Body Hair

by cacophonies

This post is intended to start a discussion.

Women: do you feel an obligation to remove body hair on your legs, under your arms, on your face, etc? Do you remove said hair? Why, or why not?

Men: Are you concerned at all about your body hair? Do you feel an obligation to have body hair, or even remove some if it is in the “wrong” place? Do you think you have too much, too little, or is this something you’ve never really thought of? When you were a teenager and started growing facial hair, were you embarrassed by it, did you feel inadequate if you didn’t grow a lot of facial hair right away, or were you not very affected by it?
How do you feel about the possibility of losing your hair?

Men and women:

Does it matter to you if another women doesn’t shave her legs, or if a man always looks clean-shaven because he just can’t grow thick enough facial hair to have an aesthetically-pleasing pattern of hair? Or if a women has hairy armpits, or a man has a long, unkempt beard? What do you find socially acceptable, if anything? What’s ok, what’s not, and why, or why not?

If you are a trans man or woman, do you think you would feel any differently about your body hair if you were not transgender?

How are you affected by gendered expectations in terms of your own body hair, and how does it affect your perception of others?

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25 responses to “Body Hair

  1. missincognegro

    Personally, I am not partial to body hair on males or females. Hairy chests, arms and legs on a man? Not a keeper. Hairy legs and underarms on a woman? Not feeling it. Clean-shaven is just that to me: clean and fresh.

  2. I stopped shaving my legs for a year, my ultimate goal being that I would hopefully rid myself of any shame in having hairy legs, and not feel an arbitrary need to shave on a regular basis. I felt fine, except that I was a little uncomfortable with the idea of wearing a skirt. The experiment didn’t go particularly well in that case. I wanted to be 100% comfortable with hairy legs, and the success rate was about 50%.

    I did something similar with makeup. That one has stuck with me better. I only wear makeup once every so often, and it no longer feels like something I have to do before leaving the house. I hope I can make this body hair thing work once and for all.

    As far as my expectations of males, I don’t really have any. I suppose I may have in the past, but I don’t recall anything significant. I’m equally as attracted to my significant other with and without facial hair (although that just may be a special talent of his– I tend to think that most guys I know have one way that they usually look better).

    I don’t really think of more or less body hair as more or less feminine anymore, so that’s something that I think is an accomplishment. I just keep remembering that the hair we grow on our bodies is going to continue that way, in the same patterns. It’s just the amount that our bodies decided we would need to have on it. There’s no reason why men have to get rid of hair in certain places, or why women should. Or why someone should need more on a certain place, as opposed to what their body naturally created.

  3. I also dislike body hair on both sexes/genders. The double standard annoys me and also efectively skews my sexual preference more towards women than it would be in a culture where men removed body hair.

    I rarely shave my legs—it’s a moderate pain in the ass and I dislike the stubble that shows up afterwards, but then again I also almost always wear pants, and it seems pointless. I generally shave them only when I’m planning to wear a skirt or shorts that day.

    Underarms and pubic region, however, I shave because of that aesthetic dislike for body hair—I hate it, I hate how it looks and how it feels and how I feel with it. I feel ugly, grubby and unsexy with it anything more than stubble. I shave my underarms once every two or three days, when the stubble gets to the noticeable point; maybe a couple days longer if I’m wearing a shirt with sleeves, but I don’t like that feeling when I’m aware of it. Pubic hair gets ignored for longer because that’s a little more work to get rid of, and mostly I just shave the part I can see without a mirror. Razors, incidentally, are too wide to be comfortable around the labia, and I’m always a little worried about slicing something sensitive.

    Sometimes, however, I will enjoy the defiance of having one-day-too-long underarm stubble paired with a tank top.

    I tend to find underarm hair on men especially disgusting.

  4. I don’t shave my leg hair (I don’t expose my legs), but shave the hair on my arms, chest, and face, everyday. (And armpits, but only when the hair starts to interfere with deodorant.)

    I used to allow my (heavy) arm hair to grow, but in retrospect I think it contributed to the whispered ‘tranny’ comments I’d get every now and then; it certainly didn’t look right if I wore ‘feminine’ clothing.

