When I grew up, in my entire adolescence, I remember only one positive image of back hair. One. As a hairy-backed man, I cannot tell you how meaningful that was.
All other cultural references to men and back hair were negative. All of them. I was a fan of The Pixies from a young age, and who knows – maybe part of the reason I liked them so much was because of their album artwork – a hairy man, beautifully photographed, capturing vulnerability and masculinity together, without judgement, contradiction, apology or explanation. I’ve reproduced it here, without anyone’s permission, so I hope that this will be acceptable, given the context.
So for me, there was someone else. There was another one, I was not alone, and if he didn’t have to be ugly, who did? If he could celebrate his beauty, who couldn’t?
I realised only recently that I can be that guy for the next generation. I can be the guy who says fuck body-shame. Fuck the beauty standard, celebrate yourself. Embrace diversity – don’t just say it while hating the body – embrace it. What does that really mean? It’s confronting.
I don’t want to be the guy who inspires people to become more, to achieve – I want to be the guy who reminds people that it’s okay. It’s okay to be you. Celebrate your uniqueness. Play to your strengths. The status quo (I love blaming those guys!) makes it impossible to see our own beauty, to appreciate our strengths, our character. Fuck that shit. Discover it anyway. It’s harder than pandering to their demands, but it’s worthwhile.
I don’t know if it seems like a little thing or not, but there it was – one beautiful man with a hairy back. And looking back, it really was more meaningful than I can express.