Growing up, the only time I ever felt insecure about being Asian American was when my non-Asian friends made fun of me for lacking body hair. At the time, I had no hair on my legs, chest, or forearms. They on the other hand had hair everywhere – including their backs! I desperately wanted body hair. I even considered shaving my legs to help facilitate hair growth there.
I didn’t know this until I started “researching” this article, but body hair is one of the traits men often exaggerate in order to inflate their masculinity. This is known as hypermasculinity.
According to Wikipedia, “Hypermasculinity is a psychological term for the exaggeration of male stereotypical behavior, such as an emphasis on physical strength, aggression, BODY HAIR, body odor, and virility.”
If Yahoo! Answers is to be believed, I’m not the only one asking this question:
And then there are teachers out there who perpetuate the idea of the hairless Asian:
I’m not the only one who has been made to feel insecure about this. On this forum I found this very sad post by an Asian American kid asking if his hairless body was “normal”:
It’s that last part that gets me because I’m pretty sure I felt the same way when I was this guys age. For all Asian kids out there, I want to find out the truth. Is there something to this stereotype? Do Asians really have less body hair than other races?
The first answers I found seemed to confirm the stereotype. Wikipedia describes “Mongoloid” as “hav[ing] little or no facial or body hair.” And most sites seemed to agree. I found this one particularly “enlightening” (I use that word very loosely):
People classified as Asians are physically different in some ways from people of European descent. In almost all cases Asians have straight, black hair and dark eyes. They also tend to have less body hair, less facial hair, flatter faces, smaller noses, wider cheekbones, and “shovel-shaped” incisor teeth (front teeth whose back side has a slightly scooped out shape).
And according to this very questionable article, The Hairiest Cultures Around the World, the only category where Asians make the list are the Ainu, the indigenous peoples of Japan, which according to the article have the longest beards (but only because they don’t shave all their lives).
Is this all for real? I couldn’t find a definitive source telling me that the statement “Asians have less body hair than everyone else” is wrong. The best I could find was this, “Sure, there’s a lot of variation among human populations. Some of us are hairier than the others, while others of us aren’t.” And out of everything I read, my gut says that it feels the most right. Like any stereotype this one should be taken with a grain of salt. There are hairy Asians and non-hairy Asians. I’ve seen both with my own eyes! In fact, since my high school days I now have hair on my chest! (Don’t believe me? I’ll send you a pic!) Just like I’m sure there are hairy Caucasians and non-hairy Caucasians out there. (If you are a non-hairy Caucasian send me a pic at koji[at]8asians.com and I’ll post it! No c*ck shots please.)
One thing that age has given me is perspective. Is having little to no body hair even a bad thing? I searched around and other than a few (bad) jokes about feeling like you’re having sex with minors, many women and men seemed to prefer non-hairy partners:
And there is even a shirt proclaiming love for hairless Asian men!
Not sure who in the world would buy such a shirt but the world is a little better place for me now that I know it exists.
I’d like to end this article with a message to the bullies who tormented my hairless body. You guys were just jealous and insecure about your own hairy bodies. I see that now. I forgive you. But I hope you know that in a future life you will come back bald (if you aren’t already).