The Hairlessness Norm: The Removal of Body Hair in Women

The Hairlessness Norm: The Removal of Body Hair in Women This study aimed to investigate the frequency andmeaning of the removal of body hair in women.Participants were 129 female university students (meanage = 22.3 years) and 137 female high school students (mean age = 14.3 years). Almost all (>95%)were Caucasian. It was found that, as predicted, the vastmajority (92%) of women remove their leg and/or underarmhair, most frequently by shaving. This was irrespective of their feminist beliefs, but wasnegatively related to self-esteem in university students.The reasons cited for hair removal were primarilyconcerned with a desire for femininity andattractiveness. However, the reasons provided for starting toremove body hair differed between the groups, in thatthey were relatively more normative for the universitystudents than for the high school students. It was concluded that women's stated reasons forstarting the practice of hair removal reflectprimarilytheir vantage point as an observer. In fact, removingbody hair is a practice so normative as to go mostly unremarked, but one which contributessubstantially to the notion that womens' bodies areunacceptable as they are. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sex Roles Springer Journals

The Hairlessness Norm: The Removal of Body Hair in Women

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Publisher
Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers
Copyright
Copyright © 1998 by Plenum Publishing Corporation
Subject
Psychology; Gender Studies; Sociology, general; Medicine/Public Health, general
ISSN
0360-0025
eISSN
1573-2762
D.O.I.
10.1023/A:1018828722102
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This study aimed to investigate the frequency andmeaning of the removal of body hair in women.Participants were 129 female university students (meanage = 22.3 years) and 137 female high school students (mean age = 14.3 years). Almost all (>95%)were Caucasian. It was found that, as predicted, the vastmajority (92%) of women remove their leg and/or underarmhair, most frequently by shaving. This was irrespective of their feminist beliefs, but wasnegatively related to self-esteem in university students.The reasons cited for hair removal were primarilyconcerned with a desire for femininity andattractiveness. However, the reasons provided for starting toremove body hair differed between the groups, in thatthey were relatively more normative for the universitystudents than for the high school students. It was concluded that women's stated reasons forstarting the practice of hair removal reflectprimarilytheir vantage point as an observer. In fact, removingbody hair is a practice so normative as to go mostly unremarked, but one which contributessubstantially to the notion that womens' bodies areunacceptable as they are.

Journal

Sex RolesSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 6, 2004

References

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