Anthony Weiner: What does the pretty boy congressman's lack of chest hair signify about the current ideal of male…

Arts, entertainment, and more.
June 10 2011 4:01 PM

Pretty Boys

A few thoughts on Anthony Weiner's lack of chest hair.

(Continued from Page 1)

In any case, let's suppose that the filmic '50s actually ended in 1962, when a modestly hirsute Sean Connery hit the beach as Her Majesty's Sex Symbol in Dr. No. Then let's go a step a further and credit the British, generally, with encouraging furry fronts. The phrase "chest toupee" has appeared in the New York Times exactly twice, first in a 1966 Russell Baker column classing that hairpiece as a London fad to rank with the miniskirt. (The other occurred, seven itchy years later, in a humorous travel article about how to impersonate an Italian.) "What explains this English obsession with hair?" Baker wondered. I don't care—nor do I want to peer too deeply into the flocculence of an era that sometimes equated unruliness with liberated authenticity, as embodied by, say, Joe Namath.

I will point out, however, that the muscle-culture action heroes of '80s Hollywood wore no hair on their chests; that when Daniel Craig is shirtless as 007, he is clean from chin to treasure trail; and that an agonized chest-waxing is now a common trope in popular entertainments that dare to reckon with postmodern masculinity. The torture-by-tonsure scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin is a certified classic; The Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt, a recent memoir by the cross-dressing book-party animal Jon-Jon Goulian, finds the author likening his first waxing to a moment in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle where a Japanese soldier is skinned alive. Trends in menswear—high and low, from the plunging necklines of Milan menswear to the American Apparel deep V-neck—would seem to reward those who believe, "No pain, no urbane." This is not mention that a race of people plugged into smartphones and MP3 players all day long are closer to machines than to animals and that it is only fitting they should be as glabrous as androids.

Advertisement

What does all of this mean for Weiner? Try considering his perfidy in light of Skinner's Weekly Standard thoughts on non-piliferousness: "What has been lost as the hairless man, an eternal boy, has become our male ideal? Real romance, for one significant thing. The hairless man is perhaps searching for romance, but only insofar as it supplies self-fulfillment." This strikes me as prescient. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to pluck the first gray strand I've ever noticed on my sternum.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful, a new book argues.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 30 2014 1:23 PM What Can Linguistics Tell Us About Writing Better? An Interview with Steven Pinker.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.