Sex Roles

, Volume 52, Issue 5, pp 399–406

Body Hair Removal: The ‘Mundane’ Production of Normative Femininity

  • Merran Toerien
  • Sue Wilkinson
  • Precilla Y. L. Choi
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11199-005-2682-5

Cite this article as:
Toerien, M., Wilkinson, S. & Choi, P.Y.L. Sex Roles (2005) 52: 399. doi:10.1007/s11199-005-2682-5

Abstract

Although women’s body hair removal is strongly normative across contemporary Western cultures, only two studies of ‘mundane’ depilation have been published, and they were based on data from the US (Basow, 1991) and Australia (Tiggemann & Kenyon, 1998), respectively. The present survey, comprised of a sample of 678 women, extends this work. We investigated UK practices, a wider array of body regions and removal methods, and the relationship between depilation and age. Over 99% of participants reported removing some hair, most commonly from the underarms, legs, pubic area, and eyebrows. Shaving and plucking were the most common removal methods. Significant relationships between age and leg, pubic, and facial depilation were found. Results document the normativity of hair removal, and we argue that hair removal is part of the taken-for-granted work of producing an ‘acceptable’ femininity.

Keywords

body hairdepilationfemininity

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Merran Toerien
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Sue Wilkinson
    • 1
  • Precilla Y. L. Choi
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Social SciencesLoughborough UniversityUK
  2. 2.MRC Health Services Research Collaboration, Department of Social MedicineUniversity of BristolUK
  3. 3.Centre for Ageing, Rehabilitation, Exercise and SportVictoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.MRC Health Services Research Collaboration, Department of Social MedicineUniversity of BristolBristolUnited Kingdom