    I can’t imagine what would happen if I didn’t shave my face, even though it is time consuming and damaging to the skin. It’s rather embarrassing to have to shave and use makeup just to perform my cisgender role, and I wish there was a permanent, affordable way to get rid of it (laser isn’t effective on such hair). But, for all my body-acceptance efforts, I’m afraid I just can’t handle having a beard.

    I do like hairy men. 🙂

  5. I wanted to be 100% comfortable with hairy legs, and the success rate was about 50%.

    You’re comfortable with one hairy leg? 🙂

    I did something similar with makeup. That one has stuck with me better. I only wear makeup once every so often, and it no longer feels like something I have to do before leaving the house.

    My partner rarely wears makeup, except occasionally for a night out. I prefer her without, probably because I’m used to that. She shaves her pits and legs, and I’d probably prefer that over unshaven. On the other hand, I strongly prefer unshaven pubes. She was shaven when we first started having sex – the preference of her previous partner, but grew it on my request.

    Apart from that, and in fact, including that, I’m happy with her whatever she wants to do.

    I’m rather hairless myself, which I’m glad about on the whole. My arms and legs are hairy enough to look male, but that’s about it as far as body hair is concerned. I did wonder, when my adolescent chin and upper lip became fluffy, when a real beard would appear, but eventually I realised that this was all I was going to get. I shave my face because it feels neater, and perhaps because I’m used to it. Nothing else, though. My partner keeps threatening to attack my pubes with a razer. I’d let her if she really wanted it, but it’s not gone that far.

    Is there any particular reason you didn’t mention baldheadedness?

    • Is there any particular reason you didn’t mention baldheadedness?

      Ooh, it didn’t even occur to me. I’ll edit that into the post.

      • My Father has male pattern baldness, as did his. My maternal grandfather, however kept a full head of hair until his death, well into his nineties. My Mother always thought my hair pattern was like his, and at nearly forty-five there’s no sign of recession. So I’ve got a better chance than most of retaining it.

        It’s going gray, though, which introduces another axis besides present/absent, which was the focus of your post. Is it more culturally acceptable for men to have gray hair than women?

        • Is it more culturally acceptable for men to have gray hair than women?

          It seems that way. I see it as similar to the common opinion that men with a few extra pounds aren’t as automatically unattractive as chubbier women.

          Your comment gives off a hint of insecurity about the possibility of losing your hair. Does the possibility bother you for any reason?

          • Your comment gives off a hint of insecurity about the possibility of losing your hair.

            Not really. But it’s easy to be unconcerned about something you don’t expect to happen.

            Does the possibility bother you for any reason?

            Sunburn.

          • It seems that way. I see it as similar to the common opinion that men with a few extra pounds aren’t as automatically unattractive as chubbier women.

            Women seem to be automatically more attractive than men, so chubby women don’t necessarily end up as less attractive than their male counterparts.

          • “Women seem to be automatically more attractive than men”

            Oh?

          • Do you not think that women default to attractive in a way that men don’t?

          • No, I certainly don’t. At least, in my observations of life (since there would be no empirical data in support of either side of this assertion) the staples of attractiveness have been a cultural two-way street for as long as I can imagine right now. A woman’s body is more commonly used in marketing to western cultures for obvious reasons, but the message that only attractive men with a full head of hair, pecks to their chin, or loads of money can actually date these women, is deeply ingrained in us. That is how they sell us bugspray labeled “Body Spray” and tell boys that if women smell your new scent they will immediately hop on your penis.

            That anyone would look at one man, and one woman standing side by side and by majority say that the woman was automatically more attractive, I believe, is at best merely a personal opinion. Or at worst, an attempt to steer a broader discourse towards one topic of interest.

          • cacophonies

            I assume you’re referencing the seemingly universal thought of “women are beautiful, men look weird naked” belief.

            I see that as almost an insincere apology to women, rather than a universal belief among humanity. I hardly see anyone actually meaning it when they say anything like that, even hetero women.

            …That said, the implication can be damaging, I agree.

            Women seem to be automatically more attractive than men, so chubby women don’t necessarily end up as less attractive than their male counterparts.

