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What’s Great About Having a Hairy Chest, According to Science

Being a hairy man isn't so bad, research shows.

A hairy chest can be a source of insecurity for some men, with beaches, public pools, and yard work on hot days all potential locales of shame for hairy guys. But if you’re one of those hairy-chested men across who questions the purpose of his fur, science has discovered many benefits that come part and parcel with more hair on the pitch. Certainly, some hairy men may elect for electrolysis, shaving, or waxing. And there are those out there who, through sheer chance, have ended up with a baby-smooth bod. But for those on the fence as to whether trim, science has a few things to say about your chest hair before it goes.

A Hairy Chest Might Mean You’re More Intelligent 

The hairier the chest, the smarter the man, at least according to one survey that found nearly 50 percent of medical students were considered “very hairy” compared to 10 percent of the general population. (We’d love to know exactly how they surveyed this, but data is data.) Although the research is dated, another study found that a majority of Mensa members, or the genius club, had thick chest hair as well. It’s not completely clear why hairy men seem to be more intelligent on the whole. And it’s entirely possible that this is a coincidence. However, it may just as well be true that hairy men choose to stay in and study instead of being shamed at pool parties.

Your Chest Hair Might Match Your Father-in-Law’s Hairy Chest

Oddly, studies suggest your chest hair might resemble that of your father-in-law. The hypothesis is that women’s preferences in chest hair could be heritable from their mothers. It also may be a result of sexual imprinting — that is, women select men who remind them of their fathers. Regardless, hairy men may not want to be shirtless with their in-law lest they recognize some uncomfortable commonalities. Bonus: You now have a surefire get-out-of-in-law-pool-party card that your partner will be loathe to argue against.

Chest Hair Is Popular Among Older Women 

Despite the fact that testosterone levels influence chest hair, women are not that into it when they are at their most fertile, according to a study of nearly 300 women. Researchers found that more fertile women opted for men with less chest hair. However, postmenopausal women preferred more chest hair. So for men who look like they’re always wearing sweaters, enjoy your one-way ticket to Cougartown. But for the hairy father who’s not ready to expand his family further, consider chest hair a second form of birth control. (Trust us, all the sensation is still there.)

Uneven Chest Hair Is Normal

In 1965, chest hair was categorized into 15 unique patterns, spanning four separate areas of the chest based on a study of 1,400 men ages 17 to 71. Sternal, infraclavicular (below the collarbone), pectoral, and circumareolar (areola) hair make up the four areas where chest hair grows, with a majority of it growing on the pecs and sternum. The most common pattern was the pecto-sterno-infraclavicular pattern, where the breast, sternum, and end of the clavicle are hairy. This early research established that it was common for men to have asymmetrical chest hair that followed different patterns on each side. In other words — whatever odd chest hair you have, you’re probably not alone.

It Could Always Be Worse

Even the hairiest man in the world could’ve been hairier if history had taken an alternative route, scientists suspect. Although early hominids were covered in body hair as a way to keep warm, about 3 million years ago their fur stopped serving that purpose and started put them at risk of overheating. Thanks to natural selection, humans shed excess hair and evolved to sweat instead. So no matter how hairy you are, it could always be worse — you could have inherited the chest of Australopithecus (or Steve Carell).