Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"There is Something Radical About That Patch of Hair"

Writes Noah Michelson about the above image of Nick Jonas:

It's a beautiful photo, but it's also one that you'll rarely see in mainstream media because of one thing: the small patch of hair fanning out across Jonas' lower back and creeping down his ass crack.

An appreciation of body hair in our culture has waxed and waned over the years. Today the male bodies presented to us (and especially to young men and women) as enviable and desirable are often hairless. . . . And when we do see body hair in magazines or movies, it's always controlled and coiffed and constrained to the chest and stomach. Remember the funniest scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin? It was when Steve Carell got his torso waxed. Whenever that scene plays, we hold our collective breath as Carell undergoes his metamorphosis, mesmerized by the agony (and his hilarious reaction to it) but also relieved by the taming of the beast before our eyes and his implied transformation from wild man into gentleman.

Hairy backs and asses are even bigger jokes. If you have one (and many, many men do), you can't be the leading man; you're someone's gross dad or lecherous bad date.

Until now?

Nick Jonas is certainly no one's creepy uncle, and he's not a niche figure who doesn't get a lot of traction in Hollywood. He's a 22-year-old bona fide celebrity whose tax return may very well list his occupation as "heartthrob." So when I saw his hairy lower back and ass, which could have been erased easily via Photoshop, I got excited because I felt I was seeing what maybe, just maybe, could be interpreted as a breakthrough.

I can already see the comments section of this blog post filling up with responses like "Who cares?" and "Why is this news?" And you're right: This isn't "news." No one else even seems to be thinking, much less writing, about this photo. But before you write me off as just another garden-variety perv (which is totally valid most of the time), I hope you'll consider how important visibility is for creating change.

As more and more queer people come out and we gain more and more "possibility models" (as Laverne Cox has so eloquently put it) in the media, we feel more permission to be exactly who we are, and I believe the same is true for body image. Imagine being a 22-year-old guy and feeling ashamed about your own hairy back or hairy ass and seeing that image. Or imagine being an 18-year-old young woman and seeing that photo and having to readjust your idea of what sexy is. Even in queer culture, with our bears and otters and cubs and wolves, we're no stranger to shaming bodies – our own and each other's – and tiny, but visible, moments like this one are important for us too.

I'm not claiming that this photo is some kind of furry panacea for all that ails us. Of course Nick Jonas' body conforms to (or surpasses) societal norms in many ways, and seeing it could inspire body shaming or set unrealistic expectations for some people. I'm also not claiming that men shouldn't shave or wax or laser their bodies if that's what they prefer, but I would like to at least raise the question of why hairlessness is the preference for so many of us and address the stigma that often comes with being hairy. And let's face it: Jonas isn't exactly hirsute, but I believe there is something radical about that patch of hair – however small, however innocent – climbing out of his jeans in the pages of Flaunt. And I think it's worth pointing out and talking about, because this is how our culture begins to change – one image at a time – and because I want to celebrate progress – however modest – wherever I find it, even (especially?) if it's in Nick Jonas' hairy ass crack.

See also the previous posts:
Beauty and the Beard
Talking Scruff
Going Floral
"Don't Fence Me In"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Moon Hare

Image: "Moon Hare" by Rachel Toll, a watercolour artist based in Devon. Says Toll: "I love painting and gain inspiration from the landscapes, wildlife, the coasts of Devon and Cornwall."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Art of Jim Ferringer

"My goal as a photographer is to depict
my vision of male beauty through my lens."

To view more of Jim's work and/or purchase his art, click here.

See also the previous posts:
The Art of Juliusz Lewandowski
The Art of Felix d'Eon
The Art of Herbert List
The Art of Joe Ziolkowski

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

Boys Will Be Boys VIII

Image: Subject and photographer unknown.

See also the previous posts:
Just in Time for Halloween
Hallowtide Transformations
Halloween Hare

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bel Homme

Image: Subject and photographer unknown.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Curious Fact

Writes Simon Carnell in Hare:

Unlike rabbits with their well-known propensity to multiply to extreme pest and even plague proportions . . . hares generally regulate their population density at levels far below the carrying capacity of a given environment. . . . The apparent self-regulation of their numbers by hare populations in general has led to at least the speculation that their social behavior must be more complex than previously thought -- though 'speculation' is very much the operative word. It remains a curious fact that hares have been relatively little studied, with even their primary characteristics and behaviors remaining open to much further inquiry.

Image: Jon Evans.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hare Décor VII

Hare Décor: Jim Shore. Background Décor: Doug Abbott. Photography: The Leveret.