If there’s a standard for the number of hairs, there is not much difference between humans and gorillas – they are found on almost everyone’s entire body. Growing at a rate of about 0.3mm per day, there are 5 million hairs protecting the body part to which they are attached until they pass through the resting phase and enter the shedding phase.
But as we all know, hair was never a purely biological phenomenon, to begin with – especially after consumerism permeated our lives and the spread of social networking brought us into the age of images. So every time the temperature rises, the desire for comprehensive design and care of the hair arrives, as usual.
One paradox we face is that society’s current ‘acceptance of ourselves as the way we are’ is saying that it is good to keep our bodies as they are. Another popular concept encourages “body freedom” and advocates “taking control of our own body,” and such wording is increasingly found only in body-related commercials that encourage people to transform to “better and thinner” bodies.
In the broader public opinion, only a young, healthy, slender, polished, and hygienic body can be called liberating. Among all the body aversions, the picking on hair is particularly acute, often associated with uncleanliness, laziness, aging, lack of refinement, and sexuality, making this natural feature a lurking crisis of stigmatization, from class, morality, and even human qualifications, such as being “ape-like,” and “not evolved.”
Hair removal is often considered a rejection of human-animal nature, but in contemporary times, extensive hair removal has become an almost exclusively female habit. While men’s beards are an option based on personal hygiene and style considerations, female body hair can breed ill feelings and shame from others.
Not only does female body hair rarely appear in European tradition painting, but in contemporary times, female characters in video games, movies, and books do not have armpit hair, rings, jewelry, and watch ads do not have finger hair, and even silicone bodies already have a variety of breast shapes and sizes to choose from, and private hair is customizable, but they do not have armpit hair.
For many people, including women themselves, body hair feels like original sin, and those who have tried to remove a crop of hair since puberty are still in the majority. In the United States, 90 percent of women consider hair removal a modern practice – even though razors and hair removal techniques are indeed fairly recent inventions.
But, again, it is clearly not enough to simply see the idea of hair as a consequence of a series of industrial invasions of media, pornography, fashion, and commercials. The sociology of the body argues that the body is subjected to a variety of abstract symbols and systems, and so has to face a variety of discursive struggles, a politics closest to the individual that the sociologist Giddens calls ‘the politics of life,’ in which special attention is paid to human initiative.
Historically, examples of using hair as a tool of expression are not uncommon, from Frieda’s self-portraits to the anti-mainstream hairstyles of punks, hippies, and killjoys, and in recent years, various armpit hair pageants that make “armpit hair equals to the feminist statement”, people have tried to step out of the norm to overcome the role of regulation – but of course, these actions still provoke some discomfort and bad reviews.
In the current gender structure, it is basically asserted that women will always pay more for their body image in any situation. The simplest and most brutal (but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold water) reason for this is, of course, the materialization and objectification of women, as if women are naturally obligated to remain as refined and beautiful as dolls.
For women, examples of beauty are readily available, Barbie’s hair is soft and smooth, it’s hard to imagine Barbie with messy hair, and it’s certainly hard to imagine Barbie covered in body hair. But for men, there is no real standard of beauty or even beauty requirements.
For men, there is a kind of regressive self-evidence, for example, many people like to say that “Doctors are bald” “doing academic makes you bald”, for a man, if really unfortunate to become bald, he still has the opportunity to say that he doesn’t have a lot of hair because he’s doing research, by the way, to sell a little wisdom.
Why do women have to remove their body hair, because women are not allowed to be like men? The length of body hair as part of the gender characteristics, respectively, attached to the male (subject) and female (object), the subject converted to the object (men without hair) is often more acceptable, and conversely, women hairy is considered unacceptable.
So, hair is not just a personal issue, it’s also complex. It revolves around perceptions of hair of all kinds, the social issues it raises, and the rights associated with it. Image management seems to be all over the place these days, with beauty bloggers in a consumerist climate hating to set standard rules for every body part.
Women’s armpit hair has always been taboo and even a symbol of feminist resistance as a result, and many people, including women themselves, feel uncomfortable about it. What do you think about women’s armpit hair? Does it create discomfort? How do you feel about men’s armpit hair? And, why is there a bias?