Japan’s depilation revolution: Smooth skin is in for men

September 9th, 2010 by Felicity Hughes

According to the makers of Mudage Jolie (Unwanted Hair Jolie), too much male body hair is a serious turn off. The words “NG (no good)” and “not sexy” are stamped across an image of a man sporting a bushy chest rug. While the Mudage Jolie is designed to thin over abundant body hair, some companies like Ya-Man are suggesting men get rid of body hair altogether. Their recent advertising campaign for a product called No!No! for MEN features three hairless Western men frolicking happily about, until a hairy gorilla gatecrashes the party.

With so many hair-removal products on the market, are we really to believe that Japanese men are now so averse to body hair that they’ll shave their chests, legs and armpits? Being the curious type, I asked a friend – we’ll call her Midori – who works at a laser hair removal clinic for the inside scoop. “Yes, I have male customers at my clinic,” Midori said. “There are a lot more than there were five years ago. The treatments they get are all the same as ladies get – hair removal from legs, arms, chest, back, bottom, tummy, face, etc.”

Midori said the reasons vary: Some clients are transgender and some just don’t want to be bothered shaving their beards every morning. “The most common (treatment) is beard removal or reduction,” she said. Although beards or designer stubble can be seen on the streets and even occasionally on TV, bearded men are often perceived negatively in Japanese society. Outside of hipster circles, there’s a general feeling that men who sport beards or 5 o’clock shadows are too lazy to shave and might be sloppy in other areas of their lives.

The municipal government of Isesaki in Gunma Prefecture even went so far this year as putting a ban on beards for all male employees after they received complaints from citizens who said they found bearded men “unpleasant.” While a first for local government, this is not an isolated case: The Yomiuri Giants insist on clean shaven players and Seven-Eleven Japan Co refuse to hire bearded men.

Whether it be professional or aesthetic decision, smooth-skinned, hairless men are on the rise. So what’s your take on hair-free men: turn on or a turn off?

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