Friday, March 10, 2006

To Shave, to Wax, to Tweeze or not?

Recently, I've stumbled across several stories, posts, and comments that have got me thinking about body hair. The hows and why of removing or not removing, and the different cultural attitudes towards body hair on men and women.

Yesterday, Ms L. referred to a competition in the Yukon where they judge who has the longest, coarsest, thickest leg hair. The ladies around Whitehorse grow their hair all winter in anticipation!

Also, yesterday, we were imagining some fun hair removal experiences for pawlr at the spa in L.A.

I started looking around to find out a bit more about attitudes toward body hair. I used to just think that it was women that feel they should have hairless pits and legs but I came across info leading me to believe there a lot more men out there doing hair removal. Whether its waxing/shaving their backs or doing their bikini lines!

One interesting pseudo-history article talked about the fact that hair removal has been something people have indulged in through all recorded history. Read about it here. At one time, people would shave or pluck all the hair on their head then wear wigs and draw on eyebrows!
Another article I came across was a research project in Australia, trying to determine why over 81% of women surveyed felt they had to remove their excess body hair.

I read quite a few articles and some of the theories included things like:
- women in particular have been convinced by the marketers that body hair is ugly and unfeminine so it should be removed
- more and more men are falling into this mindset
- body hair on women is a sign of sexual maturity and power and it should be removed so they will appear younger, pre-pubescent, less powerful
-men should remove the hair from their butts and groin area if they are planning to wear a thong type bathing suit to the beach

In my own history, I, like most girls, started shaving as teenager. I went through a phase in my twenties where I stopped. This was partly because I often got a rash, especially under my arms, and also because I was rebelling against 'societal norms'. Well, I guess I question my own socialization because I didn't like the way I looked 'au naturelle' and have removed hair ever since. I'm quite a fan of waxing and am even seriously considering permanent hair removal with laser treatment. Does that make me a woman who is overly concerned with being attactive to men, or of low self esteem? I don't think so.

My attitudes to body hair on men are more lenient. It doesn't bother me to see hairy pits or a hairy back. I don't look at a guy and think 'eew, he should wax that!'. Looking around the net though I discovered quite a few guys and gals who don't like excess hair on men. In fact, quite a few salons advertise waxing for men and I found this article on getting Brazilian wax for men. I knew women went in for this but never thought men would. So interesting. And yeah...ouch. Read this article. In between cringing I was laughing. A short excerpt from the first one gives you the idea:

Brazilian Nuts; The Brazilian Wax treatment was introduced to North America in the late 1980s by J. Sisters International, a Manhattan salon that is owned and operated by seven clearly insane sisters from Brazil. The Brazilian is an all-over body hair removal treatment that chiefly involves the buttocks, pubic area, and dark crevasses in a ritual of pain so spectacular there are few words to describe it.
Most charitable estheticians will provide a tongue depressor to sink your teeth into during treatment. Some will turn up the salon's sound system so you can scream 'til you burst a blood vessel.

So, Cyberpolers, what do you think? Are we succumbing to unrealistic ideas of beauty and tidyness by doing all this hair removal? Are women being victimized by the marketers? Are men? Lets hear your thoughts!

24 Thoughts:

Blogger iBegToDither said...

Lately I believe that inasmuch as each human hair houses a homunculous, each hair is also a human life and must be treated with dignity. Perhaps one way to reconcile our depilatory tendencies with respect for the homunculi inside would be to save the pluckings and shavings from their typically ignominious fate in wastebaskets and drains by planting them in horse manure along with bones, sperm, and sundry other articles as prescribed in the famed recipe by the alchemist Paracelsus. His technique supposedly led to the generation of new homunculi. This is an imperfect, but perhaps satisfactory, solution to the ethical dilemma posed by our fetish for deliciously smooth and creamy skin.

Friday, March 10, 2006 8:44:00 AM  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Why, Ibegtodither, you have such a humanitarian approach! I'm ashamed to admit I never thought of the fate of all those poor, unwanted hairs. :-)

let us know how you get on with your project.

Friday, March 10, 2006 9:56:00 AM  
Blogger pawlr said...

Wow. De Sade had nothing on those Brazilians.

This morning in the bathroom, I took the plunge and fired up my brother's electric clippers. Too much of a wuss to wax, that's me, so I thought I'd just try the ol' shave technique.

After a couple false starts, I managed to remove a fair amount from my left shoulder, but then had to stop because I didn't have a good means for hair disposal. I didn't want my brother or his wife to be treated to a new organic shag carpet when they woke up that morning. Where was the broom I would need to pick up all my excess manhood fibers? How about a dustpan? It was too complicated.

