The New York Times, 2016

Welcome Back, Chest Hair

Eric Shoemaker, who works in public relations in Los Angeles, has moved on from the waxed look.
Eric Shoemaker, who works in public relations in Los Angeles, has moved on from the waxed look. Credit…Brinson & Banks for The New York Times

By Max Berlinger

  • May 3, 2016

Shortly after he finished college, Eric Shoemaker, a 34-year-old Los Angeles-based public relations executive, allowed his chest hair to grow out. “I don’t know if it was my age or becoming comfortable with myself,” he said, “but the thought of getting waxed — which makes your hair follicles bleed and you get ingrown hairs — you have to ask who you’re doing it for.”

Mr. Shoemaker’s decision came more than a decade after those touchstone Calvin Klein ads, featuring a smooth-torsoed Mark Wahlberg (then known as Marky Mark), popularized the hairless look, which was further endorsed in the next decade by the hit TV show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

Similarly, Gabriel Santos-Rocha, a 31-year-old model manager, stopped depilating roughly eight years ago, in his early 20s. “I thought that the ideal body had no hair,” he said. But frustration with all the upkeep nudged him back to his natural state. “I hated dealing with the maintenance and the stubble and the itching that came with it,” Mr. Santos-Rocha said.

The response to his furry physique has been positive. “I’ve never noticed anyone not liking my body hair,” he said.

For a new generation, the overly groomed body appears to be falling out of favor. “We’re seeing a return to ’70s fashion,” said Tim Bess, an analyst at the trend forecasting agency the Doneger Group. “The late ’60s and early ’70s were about freedom, the hippie movement, having lots of hair.”

Mr. Shoemaker at the pool in his apartment complex in West Hollywood, Calif.
Mr. Shoemaker at the pool in his apartment complex in West Hollywood, Calif. Credit…Brinson & Banks for The New York Times

Mr. Bess cited Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac — with his unbuttoned shirts and thatch of chest hair — as a prototype, adding that the preened look seems dated. “It gets a little too perfect, too mannequin-looking,” Mr. Bess said.

Christopher Oldstone-Moore, the author of the 2015 book “Of Beards and Men” and a senior lecturer at Wright State University, in Ohio, believes that an increasingly urban and digitized life has left some men “disconnected from their masculinity.”

“There are different ways to connect to your organic masculinity,” Dr. Oldstone-Moore said. “Hair is one way to do it.”

An unkempt body is a perhaps unforeseen corollary of the lumberjack look that has long since peaked in certain Brooklyn circles. Even the brand 2(x)ist, known for its sleekly textured models, has opted to show its underwear on the hairy frame of Nyle DiMarco, a recent winner of “America’s Next Top Model.”

Tom Speight, the brand’s president, said, “We’ve seen everything from man-buns to full beards go mainstream in recent seasons, and we want to reflect that rugged, a tad unpolished, yet approachable look.”

As with most things, it is probably not a bad idea to be wary of extremes. “I think we’re going to have to walk slowly,” Mr. Bess said. “Because if you go too far with it, it can look a little Neanderthal-y.”

Continue following our fashion and lifestyle coverage on Facebook (Styles and Modern Love), Twitter (StylesFashion and Vows) and Instagram. A version of this article appears in print on May 6, 2016, Section D, Page 6 of the New York edition with the headline: A Trend That’s Altering the Manscape.

See me in the Morning

I remember up until a couple of months ago I would always tell anyone who wanted to hear that I was not a morning person, I was in fact a person of the night, an owl really, looking for fun, food and someone to “mate” with. The night was my zone, I knew all about it, I knew how to be and where to be, no matter where in the world it was.

I always felt terrible about the morning, I guess as a reflection from my childhood, because I remember having to wake up really early to be taken to my grandparents house as my parents had to leave for work, so my day always started at a very early 6am, at the most. I never got a break, it never stopped being like that, the mornings in fact only became more challenging, and so I developed a pattern, of dreading the mornings and being very lazy and/or angry about having to wake up, either to be dropped at my grandparents house, or to go to swimming classes, or school, or work; the morning had always been a huge pain. The evening however was always fun, the family would all be together, watch movies, eat around the dinner table and always have something to share, and as i grew up it continued to be better: parties with school mates, sleep overs, going to clubs, getting drunk and feeling on top of the world.

Well, I don’t know if i have really become a grown up now, or if being a grown up actually has anything to do with it, but things have shifted a little bit. I no longer long for the night and dread the morning, I’ve been loving and admiring the morning just as much as I would the night. Living in New York particularly, I have realized that there is a certain time, usually around dawn in the winter and right after it in the summer when the city is particularly quiet and serene. I don’t know how many people have taken the time and had the opportunity to do this, but follow my advice; take a stroll through New York between 6:30am and 7:30am; you will see and feel the city like never before.

