18 February 2012

What's a Bear?

For as long as I've been in the "bear community," there's been debate over what defines a "bear." To some, the man has to have a belly, beard, and body fur. To others, just facial hair. And yet some think a little sprinkling of chest hair is enough to be called a bear. (I know that I'm not a bear bear....hence my term "behr." But this isn't about me. For once.)

As I've shared, I'm on the mobile app GROWLr, which basically is like GRINDr, Scruff, and other "pleasure seeking" mobile applications. As I peruse the profiles of various men, I am often a bit surprised at who considers themselves "bears." For example...the following three have attached the label "bear" or "muscle bear" to themselves. Now I admit these are healthy looking men. And definitely "muscle" guys.

This guy doesn't seem to have a single solitary hair on his body. Where does "bear" fit in here?
This guy has a skinny goatee...and maybe a fine dusting of hair on his chest (although it's not a great picture and difficult to see).

This third guy has the beard scruff going (I'm jealous, to be honest) but otherwise...I'm still not reading "bear" in his appearance. (That's okay...I'd still do him.)
Now I've selected four random other guys who - in my opinion - are "bears:" 

I consider this man a bear because of his size, facial hair, and body fur...he looks muscular with a thin layer of cushioning. 
This is a nice beefy muscle bear...note the beautiful belly and gorgeous chest with the fine covering of fur. The glasses and goatee and shaved head make him particularly bearish.
Another fine example of a bear...the bulk, the fur, the beard, the gorgeous eyes...tell me you don't want to cuddle the hell out of him.
Bear...perhaps cub...the beard, the belly, the fur....yes I know you're seeing a trend here. Beautiful man just right for cuddling. And other activities.

There are those who subscribe to the "it's how you identify/feel inside" theory of being a bear. And I admit....I think there's some truth to that. But over the past few years I've noticed that many of the men who have profiles on the (many) online websites are gym rats who have let their body hair grow out. The bear community used to be all-inclusive of bears, cubs, otters, chubs, chasers...but now it seems that the "musclebear" has infiltrated and is now calling the shots. Do a Google image search on "gay bear" and the first ten results are muscle guys covered in fur...where are the bellies? I'm not talking chub necessarily (although that's how I now identify) but even bears have a bit of a belly...look at that last guy again. 

So my question is this: does it matter? What makes a bear? Is it fur? Is it attitude? Is it a beard?



Miss Ginger Grant said...

I like musclemen and I like bears, but they are not at all the same thing! The 2nd "bear " is my favorite! A big mountain of a man- now THAT's what I'm talking about!

mistress maddie said...

Well, a bear to me is any guy, like these, that dwarf me in many ways!!!!! I love bear guys, but I have never dated one yet. I do have some bear friends that take me camping, and I always seem to be a hit with them. One of these days! But the second batch of pictures seems to be what bears are from what I have seen, and my bears friends would call the first batch musclemen.

Cubby said...

The bear community has a nice reputation for being all-inclusive, but the fact is that's just a fable. There are plenty of folks in the community who are separatists and exclusionary. My mind keeps going back to the time in Cleveland I went to a bear night night at one of the bar and the guy at the door said, "oh I'm sorry, this is bear night. You don't belong here". Some other guy told him to shut the fuck up and let me in, but the night was already ruined. I wasn't hairy enough or large enough or masculine enough or old enough or who knows what. Whatever the problem was, it let me feeling pretty bad.

More recently I had a guy on the internet tell me I'm not part of the bear community because I don't look old enough. That's bullshit. I'm 45 and look every bit of it.

I think a bear is first and foremost anyone, and I mean ANYONE, who thinks of himself as a bear. And that should be the end of it.

Anonymous said...

I think a bear is yet to be figured out. It changes with time, next thing you know....A bear is Gonna be you, it can be me. Maybe there isn't a definition for "Bear" in the gay community, it's just a label you put on people to make them "fit in". When I imagine a Bear, I see him the way you described as well as showed in the last 3 pictures. (the One with glasses is my fav.) but to the guy next door, a bear is all muscle and no fur. So we continue to ask ourselves, "What is a bear?" what is a bear is a cub, what is a cub is a baby, what is a baby is what he grows to be. What he is labeled... is nothing but a label.


Wonder Man said...

a bear is a big ole hairy guy. Not built, but thick