Let’s not beat around the bush. Our recent survey about men’s views on female body hair ruffled more than a few feathers.
Our volunteers’ willingness to dare to bare their frank and honest opinions on the topic provided an interesting, albeit controversial insight into how the male mind works. However, despite what most of them deemed ‘attractive,’ (‘laminate flooring’ and ‘no hair below the eyebrows’ seemed popular themes...), the bush is definitely back and men’s preferences aren’t stopping women choosing to let their gardens grow as fully and bountifully as they like. And rightly so.
How did the world get so female fuzz phobic?
From Julia Roberts’ now infamous hair-raising moment at 1999’s Notting Hill premiere to Miley Cyrus’s and Madonna’s recent headline-grabbing armpit hair, Gwyneth Paltrow saying that she rocks ‘a 70s vibe’ down there to Cameron Diaz’s command to ‘Keep it fully dressed ladies!’ in her tome The Body Book, it seems a body hair backlash has been on the cards for a while now. Reported as bold, risqué and edgy, it has to be asked why these instances were deemed front page worthy and more importantly, why these women’s private parts were put up for public judgement so readily in the first place?
“It is part of our social constructs that women have to be hairless. This is just one of the beauty standards that are enforced from a very young age,” says psychologist and Get The Gloss Expert Elaine Slater . “Female body hair became an issue in the early 20th century because of changes in fashion. In 1915, Harper’s Bazaar ran an ad of a young model in a sleeveless slip dress – revealing underarms for the first time. At the same time, Gillette launched its first razors for women and female body hair was suddenly deemed unsightly. It was pushed by advertising that women could be fashionable only if they had hair-free armpits. Of course, that tapped into women’s insecurities and a whole new beauty standard and industry was born.”
Who else may be to blame?
If we were to take a closer look at our hair removal routine, there's a good chance that other than doing it for ourselves and for our partners, perhaps it's also due to the pressures imposed by other women. “I feel it's commonly all of those things, as attitudes have now changed,” says Nichola Joss , Sanctuary Spa Skincare Expert. “Women are now very derogatory about other women’s hair - often women seen in the public eye, so it's more than just a male’s opinion.”
A quick Google search of some of the more scathing tabloid articles ‘outing’ celebrities for their public plumage reveals a shockingly large number that have been written by women. With captions ranging from, ‘That was embarrassing’ to the short but not-so-sweet, ‘Gross!’, it’s no wonder women make shaving, waxing and epilating as commonplace as stretching before hitting the female changing room at the gym. Then of course, there's the conveyor belt of plucked and plastic stars of planet porn. A multi-billion dollar industry that can always be relied on to present some of 'entertainment's' boldest and baldest bush talk, it's easy to see why the perception of what is actually natural is getting progressively more warped.
Are we on the cusp of a body hair comeback?
The trend for 70s volume is one of the summer’s biggest hair dos. However, is the step back in time as applicable to the basement as it is to the attic outside the world of celebrity and could a body hair comeback be imminent? “I think it definitely is. Things have changed, women are now more comfortable with having an amount of body hair which they feel is acceptable to themselves,” says Nichola. “There are lots of reasons for this – in terms of health, people are more aware that a certain amount of body hair helps with fighting infections and bacteria - if there is no hair on the body, then we are more susceptible to them. The backlash and negatives of having no hair in the bikini area can also be seen as very pre-pubescent.”
Its roots also stem from reasons that go beyond the physiological. “Like so many fashion trends; false nails, fake tan and hair extensions – body hair appears to be making a comeback, but there is of course a more complex aspect to this in that it is as much about embracing personal freedom as it is about aesthetic experimentation,” says Elaine Slater. “It can be viewed as a woman’s right to make conscious choices about her body and what is considered naturally beautiful.”
The body hair bottom line
There’s a strong argument to suggest that living by our own standards rather than society’s could have a noticeable impact on our body confidence and self-esteem both in the short and long-term, an incentive which in itself could be worth revising our hair removal routines for. “Our appearance is one of the many ways in which we express who we are,” says Elaine. “Aesthetics, grooming and fashion form a creative and significant expression of self. Living true to our self and our expression of self builds confidence, thus creating feelings of empowerment and uniqueness.”
She adds, “Whether you subscribe to hair removal or not, women should be allowed to make decisions about their bodies without judgement from others. And, women making these decisions should not be something exploited by the media or be deemed shocking. It is time to normalise the concept of female body hair.”
As Miley Cyrus told Out.com recently, “Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.” Having more body hair certainly doesn’t make us any less feminine, much in the same way a full beard doesn't make a man any more masculine and with traditional gender roles being challenged more than ever nowadays (both for men and for women alike), it seems there’s no better time than now to exercise our right to give our razor a well-deserved break if we so wish without the worry of embarrassment or a mocking headline on the horizon.
Would you be embarrassed to dare to bare more hair? Let us know your thoughts on hair removal below.