So I aborted, but will give it another go when I get back to my NYC base. At least my t-shirt feels nice against my left shoulder now. And Ibeg - I got your mailing addy so I can send you a nice package.

Although this may brand me as hopelessly bourgeois, my preference is for less hair on females. There's just something about smooth delicate hairless skin that attracts me. And the reason for my sexual preference may not be cultural - this article suggests that hairlessness in our species evolved as a 1) defense against parasites, 2) a method to retain water, or even 3) a means to aid aquatic movement!

Friday, March 10, 2006 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

Thanks for the link.

I bet that's an interesting look you're sporting with one bare shoulder. :-)

I struggle with value judgements we place on this issue. I too prefer the feel of smooth, hairless skin. Especially on myself. Does that mean I'm denying my right to be hairy? Have I been brainwashed? I don't know. *confused*

If you're serious about the hair removal, give waxing a try. The first time I got my legs and bikini done I found it really painful but now it doesn't bother me. I think your hair follicles get weaker over time.

Friday, March 10, 2006 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous kyahgirl said...

some of my shy readers over at the hen house have made a few comments so I'm going to try to link here.

Friday, March 10, 2006 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...

I think it depends on where you travel. I can say with some degree of certainty that Japanese women like a man with a thick rug of Greek hair on his chest. On the other hand, the men of San Fran are much less enthusiastic. I'll be keeping what God gave me and strut my feathers with pride.

Friday, March 10, 2006 1:17:00 PM  
Blogger Tickersoid said...

I went through a period of shaving my chest. It was for the same reason that bald men remove the rest of their hair. The few hairs looked a little lonesome, so off they went.

On the up side, I'm 52 and still have a full head of hair.

Friday, March 10, 2006 1:35:00 PM  
Blogger Tickersoid said...

The amount of interest shown on this subject, just goes to show how little we have to worry about:)

Friday, March 10, 2006 1:36:00 PM  
Blogger pigletson said...

I used to grow my armpit hair out because I would get a kick out of people's reactions. The best was when I would wear a tank top and hold onto the overhead railing on the subway. My boyfriend at the time liked it, but he also liked having sex with me while I was on my period. Go figure.

When we broke up and he moved back to Austin the armpit hair left, too. It gave me a sense of closure about the relationship. This past August my curiosity got the best of me and I tried waxing for the first time. On a whim I followed my friend to the beauty salon had all the hair on my genitals removed. My friend was vague about the amount of pain I was about to endure, which is probably why I decided to go through with it. I felt like I had just been violated in ten different ways. For about an hour afterward I walked around the city in a state of shock. I went into Petco and played with the stray kittens to calm myself down.

The second time hurt about half as much and the third time half of the second. But I stopped going because times became tough and I didn't want to shell out the monthly $35. But I just got a raise, so we'll see what happens.

Friday, March 10, 2006 2:39:00 PM  
Anonymous kyahgirl said...

Demo-I wish there was some way to get more opinions from asia and europe-I'd like to see how different they are. Is it true that japanese men and women don't have much body hair?

tickersoid-thanks for coming all the away over here :-) I'm in agreement with you. The subject is of interest to lots of people. I never really though men worried so much about chest and back (and bum) hair until I started looking into it. Must be 'out of the loop'.

pigletson-I remember that reaction when I went through my ' long armpit hair ' phase. People are horrified :-)
Good to know the full wax job gets less painful over time. Lots of women swear by it.

Friday, March 10, 2006 3:09:00 PM  
Anonymous GM said...

I hate hair removal. I hate myself in a bathing suit too, so I just practice strategic avoidance of both things. Armpits? Yeah I shave those. Legs? Yeah I do that too. The rest? ONLY WHEN I ABSOLUTELY MUST.

Now that I know about the homunculous though, I might start participating in the hair-removal ritual on a more regular basis. If I can only find a horse and a sperm donor.

I really like the idea of a smooth left shoulder. Perhaps I'll aproach my hubby with that idea!

Friday, March 10, 2006 5:29:00 PM  
Anonymous kyahgirl said...

Hi GM- yes, let us know how you make out with your request to hubby! :-)

Friday, March 10, 2006 9:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Piggy and Tazzy said...

I'm sort of hairy. I have more than Tazzy, which is odd as he's infinitely more masculine in appearance than I am.

Have to say that I quite like body hair (on men). Hairy women on the other hand... Urrrgh! Especially those that can grow a tache quicker than me!

Saturday, March 11, 2006 2:31:00 PM  
Blogger Demotiki said...


Yeah, people in Japan have very little body hair. When I lived over there, and again in Vietnam, little kids would "pet" the hair on my arms. The found the "hairy ape" very amusing.


