighorn sheep.

Actually, the full-body 'fro you've been growing is nothing an expert barber, beautician, or gardener who specializes in trimming hedges into frolicking reindeer can't handle. More on that in a moment. But, first, let's meet the 800-pound gorilla: How you feel about your fur.

You're ashamed on behalf of your hair follicles. But why? They're not out robbing liquor stores or beating up third-graders and stealing their lunch money. They're simply putting out a lot of hair, which is the one job hair follicles are supposed to do. Sure, Sasquatch, there are a lot of women out there who want men like those they see in fashion magazines, the majority of whom have bodies that look a little less hair-bearing than a porcelain teapot (and probably have boyfriends to match). Those women will never be into you -- not even if you make it your life's work to avail yourself of one or more of the many modes of hair removal: Epilating, depilating, plucking, waxing, sugaring, laser hair removal, electrolysis, and/or death by fire -- the only truly permanent technique.

There are, however, quite a few women who are hot to find a grizzly boy like you. These bear hunters have one noteworthy thing in common with the bare hunters: disdain for mopey, self-loathing, aspiring boyfriends. Confidence is king, furry boy! Parade around as if you like yourself, every hairy little inch, and you might make your much-tufted way into the arms of a girlfriend.

This isn't to say that you should "just be you." Nobody should. That's why there's a megabucks deodorant business. I'm not suggesting you resort to hair-removal -- painful and expensive -- just that you opt for a little hair-management. Use an electric trimmer to mow your body hair down from, say, old-growth forest to suburban lawn (about a quarter-inch in length). Avoid taking it down to stubble (no woman wants to get road rash in exchange for a hug). Phone around to find an old-time barber to mow your back (probably $10-12). To prune your nostrils and ears, order one of those battery-operated whirligigs sold in airline seat-pocket periodicals. Of course, tiny scissors and great eyesight could do the job. It's just that they lack the fringe benefit of the whirly things -- the power to sculpt an inspiring message of hope in your chest hair: something like "Fur a good time, call..."

Copyright ©2002, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, "The Advice Goddess," which appears in over 70 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.