Tuesday, November 20, 2007


What do you think the removal of body hair is about? If both men and women naturally grow body hair, does it make sense that our culture breeds people of both genders to find body hair to be disgusting? Does it spring from U.S. history which looked down upon and oppressed people with darker hair, from Eastern Europeans to African Americans? (In other words, is it because it makes people look "ethnic"?) Is it a matter of personal preference? (Something that I think is difficult to argue since distaste for body hair in American culture is nearly universal. Maybe you do genuinely "prefer" to be hairless or sexually "prefer" others to be hairless. How convenient though that your preference is supported and pushed by traditional beauty standards.) Is it an attempt to further an artificial distinction between men and women? Is it about creating a market for hair removal products? Is it about making people focus on individual flaws and in doing so, taking their eyes off the big picture? Is it punishment, self-flagellation? Just what, exactly, as a culture, are we willingly doing to ourselves?

(Post stems from this discussion)


Anonymous said...

I think it's just one more way that we try to artificially elevate ourselves above our natural/animalistic form. On top of that, it is indeed about artificially differentiating the sexes (body hair = masculine, ergo women need to shave shave shave). It's all silly, frankly, and it's amazing how many otherwise-enlightened people insist that body hair on women is a scourge that must be eradicated.

Dave N.

Michael said...

Humans have a long sordid history with body hair removal, all for various reasons. Eqyptians did it for insect/health issues. Women and men in India and the Middle East have used a technique called threading (khite) for centuries. I find the whole thing kind of interesting, to be honest, as hair removal is certainly not a modern phenomenon. With that sort of history, I have a hard time believing that hair removal is related to racial oppression.

Mostly, I think it's a personal preference, I've met women and men that prefer getting rid of all their body hair. I've also met the reverse. Whatevs. This is an argument I just can't get too worked up over anymore. Whatever our cultural standards are, they are constantly bucked by a majority of people, men and women, that choose not to go as hairless as possible.

Although, insofar as your link is concerned, I think the folks saying Lourdes needs to do X, Y, or Z, should go fuck themselves. Seeing as she's famous simply for being someone's daughter, those bastards need to control their critical impulses just a little bit.

secondhandsally said...

Hi Michael,
Thanks for coming by and commenting. The history of hair removal is really interesting. I should have prefaced this post by saying that it was in regards to modern American culture and hair removal.
Honestly, I wanted to attack this issue from the side (hence the questions rather than statements) because I was so upset by all those people on Jezebel.

I guess being one of those people who buck the mandatory hair removal thing and having people attempt to shove me back into the gender box that apparently my hair has indicated I am attempting to escape from has made me particularly sensitive to this issue.

I agree that since hair removal has manifested itself again and again in our human history that it's roots (no pun intended) must go deeper than racism (though what a deep well that is), but I have often read/heard from friends, that non-WASPY women struggle more with hair removal issues (as their hair is darker and shows up against their skin more). So with that question, I was just trying to point out that people encounter degrees of disgust with their body hair, lighter hair being more acceptable than dark hair.

Anyway, this is a long a rambling comment to your comment. I am still putting my thoughts together. Again, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.