Saturday, March 11, 2006 7:36:00 PM  
Blogger actonbell said...

OUCH! I think everyone is falling victim to worrying too much about appearance, in general. I personally draw the line at experiencing pain. I do shave my legs and pits, and that's good enough for me.

Isn't it enough tht we spend so much TIME staying perfectly clean, having white teeth, watching the weight, and obtaining the appropriate clothes?

Interesting post, as always:)

Sunday, March 12, 2006 12:26:00 PM  
Anonymous kyahgirl said...

P&T - thanks for coming by :-) Interesting comment.

demo-thanks for the visual :-)

actonbell- yeah, we do spend a lot of time on grooming. Hard to say where to draw the line sometimes. thanks for coming by.

Sunday, March 12, 2006 3:55:00 PM  
Blogger Palmer said...

Just shaved my head last week. First time in a while. If you've never done so, it's a trip. Fun to rub, hats feel great, and it's clean and efficient. Odd that we prefer hair on the heads of women and bodies of men. Always thought Sinead O' Connor, the chick from the first Star Trek movie, bald fashion models attractive.

I've always had a thing for unshaved armpits on a woman. Don't like 'em overly hairy, but a little au naturelle always seemed right. Something going on with pheromones, musks, or something in that semi-erogenous zone.

Seems like the porn industry has fetishized hairlessness (although the some aspects of the fetish industry have pornified hair). Have heard from friends that shaving "down there" can add a half-inch or so. Never thought much of adding that half-inch. I figure we all round up anyway.

I have dabbled with shaving my privates, but not fond of the early regrowth phase.

Do women like shaved genitals on a man, or does it seem like a cry for help? On women, shaving does leave less to the imagination, and us men are conditioned to hunt for glimpses of "pink" from an early age. In those awakening days of early adolescence, you always wanted Penthouse not Playboy. The fact that women attend to their pubic hair indicates sexual appetite, attention to detail, artistry. Overly hairy women are scary, although, of course some dudes are into that.

Ah well. Have enjoyed the shift on the blog. Kudos to all for the change of focus.

Did someone say merkin?

Sunday, March 12, 2006 5:15:00 PM  
Anonymous kyahgirl said...

Hi Palmer. :-)
I like the look of a shaved head on a man, especially when there isn't much hair anyway.
On women, its not so bad if a a woman is a stunner like Sinead is (was)?

As for doing the privates, I would think hairless male privatse might be kind of interesting. I think waxing would be a better approach than shaving. Shaving results in that unbearable itchiness but waxing doesn't seem as bad.

It funny you mention the 'hairy movement' and the porn industry. I found bunch of funny links when I looking around for this post. There is a magazine devoted to racy pictures of hairy women. Who knew?

And Merkins-well, there was a time in history when people took all their hair off (presumably because hygiene was so bad that bugs could be a problem) and wore fancy merkins. It was all the rage.

People are so funny. I should have been a sociologist.

Monday, March 13, 2006 1:27:00 PM  
Blogger Palmer said...

Thanks, Kyah.

Waxing, huh? I'll think about it. Tres chic...

BTW: I remember playing scrabble with pawlr, and he busted out the M-E-R-K-I-N.

I wonder if right shoulder merkins are available.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Demotiki said...


Yeah, I was thinking of shaving my "inverted Mohawk" recently. Now that the weather is getting warmer it seems like a good idea. I wonder though, do you think it would grow back more slowly or not at all if I change my mind about being a skin-head?


Tuesday, March 14, 2006 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger BigSend said...

I shave my underarms because it helps the antipersperant work. I can't stand underarm sweat

I trim the pubes.

I haven't done anything to the glute region..

However, I am an idealist and I hope to get a girl who is so into me that she will accept my body for what it is, I know I have 10000x more to offer than my looks.

Thursday, March 16, 2006 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Libbits said...

Well yes I do like the un-hairy (is there such a word?) look and feel - but then again it is all a matter of choice.

I have to admit that with waxing, been there, done that, but won't do it again.

hair removal for women

Saturday, May 20, 2006 7:34:00 PM  
Anonymous no brazilian wax for me said...

I like to stay neat and trimmed, but I'm not going to get a Brazilian wax. Low pain tolerance and scissors and a personal shaver does it for me.

best hair remover

Sunday, May 21, 2006 10:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Body Shave said...

Some good questions and some interesting points made.As a Beauty Therapist I set up a website to assist people with "How to" information on shaving and body hair removal at it saved me explaining what to do and how it was done.Julie

Saturday, May 27, 2006 4:39:00 AM  

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