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Body hair issues

Taking a break from comparing ourselves with each other – plus, of course, ‘sizeism’, eating disorders and the fashion industry’s inability to relate to everywoman – it seems the latest fad is a backlash against the removal of female body hair.

From a feminist point of view, this involves an inevitable degree of hand-wringing and trying to face two or more points of the compass simultaneously.

We learn that girl teenagers obsess about waxing themselves all over, partly as a result of what both sexes see in the ever-incoming tide of online hardcore porn – so as a reaction, some commentators preach a return to the ‘natural’ look.

Having said that, when, a few years ago now, actress Julian Roberts appeared on the red carpet at a movie premier unashamedly sporting a pair of armpit forests, hundreds of journalists from the worlds of celebrity and fashion-watching suffered a major attack of the vapours.

What did that reaction actually signify?

That hair removal was universally good – and the opposite bad? Or that, while pubic hair was a matter of choice, routine removal of armpit and leg hair were mandatory and non-negotiable? Has hair removal become a matter of what men expect or, alternatively, of what women themselves prefer?

At the end of the day, is depilation (in both principle and degree) simply a matter of convention, fashion, personal choice … or what?

And to what extent is our view of males different?

For, if uber-feminists might argue that any form of hair-removal is pandering to a male dominant society’s view of ideal womanhood, then presumably they’d support the proposition that men should also desist from shaving – in other words, we should expect that men sporting full beards should be the norm, which it clearly isn’t.

Why, throughout history, has society convention ‘tampered’ with the human genders’ natural state regarding body hair?

Here’s an interesting piece on the issues by Emer O’Toole, featured today on the website of THE GUARDIAN




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About Jane Shillingford

Jane spent the bulk of her career working on women’s magazines. Now retired and living on the south coast, she has no regrets and 'would do it all again'. More Posts