Manscape architects

The background, from 9/3 in my posting “Manscaping your junk”:

A tv spot ad (only 15 seconds long) for the Gillette Intimate Manscape Kit (Gillette Intimate Pubic Hair Trimmer, Gillette Intimate Pubic Hair Razor, Gillette Intimate Pubic Shave Cream + Cleanser), released at least twice, under different titles:

(#1) The Gillette Intimate Manscape Kit

— ‘It’s Not Junk, so Treat It Right’  [apparently it’s your “pubic region” instead], published 10/31/22

— “Respect Your Junk!”, published 3/11/23

Two matters of linguistic interest here: the noun manscaping and verb manscape; and the noun junk ‘male genitals’. The material I’ve collected on these is extensive enough that I’m not going to try to cram it all into one posting, but will split things in two, in follow-up postings on the noun junk and on the noun manscaping / the verb manscape.

The first of these I did two days go (on 9/4), in my posting “From the genital junkyard”. Today it’s manscaping day. Just to remind you, my focus is on vocabulary — the noun manscaping and the verb manscape — not on the practices this vocabulary refers to, of trimming, shaving, and removing male pubic hair.

Nevertheless, the practices provide the background, so a few words on them are in order.

Grooming pubic hair. Extensive treatment, including historical and cross-cultural notes, in the Wikipedia article on pubic hair. Among the topics there: a common Western artistic convention for hairless pubes in nudes, both female and male; the growth of pubic shaving and waxing for women; and this note, which I found surprising:

According to one academic study [Gaither et al., “Prevalence and Motivation: Pubic Hair Grooming Among Men in the United States”. American Journal of Men’s Health. 11 (3): 620–640 (May 2017)], as of 2016, approximately 50% of men in the United States practice regular pubic hair grooming [the 50% figure is what I found surprising], which can include trimming [analogous to the trimming of facial hair, and, for many men, chest hair], shaving and removal. The study found that the prevalence of grooming decreases with age. Of males who groom pubic hair, 87% groom the hair above the penis, 66% groom the scrotum and 57% groom the penile shaft.

(One topic not covered in the Wikipedia entry is the shaving of all pubic hair as a practice of some men who identify as effeminates, part of a smooth-body display across the board: no facial hair, no body hair (on torso, shoulders, legs, forearms, back, buttocks), no pubic hair).

The number of devices and products for grooming male pubic hair is astonishing. Here are three snapped in a store by Victor Steinbok, who was my source for the Gillette Intimate Manscape Kit in #1 and its ads:

Two groomers:

(#2) The Plus One groomer

(#3) The Goodline body + ball groomer

And the Gillette razor (one element of the Intimate Manscape Kit in #1):

(#4) The Gillette Intimate pubic hair razor

Which brings us to the annoying ads — and to manscaping vocabulary.

The noun manscaping, the verb manscape. Not (yet) in the OED or most other standard lexicographic sources (like NOAD and AHD5), but it is covered in an entry on Merriam-Webster’s on-line site, which has several notable features. First, its definition

noun manscaping: the trimming or shaving of a man’s body hair so as to enhance his appearance. verb manscape.

gives us a broader ‘male body hair’ sense (to cover the usage in a 2023 cite), rather than the narrower ‘male pubic hair’ sense I’ve been discussing; it appears that the broader sense is the original one. The M-W cites (“recent examples from the web”):

There are also actual health concerns to manscaping yourself, says dermatologist Evan Rieder, MD. — Garrett Munce, Men’s Health, 20 July 2023

Ashton Kutcher needed some manscaping [AZ: of his chest hair] to prepare for his latest role. — Zizi Strater, Peoplemag, 10 Feb. 2023

Use it wet or dry and with or without the adjustable guards for a truly customizable and comfortable manscaping experience. — Garrett Munce, Men’s Health, 28 Sep. 2022

The M-W etymology:

blend [AZ: that is, portmanteau] of man entry 1 and landscaping, gerund of landscape entry 2.

Then, the first known use is given as 2003, but M-W doesn’t give the source, which a bit of digging tells us is the first season of the tv show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, where the term seems to have been popularized by the Fab Five in the broader sense, most commonly with the trimming or shaving of unwanted hair in ordinarily visible places: unibrows, nose hair, ear hair, lush chest hair.

The verb appears in various on-line dictionaries (, Cambridge Dictionary, Wiktionary, Urban Dictionary, Farlex Dictionary of Idioms) but without sources. However, from

verb manscape: … 2. (neologism) To trim or shave a male’s hair, typically other than the hair atop and behind his head. The term applies most frequently to facial hair, including that of the eyebrows, ears, and nostrils; somewhat frequently to shoulders and back; less frequently to buttocks and pubes; infrequently to arms and legs.

— October 6, 2009, Molly Kissler, How To: Manscape, State Press Magazine:

“”Manscaping, otherwise known as the art of shaving, waxing and cleaning up the superfluous fur on a man…, is a must in this day and age””

— September 30, 2009, Sara DiRienzo, The Art of Manscaping, College News:

“College News presents a working guide of the dos and don’ts of manscaping, taken from suggestions of college students themselves: Dos: …Facial shaving / beard trimming, …Controlling pubic hair, …Embrace leg hair; Donts: Excessive chest hair, Long nose hairs, Ear hair, Adventurous shoulder and back hair, Unibrows, Wild beards… Follow these directions, and you’ll be making sure that the man in your life is properly manscaped.”

— 2007, Jen Lancaster, Bright Lights, Big Ass:

“Is it that hard to manscape? You know, get an electric razor, trim up your shrubbery, blow out your front yard a bit?”

I am, as I have often noted on this blog, a seriously hairy man, an Esau to Jacob’s smoothness. I shave my face, maintaining a small neatly trimmed mustache and a beard patch just large enough to conceal my weak chin (which people are inclined to take as a sign of a weak character and failed masculinity). Otherwise I don’t mess with any of my body hair, certainly not with my pubic hair. (I’m trying to imagine what uncontrolled pubic hair — see DiRenzo above — would be like, wondering what it would mean for pubic hair to run amok). Thing is, I’m happy with my pubic hair as it is; it’s dark brown and springy and smells like me, and it makes a nice nest for my sweet dick. I wash it in warm soapy water every morning, along with my dick and balls, and we all find that pleasant. Why mess with that?


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