Thursday, 27 March 2008

Hair piece

One advantage of being a guy is that I don't have to bother about my body hair - except in the facial area. It must drive women nuts having to remove it all.

Men can go around with forests of the stuff sprouting from every conceivable surface and that's just fine. In fact for some women, the hairier the better - for them hair quantity denotes masculinity rating.

It may be fashionable now for certain types of men to remove their body hair - gays, sportsmen, models - but for many women absence of male body hair is still deeply suspicious and a bit of a turn-off.

Women however are expected to be totally devoid of body hair, even though many women are naturally quite hairy - a fact that remains a big conversational taboo. I've known women desperate to get rid of vast thickets of hair they laboriously concealed from their menfolk.

But men demand total hairlessness and smooth, silky skin, regardless of the reality. The sight of hairy armpits or hairy nipples is enough for some of them to come over queasy and walk out the door. A woman has to conform to the pin-up stereotype, however artificial it may be.

Many men are blissfully unaware that those satin-skinned supermodels have to wax, shave and pluck meticulously to get like that. Unlike Barbie dolls, they don't just emerge from the box that way.

For a short, brave period, radical feminists refused to depilate and flaunted their natural hair growth. But male distaste and female loss of nerve ended the experiment.

Now that genetic modification is getting into its stride, I suppose one day women will be able to rejig their genes to eliminate body hair growth altogether. That'll save a lot of time (and pain). Just as long as they don't go bald....

PS: Wikipedia suggests several reasons for hair removal, apart from aesthetics and gender stereotypes, going back to Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome: to prevent infestation by lice, fleas and other parasites; to prevent body odour from odour-causing micro-organisms; and among Ancient Egyptian priests, to present a pure body to the gods. In Ancient Greece and Rome, both men and women removed body hair.

PPS: The infinitely wise and excellent K8 the GR8 has also done a post on hairiness and hair removal. Very funny and very informative. Go take a peep at her hair-removal trials and tribulations.

See also Hirsutism
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Having spent a few days pondering all this, I've concluded that the fairest way forward is for men to remove all their body hair as well as women - and share the pain and the effort and the pleasure. Respect for women means equal use of epilators, strip wax and tweezers. Are you ready, guys?

30 comments:

Grannymar said...

I am not one for the extreme hairlessness. Hair nicely groomed ans trimmed on the face and head can add definition and character to a person.

Nick said...

Ah, then I'm the one for you, Grannymar - unbearded, short hair, neatly shaved. Can I be your toyboy for today?

conortje said...

'Men can go around with forests of the stuff sprouting from every conceivable surface and that's just fine.' hehe I respectfully disagree - I think those days are long gone - at least in my generation :-)

laurie said...

i'm curious what prompted this post....

and i'm with conor; i've seen little electric shavers for noses and ears at Walgreens, and i'm pretty sure they aren't for women.

Nick said...

Con - Hmm, exactly which parts of the body are we discussing here? But you're right, young men are a lot tidier and neater than some of the oldies.

Laurie - Well I did stress the importance of the facial area. I was thinking more of the rest of the body. What prompted the post? I suppose just the injustice of how perfect women are meant to be and the fact that a lot more men are going in for hair-removal. Nothing personal, I assure you!

gayƩ said...

I find underarm hair quite disgusting in both men and women. Especially when guys that are full of themselves, wearing the loose singlets with long hair "sprouting out" as you said. Eeew.
I don't know when women decided that hairlessness was better, must have been quite long time ago.
Interesting topic. :)

Wisewebwoman said...

Interesting post Nick.
But haven't you seen the sculptured hair on men's faces? the iddy biddy lines, that must take hours.
The whole genital grooming thing really throws me, I'm glad I missed brazilians, something seriously icky about that whole thing. One could do some major damage (both to the male and female naughty bits).
I like hirsute, always have, though once had a relationship with a guy who was a speed racer and who shaved his whole body smooth very day apart from his head. Lovely body btw.
AND, toyboy, Nick, isn't GM younger than you? maybe a girltoy for you????:>)
XO
WWW

Nick said...

