Bathtime with Floe :}
Photo by Tobias English of
Like his Facebook page! :}
Where would a woman have to come from to have that much body hair naturally?
Not trying to sound like an asshole, this photo is lovely, I am just genuinely curious.Hi there! Thanks for the compliment. :) I was born in the US and am a pretty vast mixture of different ethnicities, mostly European. The biggest chunk (1/4) and the heritage I feel the most connected to is Italian. My grandfather’s side of the family comes from Bari and Calabria in Southern Italy. :) Honestly, through my Body Hair Aware project, I have learned that (as I suspected) male pattern body hair on women is far more common than most people know because most of the women who have it hide and/or remove it with regularity and rarely discuss it. You would be amazed by the number of women (from many different backgrounds and ethnicities) who have messaged me who also have a great deal of body hair - even chest hair. It’s something humanity has rejected for so long, many people don’t even know it exists. I find this and the psychology behind it vastly intriguing.
hey guyz here are my sources:
Basow, Susan A. “The Hairless Ideal : Women and Their Body Hiar.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 15.6 (1991): 83-96. Print.
Guthrie, R. Dale. Body Hot Spots: The Anatomy of Human Social Organs and Behaviour. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1976. Print.
Wilkinson, Sue, and Merran Toerien. “Gender and Body Hair: Constructing the Feminine Woman.” Women’s Studies International Forum 26.4 (2003): 333-44. Print.
Wilkinson, Sue. “Body Hair Removal: The ‘Mundane’ Production of Normative Femininity.” Sex Roles 52.5/6 (2005): 400-05. Print.
Blank, Hanne. “The Erotic Virgin.” Virgin: The Untouched History. New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2007. 193-213. Print.
Brownmiller, Susan. Femininity. New York: Linden/Simon & Schuster, 1984. Print.
Freedman, Rita J. Beauty Bound. Lexington, MA: Heath and, 1986. Print.
Hope, Christine. “Caucasian Female Body Hair and American Culture.” The Journal of American Culture 5.1 (1982): 93-99. Print.
Jeffreys, Sheila. “Chapter 2 - Harmful Cultural Practices and Western Culture.” Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West. London: Routledge, 2005. Print.
Lesnik-Oberstein, Karin. The Last Taboo: Women and Body Hair. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2006. Print.
Rogers, Mary F. Barbie Culture. London: SAGE Publications, 1999.100 - 133. Print.
Watkins, Heidi. Body Image. Farmington Hill, MI: Greenhaven, 2009. 18-80. Print.
I dont usually post writing but here is an essay I wrote last year on female body hair - take a gander if you’re interested. also here is a link to the sources I used - they’re good reads.
In Western culture, the vast majority of women remove the hair on their bodies.(Lesnik-Oberstien,1) This practice has woven its way into our culture resulting in a society that views it as ‘natural’ and ‘inevitable’. It has become a practice that no one questions, no one asks whywe alter our bodies to what they looked like before puberty. The implications of this practice are part of the greater social phenomenon that is redefining the feminine ideal. Through its normalization, we are fostering a society that fetishizes and idealizes prepubescence. I believe we are nurturing a female ideal that is subject to the male gaze and connotes pedophillia. In consequence of this ideology, we are constructing the feminine identity as something that can only exist within the realm adolescence, rendering the grown woman ‘unfeminine’ and invisible.
The western feminine ideal focuses on the absence of female body hair, the presence of body hair is not part of our dominant discourse. Importance is placed on the ‘lack’ of . When it is discussed it is described as ‘unfeminine’, ‘excess hair’, ‘superfluous hair’ or ‘unwanted hair’(Lesnik-Oberstien.3). It is only mentioned in advertising for hair removal products, or in women’s magazine articles discussing hair-removal techniques. Much like how it is perceived and mentioned in popular culture, academic texts adhere to the same discourse, there are little or no texts discussing the hair itself. The absence of this discussion reinforces its position as a product of an ideology and calls more attention to whyit is a taboo topic.
Karin Oberstein emphasizes the importance of this absence,
Women’s body hair remains an area of silence and blankness. It is the polarity of the ridiculous trivially and threatening monstrosity of women’s body hair, expressed in its near-complete invisibility or absence both in language and visual imagery. Is body hair in every sense so utterly irrelevant that there is absolutely nothing to be said about it other than brief and repetitive instructions on how to remove it? In this age where every topic is milked for its commercial or academic interest, why has, apparently, nothing been considered to be worth saying about body hair? In short why does body hair appear at one and the same time meaningless: there is nothing to be said about it or shown about it, and as too meaningful - too disgusting/horrible/private - to be permitted mention? (2)
Though hairlessness is the ‘ideal’, it is not the inevitable state of the female body; to be hairless requires work. Women’s practice of hair removal may be understood as one means of transforming the body such that it more closely resembles the feminine ideal(Wilkinson,400). “There was nothing wrong or unnatural about the hair that grew back in places where i tried to will it away. It had a perfect biological right to be there. It had a perfect female right to be there. What it did not have, however, was a feminine right.” (Brownmiller,142). In this excerpt from her book Femininity, Susan Brownmiller recognizes the correlation between hair removal and femininity. The “feminine right” Brownmiller is referring to is society’s accepted view of what is ‘feminine’. What Brownmiller calls to attention is the disconnect between the natural state of a women’s body and the ideal ‘feminine’ state, this disconnect clarifies that ‘femininity’ is an ideology that is placed into society. The marketing of the ideology, ‘femininity’, is key to the success of the continuing normative practice of hair removal.
