Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 59, Issue 11, pp 889-897

The Hairlessness Norm Extended: Reasons for and Predictors of Women’s Body Hair Removal at Different Body Sites

  • Marika TiggemannAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Flinders University Email author 
  • , Suzanna HodgsonAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Flinders University

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Abstract

The study aimed to explore the motivations behind and predictors of the practice of body hair removal among women. A sample of 235 Australian female undergraduate students completed questionnaires asking about the frequency and reasons for body hair removal, as well as measures of media exposure. It was confirmed that the vast majority (approximately 96%) regularly remove their leg and underarm hair, most frequently by shaving, and attribute this to femininity and attractiveness reasons. A sizeable proportion (60%) also removed at least some of their pubic hair, with 48% removing most or all of it. Here the attributions were relatively more to sexual attractiveness and self-enhancement. Further, having a partner and exposure to particular forms of media predicted pubic hair removal. It was concluded that pubic hair removal is currently different in connotation from leg or underarm hair, but is likely to be on the increase. It can only further the belief that women’s bodies are unacceptable the way they are.

Keywords

Body hair Hairlessness norm Hair removal Pubic hair