Gaye - Oh dear, I have to admit to ahem, armpit hair. Will have to get busy with the shaver right away! Yes, I wonder when hairlessness started? Must do some research.

www - Sculptured facial hair? No, I hadn't noticed that. I was reading that brazilians cause small skin cuts which can get infected by germs spread from the pubic hair. A rare occurrence though! You like hirsute? A shame, I'm not very hairy!

Grannymar a girltoy? A great idea!!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Several months ago, while waiting for my plane to depart San Francisco, a young woman sat down next to me, pulled out a mirror and commenced to tweeze her eyebrows.

I don't think she even noticed me staring at her in disbelief.

Baino said...

Women with hairy nipples? My goodness, that's a new one on me! I'm with Conorte, unless you're mediterranean . . not many hairy men down under!

I like a clean shaven man I must admit, always had the feeling a moustache was to 'hide' a weak top lip (proven when my boss chose to shave his!) And nothing worse than a receding hairline and a grey ponytail. Let it go boys!

My sister in law is a beautician and at least 50% of her clients are 'body builders' they wax EVERYTHING for competition . . .sad thing is, as men age, head hair declines and sprouts from their ears and nose!

Nick said...

Heart - It's amazing what people will do in public without a qualm. I'm surprised I haven't seen any women shaving their legs while I'm in the departure lounge....

Baino - Goodness, and I thought you women could keep ME informed. Yes, I think most women like a clean shaven man, but the question is would you want the rest of him de-haired female-style? Glad to say I still have a full head of hair - quite miraculous.

Quickroute said...

I remember yearning for the day I would finally really need to shave (more so I could have stubble and look older and hence get into clubs etc) - God! now its such a hassle and I have to trim eyebrows, nose hair, ears etc - oh to be hairless again!

Los Angelista said...

If I could make my husband wax or shave from the crotch on up, I would. But, he doesn't want to, so he humors me with some serious trimming. (He'd be so mortified if he knew I was sharing this, so shh!) I think I dislike the hair because I have a very sensitive nose and body hair tends to hold bacteria and make folks stinkier.

John Self said...

There's a case to be made I think for saying that the whole hairlessness-on-women thing is a worrying symptom of our infantilisation of sexuality as a society. Perhaps. Certainly I would be somewhat thrown and probably repulsed by hairy armpits or legs on a woman, but it's difficult to accept that that's purely a cultural thing based on what we're used to and led to expect, just as it's hard to say whether attraction to slim as opposed to fat women is innate or again something imposed by societal norms.

Thriftcriminal said...

I certainly don't insist on hairlessness when it comes to women, I think this is as much imposed by women's own views than anything else. Me, I'm pretty hairy, not to the hairy back stage, but no shortage of fur, I find most women disapprove of hairy blokes (but I aint waxin'). The whole supermodel thing is bizarre, I find a broad spectrum of women attractive, from Scarlett Johanssen to Queen Latifa, but I'm married, so they can't have me.

Nick said...

Quickie - Count yourself lucky! Trimming your facial bits is nothing compared to what women have to go through!

Liz - I hadn't thought of the bacteria/smell factor. Does that mean hubby won't do what he expects you to do? Perhaps if you knew some other neatly-waxed men who could gently persuade him....

John - I'd forgotten about the infantilisation factor too. Yes indeed, grown women having to look like little girls or dolls. And yes, the whole nature/nurture question over what we find attractive is hard to resolve. I suspect it's highly cultural because our idea of beauty has changed a lot over the centuries.

Thrifty - I think it's a mixture of women's and men's views. Certainly there are women who shudder if they have even a trace of body hair and regard it as contaminating. Your experience is that most women disapprove of body hair? In that case, we men had better start skin-stripping!

And yes, ain't Scarlett Johanssen gorgeous!!

Nick said...

The comments so far suggest the trend is for more hairlessness not less. I think we men will have to bite the bullet and learn to love strip wax!