            An average-weight man will be far more ostracized for dating or being attracted to an overweight woman than an average-sized woman would be for dating an overweight man. I don’t have studies to back that up, but oh, you can feel the sentiment in social settings when that one guy brings the Fat Chick to the party. The female who brings the overweight male is hardly noticed, and unless the guy is morbidly obese, he’s just a Big Guy, not a Fat Guy, and no one cares. Women lose their ability to be beautiful or attractive as soon as they are overweight. Men do not.

          • …and unless the guy is morbidly obese, he’s just a Big Guy, not a Fat Guy, and no one cares. Women lose their ability to be beautiful or attractive as soon as they are overweight. Men do not.

            Oh how I wish it were that easy for Big Guys…

          • cacophonies

            I can’t possibly claim to know what it’s like being a “big guy,” but you can’t deny that a “big girl” has it a lot worse when it comes to how others perceive her.

          • Without getting into the full on pissing match I’ll say this.

            I’m not trying to deny what “big girls” face because I have see it enough to know full well it happens and when it comes to specifically looks its true that women are on the short end of the stick. However there is more to perception than looks and when it comes to the overall package there is plenty of room for debate because I assure you women do not have it worse in all areas of perceptions.

          • cacophonies

            I was just talking to a male friend last night about strippers, and how female strippers have a LOT more leeway when it comes to their bodies up on stage than male strippers do. To be a male stripper, you’ve got to be insanely muscular and toned. Female strippers’ body types, on the other hand, vary in all ways you can imagine.

            I can see where you’re coming from, but I still think that what I said before is true, in a general sense.

          • Sounds like we are getting on the same page and all that is left is arguing over who has it worse and I try not to bother with numbers.

          • cacophonies

            Pretty much.

  6. As a male I cannot say that I feel any certain pressure about my body hair except that, from movies, I have learned that too much hair is supposedly gross. I have some weird hair growth patterns too. I think that in terms of inter-personal body hair preferences you can never predict them. Some people will respond positively to body hair as a de-facto model for the ideal partner and others are content to make a preference known but not insisted upon. If my current partner had a preference as to how much or little facial hair I displayed, for example, I would simply assert that I prefer to dictate that myself based on my mood. On a cases by case basis, I think, is the best way to approach it. However, if the question was meant to delve into deeper social norms and genderized body-hair images then I suppose I would say I am glad to be a medium-harry male, albeit my withering hair line as I approach thirty years of age, which I am mostly ambivalent about save a few “oh, it’s receding farther” moments speckled throughout the years.

    I suppose my response, ultimately, is that as a man, I do not feel like I grew up with my body hair under scrutiny unless it was during puberty.

  7. I wrote about this recently on my own blog… I hope its okay that I link it instead of pasting here… it got long.

    http://sunfollower.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/to-shave-or-not-to-shave-that-is-the-question/

  8. Are you concerned at all about your body hair?
    To an extent. On one hand I don’t want it to grow out of control but at the same time Do you feel an obligation to have body hair, or even remove some if it is in the “wrong” place? Do you think you have too much, too little, or is this something you’ve never really thought of? When you were a teenager and started growing facial hair, were you embarrassed by it, did you feel inadequate if you didn’t grow a lot of facial hair right away, or were you not very affected by it?
    How do you feel about the possibility of losing your hair?

  9. Are you concerned at all about your body hair?
    To an extent. On one hand I don’t want it to grow out of control but at the same time I really don’t like clean shaven.

    Do you feel an obligation to have body hair, or even remove some if it is in the “wrong” place?
    Yes. I’ve dealt with women who seem to have no problem with just touching my face to point out how my facial hair should be trimmed.

    Do you think you have too much, too little, or is this something you’ve never really thought of?
    For now I think what I have (goatee, sideburns, tiny mustache, afro on top).

    When you were a teenager and started growing facial hair, were you embarrassed by it, did you feel inadequate if you didn’t grow a lot of facial hair right away, or were you not very affected by it?
    Yes. At least where I grew up facial hair was a sign of growing up and not having it while the other boys did was awkward. But oddly the feeling of awkwardness was mostly internal seeing as there was very little teasing among us.

    How do you feel about the possibility of losing your hair?
    It scares me a bit. Mind you not because I think I would lose my masculinity with it but because I simply don’t think I look right without hair.

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