Because night life pretty much dies at 4am and the day life usually starts after 8:30am, there is this window of time, where everything has been cleaned and rearranged for the next day, when the city is just waiting for the next day to begin, and everything is perfectly quiet and in place. Union Square feels like an empty movie set, impeccable, Madison Square Park and its beautiful foliage seems proud of existing, the streets of Greenwich Village have an inexplicable glow and midtown, more precisely Times Square, looks like a postcard picture, minus the people, the smell of garbage, street kebabs and the noisy traffic.

In fact, during the “limbo-hour”, as i like to call it, the entire city probably lives its quieter moment in the day. All deliveries have been made, there are no trucks roaming around, all store fronts are still closed, people are still getting ready for work, and there are usually no work shifts beginning at this hour, so you will only see the occasional person going from point A to B because there is a place to be, or the occasional jogger. In the summer, limbo-hour is particularly special, the day has this beautiful natural light that almost seems fake, and the heat is gentle, followed by a warm-nearly-cool breeze that caresses the skin. Walking calmly and observing the scenery is not only a possibility but a true requirement at this time of day.

Don’t get me wrong now, i haven’t turned my back against the night, i still enjoy it very much, and i would say it’s one of the most exciting and alive times for any city, especially New York, that’s when everyone is out of work, meeting friends, having drinks, extending the happy hour into a night out at the clubs and maybe hitting two or three clubs in the same evening. At night is also a great time to walk around and see the city in a different light, you get to observe things that you usually wouldn’t in the rush of day to day life, the lights are bright and beautiful and no matter what time of the year in New York, the nights are always festive. The holiday season though is when the New York night truly shines, the Christmas lights are out, the ice skating rinks are open and there is a happy glow wherever you look at, especially if the streets are white with snow.

So, what has happened to me i believe, is a simple shift in my heart, i started to admire and love the mornings just as much as i love the nights, and to find balance i have chosen to cut my nights short and add some hours to the morning; instead of sleeping in, i now wake up earlier, take a walk, read the newspaper and try to get to my day earlier, so that hopefully i can also have it finished earlier to enjoy more of the night. And it all comes full circle. It’s a great trade off and i still get to stay away from the afternoons, and that is an entire different issue, but let’s not get there just yet, i am still in my early love affair with the morning after all, i’m honey-mooning.

Have a good day.

Eye of the Beholder

I just finished watching the glorious documentary “Bill Cunningham New York”, and it brought me to my knees. This 84 minute movie contained such a powerful and touching story that it took me to a place – which is how I like to call a certain type of feeling – where I very rarely go to, and it is my dearest and most special place to be. Only two times before had I been this moved, and when that happened I also wrote about it.

One of them, and probably the most mind-blowing one, was in early 2010 when Patti Smith delivered the book “Just Kids”, one of the most beautiful books I ever read. The minute I learned this book was coming out I had a strong feeling, I didn’t read the review, I didn’t know exactly what it was about, but I literally, got up from my chair and went to Barnes and Noble; only to find that the release date would be in another two weeks. Well, eventually I got it, and I cried copiously as I saw my love for the arts was coming alive through those pages.

With Bill Cunningham’s documentary it was my love for beauty that came tearing out through the screen, it was my love for all that is or can be beautiful in this world. Bill said it himself – “if you seek beauty you will find it” – and I could not agree more, it brought tears to my eyes as it did to his, and I felt the most extraordinary connection to this man who is a living legend and a visionary. Bill’s story, like Patti’s, is of a person who feels love through every pore of their bodies, it’s intangible, you can’t explain it, but its there like nobody’s business.

As I watched Bill Cunningham’s life, work, and passion unfolding before my eyes I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down, what I had before me was a man absolutely in love with life, fashion and beauty, a man who didn’t need another person or loads of money in the bank to have happiness, he had it right there, and he lived a full and happy life, with no regrets and many accomplishments.

There is a certain calm and peacefulness that I get from staring at a certain picture sometimes, and I know, that this feeling is all I want to achieve. I know that sometimes, in order to get there i will have to go through some rough patches, and that’s ok, I am not looking for an entire life of fulfillment, love, passion and happiness, but what I want is as many of those “picture staring” moments as possible, I want to feel my heart beating fast and my eyes tearing up as many times as possible, I want to be able to see in other people’s lives what I aim to get for my own, it makes it all more realistic, it makes it less of a fairy tale.