Presenting hair removal as a necessary feminine trait that targets women’s acceptance of gender norms and elevates the importance of shaving to something, that if deviated from, will render a woman ‘unfeminine’.
During the 1920s, magazine ads emphasized the importance of appearance for women in order to “ensure [her mates] fidelity in particular and home security in general”(Basow,84). It became a woman’s duty to attract and please men by her appearance in the “beauty contest of life” or else lose out on patriarchal privilege (Basow,84). Fashion trends started to change; hemlines were shortened, silk stockings became popularized, and bathing suits started to show more skin. Due to the revealing nature of the clothing hair removal became popular. Both hair removal and the new fashion trends were focused on attracting men and maintaining femininity.
In reaction to these changes, the female body started change in appearance too, unlike the voluptuous figures favoured from the Middles Ages, a thin “girlish” figure became the ideal. The flapperlook became popularized, and fashion ads started to depict drawings of models with super long legs that are characteristic of a late-maturing fourteen year old who is in the early phases of puberty(Freedman.157).
Advertisements such as a Neet ad which first appeared in October of 1928, encouraged women to buy their product, promising it would leave one’s legs “as hair-free as a child’s,” the most fundamental element of “true feminine allure” (Freedman,102). Hair removal did just that; it returned women to a pre-pubescent state by removing one of the most noticeable signs of maturation: underarm hair. Arguably then, for women to appear childlike was considered feminine and desirable.
The “child like” look is a phenomenon that is referred to as neoteny; which is when juvenile characteristics persist into maturity. The existence of neotenic traits in femininity can reveal that femininity is producer lead, and can be seen as a tool of a product to encourage the male pedophiliac gaze. Neotenic traits are attractive to the male gender because they call for domination - since they reinforce the submissive nature of preadolescence, therefore reinforcing the social dominance of males. Hair removal then, can be seen as the ultimate form of neoteny and femininity. The removal of hair signals a prepubescent virginal state that is waiting to be dominated, adversely, body hair signals sexual maturity as well as dominance.
As the ideal “feminine” state progresses it moves towards an extreme of the neotenic state, which can be viewed as pedophiliac. This neotenic obsession has extended to the genitals and the removal of pubic hair has entered into the discourse of femininity. In current discourse pubic hair is generally trimmed or shaven, catering to our society that is enamoured with the prepubescent girl. Few women dare to venture onto beds or into beaches without first pruning away ‘unsightly’, ‘embarrassing’, even ‘repulsive’ growth of pubic hair (Brownmiller,156). If this hair is to be shown it would announce loudly that a sexual organ lies just behind the boundary. A vagina without pubic hair is the preferred state because it reverts a woman back to prepubescence, giving her newness and inexperience. The absence of pubic hair reinstates a women’s subordinate position and in turn plays into the fantasy of ‘the virgin adolescent’ who holds no dominant sexual control. “The erotic charge of sex with a virgin rests on the interplay of sexual aggression of an experienced partner and the equal submission of a virginal one.”(Blank,210).
The removal of female body hair shows how strongly both women and men are socialized to mistrust the natural adult female form(Freedman,199). By continuing this practice we are nurturing an ideology that can not exist. The emphasis on pre-pubescence betrays the growing girl, when she reaches puberty, hormones round out her breasts, but they also layer her thighs with “unsightly” fat and cover her legs with “unwanted, superfluous” hair. This emphasis on prepubescence is producing a feminine image where a female cannot grow up, therefore she lives in a conflicting state where she must juxtapose her adult self with childlike attributes. In R.Dale Guthrie’s book Body Hot Spots, Guthrie discusses the key to maximizing ones attractiveness(femininity), “to tune up both forms of natural beauty at once, mixing and balancing signals of modest purity with those of overt sexuality. Monroe’s pouting smile and purring voice, for example, conveyed innocence even as her broad behind swayed seductively.”(100) To remain feminine, the prepubescent girl must reveal and conceal her newly developed body. In fulfilling the feminine role, women are often required to disappear because of their difference as females but conveniently reappear because of their beauty.(Wilkinson,341)
The worshipping of these neotenic traits during the first half of the female life cycle leads to a beauty crisis during the second half (Freedman,200). The feminized beauty emphasizes an infantile look, making women increasingly more vulnerable as they mature. Age erases their baby faces, and sets the stage for a mid-life beauty crisis. Such conflicting messages can only lead to a “conflicted self ” When female body hair is deemed socially acceptable, only then can we start to accept the female adult as part of the feminine discourse, we can only grow as much as we see and because hair is still hidden it will still be a topic that is dismissed.
- Petra Collins