Nicole said...

I started shaving my armpits because my mom said it was sanitary and my legs because tv commercials implied it's what women do. They're both annoying to maintain, but I admit to keeping them up because I like the feel of smooth legs, etc. I dated a guy once who preferred hairy legs and it really freaked me out. After all the time I spent pickin out the perfectly scented shave gel and then shaving my legs, how dare he not appreciate them!

Nick said...

Yes, it must have been weird, Nicole, to suddenly have a man ask for hairy legs! As I've just added to the post, I gather hair removal is commonly associated with better hygiene and protection against harmful bugs in the hair.

Mudflapgypsy said...

I think I'll have to just rail against all this anti hair sentiment then.
I must have got a triple helping. Learnt to live with societal disapproval and stick two fingers up at it, metaphorically speaking. Beard or facial hair most of the time as well as even electric shavers cut me. Don't seem to get cut so much in hot climates though, maybe I need to move somewhere hot?

Not so fussed on the sprouting out of the ear and nose thing.

Hairy women never bothered me, I mean who would I be to judge?

Nick said...

Muddy - A triple helping? Goodness, that sounds a bit alarming. The image of Rip Van Winkle with his huge beard comes to mind! I definitely can't interest you in a waxing session then? "Hairy women, who would I be to judge?" That's very even-handed of you.

Wisewebwoman said...

Anthropologically speaking, Nick, do you know what all the purpose of this body hair is?
Particularly the 'pits and the naughty bits.
I do realize the eyebrows were to stop the sweat into the eyes, etc.
Back hair (not a fan, should have mentioned that!)purpose?
Warmth in a chilly clime?
anyways, for what it's worth....
XO
WWW

Nick said...

Absolutely no idea, www, I can't see any purpose at all. If it's meant to keep us warm, why isn't there more of it? And if it's there to trap harmful germs, what's the point if they can still transfer to the skin?

Nick said...

I just asked Jenny what she thought of me removing all my body hair. She thought the idea was ridiculous. Phew, that lets me off the hook then. Though I did shave my legs once to see what it looked like. Answer: very strange!

K8 the Gr8 said...

I've gotta say though... men waxing their bits for charity drives are always a HUGE success.

If blokes suddenly started hair-removal, charities wouldn't benefit so much from the oddity of it, so that's another point in your/men's favour :)

Nick said...

K8 - Mmmm, that's an idea. I could debut a hairless me for a good cause. How about Alopecia UK?

Medbh said...

I saw a post about a woman in the UK who tabulated the extreme cost of her faithful hair removal and was so shocked she stopped doing it.
And then she was shunned.

Nick said...

I bet the cost is frightening, Medbh. Since it's basically for men's benefit, men ought to make some contribution. Not sure how they'd do that though! And surprise surprise, the hairy lady was shunned. Brave but unrealistic in a world where super-smooth female images rule!

Hullaballoo said...

Oh Nick, thank you. This post made me smile. Hair removal for then is such a funny idea.

I am glad to be with someone European enough not to be fussed by female body hair. Not that I am hairy by any means, it's just that I refuse to inflict pain upon myself to remove it.

I have never, ever mastered the less than gentle art of hair waxing, despite my efforts. I just don't see it as that important. Happily our chilly climate doesn't demand regular exposure of great rafts of skin.

Shaving your legs is impressive, Nick. How about shaving your chest hair and see how it feels?

WWW is right back hair on men is a no no, as is thickets of ear hair or nasal hair. Hence the male nasal trimmers.

I once had an ex who sprouted so much nasal hair, I thought he must be putting Baby Bio up his nose lol.

Nick said...

Well, that's very commendable, Hulla, not wanting to inflict pain on yourself. Regularly doing something so painful, even in the name of beauty, is a bit weird really. Though you're lucky not to have too much hair.

Actually I did shave my chest once, when I inadvertently bought a V-neck t-shirt which showed some hair. I rather liked the clean look! And absolutely, sprigs of ear hair and nasal hair are revolting.