I recently met some very interesting and loving people, they happened in my life like the big bang to earth, and I just accepted them, just like the universe accepted earth when it turned up. One of these marvelous people invited me to a “vision board” party, where they would build vision boards for what they wanted for their future. I could not understand the concept: cutting from magazines and gluing to a cardboard didn’t seem much to me; but I went anyway. What happened to me was an epiphany, I had all these images inside my heart and they simply appeared to me in magazines, and from there they jumped into a board, and that board looks exactly like my life! So, it was just like that, I realized that I do have a full life, and that I do have plenitude and that all I need is in front of me.

I won’t lie to you though: it would be lovely to achieve something really pivotal for mankind… or maybe even just my neighborhood; you know!? And for at least once have someone look at all the things I did and lived through and feel their heart fill up with joy and peacefulness and have their eyes fill up with tears and their hearts fill up with joy; nothing would make me happier than to be able to inspire someone, that would probably be my greatest accomplishment, and also a great compliment.

But you know what!? If that moment never happens, I am totally cool with that, because the tears that rolled down my cheeks today, watching Bill’s life in the movie, were also of recognition of all that I have achieved in my life, and I am a lucky bastard for being able to look inside myself and recognize that, and to see that I am living a full life right now, filled with love, joy and strength; and for all my blue and trying moments I can save a pitiful laughter, for they are powerless in front of my beautifully accomplished vision board of a life.

Take a look at the trailer by clicking HERE.

Times they are a-changing

So, as i sit to write on my computer my text message alert rings on one of my two blackberry smart phones, a conversation is initiated, then a second conversation is initiated with another person, and next thing i know i am having five conversations at the same time. I hate texting, bbm’ing, chatting and all of its similar evolutions, i believe it has made us handicapped, it created a distance even bigger than the one we allowed ourselves when we only had a phone call to count on. I remeber the times when it wasn’t polite to call after a certain time in the evening, and also that you would only let the phone ring a few times and had to wait several minutes until you tried again, i mean, it was part of the telephone etiquette my grandmother taught me.

Nowadays people text and bbm, constantly, and things that could be said in less than 60 seconds are scattered through endless text messages that can go on forever. Nowadays it almost feels like calling someone is a gigantic bother, like you are invading someone’s space. I will constantly hear: “why didn’t you text me?” or: “i can’t talk, i am in a meeting, send me a text”. Well, you can’t talk but you can text? How is that any less disrespectful to the other people in that meeting? How does that not take from what you should actually be doing? What happened that made us so afraid of talking on the phone? Does that mean that one day if they creat holograms we won’t ever need to actually meet people for dinners or conversations? Will we only want to talk to the hologram of a friend? I mean, looking at the way things are shifting, it seems like it could definitely happen. This is the tip of the iceberg.

I once considered myself a very well informed and skillful person when it came to technologies, i was always upgrading my equipment and myself, but then life happened and i acquired more responsibilities and little by little Facebook, Google and finally Twitter started creeping in, and i had no idea what that meant. I remember thinking – what’s the use of this dumb website? Why would anyone care for what i am doing, where i am going or any of that crap? Well, i wasn’t alone, but very rapidly people realized all the money that could be made and all the business that could be generated with little to no money and the social network craze was let lose.

I currently have a blog, facebook and twitter accounts, i probably have other similar stuff around too but i rather not even think of those as these three are already a lot of work to maintain. I have updated myself, i am very much aware of the new medias and i find all of it truly fascinating. I have however seen and lived the decline of several industries, even more so after the financial crisis in 2008, when everything fell to pieces.

When i heard about the documentary “Page One – Inside The New York Times” i was very intrigued and happy to see that finally someone took the time to put the message out there, that there has been an ongoing revolution for several years and still, to this day, many people and corporations do not pay enough attention or understand what is going on. And what a greater way to show the revolution than from inside one of the largest, if not THE largest media outlet in the world: The New York Times. I have watched the documentary and i connected to it in so many levels, of course there were many things left unsaid, but the main message was out there: we have these medias, now how do we handle this revolution? Are we prepared for the consequences?

I saw it happening in front of me, i am a manager at a modeling agency and also work very closely with tv, film and music, which puts me in the middle of a whole other sector of this revolution. For the music industry it started ages ago with illegal file sharing, Napster and so on and so forth. The music industry was probably the first one to bring attention to the new medias. Around that time people started questioning wether newspapers would fall through the cracks given the amount of bloggers making news on their own terms; however i also remember that most people dismissed that idea by saying that all of it was a mere copy of yesterday’s newspaper or information coming from sources that could not be trusted. As the new medias kept evolving and gowing the film and tv industries also started facing piracy and there was another huge propaganda against these medias. Little by little fashion started following the trend too, and utilizing these medias to promote itself, and even though you can’t download a pair of pants, you can certainly buy it online, instead of a catalog, and maybe you can even see a fashion show in real time instead of attending it in Paris or Milan. You can also see a video editorial on a magazine’s website instead of buying the actual magazine, and that is how, little by little the fashion industry silently began to collapse.

When the economic crisis hit in 2008 i moved to New York, i was lucky enough to get a great job at an amaing position in the middle of a sea of uncertainty and lay offs; every company, including mine, was firing almost on a daily basis, i saw huge fashion conglomerates filing for bankruptcy – as i still do – and everyday as i walked around in New York i would see those awful boxes walking around from one place to another, years of work and dedication compartmented into boxes. It was one of the most terrifying and sad moments of my life, i saw people getting fired daily. I had a failed relationship because my partner had been laid off and for the past four months could not find any job anywhere, so finally the pain and disappointment of seeing a lifetime of work and dedication fall to pieces became so unmanageable that the relationship disintegrated.

What happened in the fashion industry is still not very much talked about, the modeling agencies still don’t pay enough attention to the new medias and allow themselves to fall into these traps made by their clients, who take full advantage of these medias, and the models, by consequence take the worst end of the deal. The rates for models dropped dramatically, several models that had been working for many years all of a sudden became obsolete and huge department stores like Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Macy’s or Bloomingdales simply started cutting back on their bookings for catalogs and advertising and established there own rules, making it either their way or the highway. The modeling agencies, in the midst of a crisis did nothing but nod their heads and move forward, trying to hang on to whatever was left. Because of a lack of unity in this market, we still face a very sad future, no one stands by the agencies, there is no union and the agencies won’t stand by each other. Nowadays work has been reduced to 36 hour image use for online stores, catalogs are outdated, no one needs art directors, the models don’t need to be anyone special, sometimes they won’t even have the models heads in the shot, and because of that they feel entitled to pay close to nothing.

The agencies that sat foot and demand respect for their models lose those clients, but then again, do they rally need them? Isn’t it time new standards are established, new rules are made and people become more aware that there is a bigger picture in stake with this entire evolution and revolution process? This also works for the publishing industry, every day you hear about bookstores closing, publishing houses firing employees and the numbers of book sales dropping by the second. Of course people can now read their books on kindle or ipad, but is that under control? Maybe it is, and maybe that industry is the only one that has their future figured out, but where do we go from here?

The New York Times is not only an American institution, it is a global institution, it is point of reference for the entire world, it’s a newspaper that generates news for several other news outlets accross the world. The New York Times cannot perish. We fight to save education, yet we complain when a newspaper starts charging for viewing its content online. The newspaper is also education, did we all forget about that? Why should that content be free if before this revolution you had to pay to have access to it from the news stand? Why do we feel like we are entitled to have that information for free? Why do we feel we can just declare all newspapers dead and move along to the digital era? What happens with all those people who will lose their jobs? Who will be generating the news? Are those sources trustworthy? Who is going to the battle front to make sure the right story is being told? And where will the money for all of that come from if no one wants to pay for the news? The only reason why some blogs and websites have “free” news is because of press agencies and reliable entities like The New York Times, and i believe people seem to forget that. So, what would happen if all of a sudden the penal system decided to shut down operation to operate on line? What would happen if we could no longer rely on going to appointments with doctors but only on reading about symptoms on Wikipedia? The world would collapse, and the world is collapsing as i type this. This is what Nostradamus and the Mayans predicted as the end of the world, our planet will not be hit by the Armageddon, but it will wear itself out until it becomes unmanageable to keep on living and existing. The same way we disrespected nature, we are now disrespecting each other and ourselves. It’s easy to say you don’t want to pay for a song, or to have access to an article, but try and think of the bigger picture, try to think about the chain reaction caused by those U$2,50 that you are “saving”. A tremor in america today may cause a tidal wave in Japan tomorrow, the same applies to this technological revolution.

“Page One” is one of the most compelling and relevant documentaries made in the last fifteen years, it shows and proves something that has been quietly going on for too long. This, like the “Social Network” registers decisive and revolutionary times in our history, these movies are masterpieces and must be seen by all, must be shown in schools and must be advertised and pushed forward as much as possible. It is our responsibility as fellow human beings to be aware and take action. You can’t turn your face away from the reality, we live in 2011, we may not have flying cars or be ruled by apes, but we are definitely facing something that was beyond anyone’s imagination, and it is wild.

Click HERE for the trailer of “Page One -Inside The New York Times”