Gender, Self-Objectification and Pubic Hair Removal

Abstract

Pubic hair removal is common in college age men and women in the United States and Australia. The present research addresses two questions related to this practice: (1) Are objectification and body shape concerns related to pubic hair removal; and (2) Do these relationships differ by gender? U.S. undergraduates, 148 women and 76 men, completed questionnaires about the presence, frequency of, and reasons for pubic hair removal; self-objectification, including self-surveillance and body shame; self-consciousness in sexual situations; and drives for leanness, thinness, and muscularity. While both genders reported similar rates of pubic hair removal, women reported greater frequency and higher normative, sexiness, and cleanliness reasons for pubic hair removal. Normative and sexiness reasons were positively correlated with self-surveillance. The relationships among normative and sexiness reasons and self-objectification were significantly higher for women with women’s body shame and self-surveillance scores more strongly impacted by normative and sexiness reasons. Findings are interpreted within the framework of objectification theory.

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Correspondence to Linda Smolak.

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Smolak, L., Murnen, S.K. Gender, Self-Objectification and Pubic Hair Removal. Sex Roles 65, 506–517 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9922-z

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Keywords

  • Body hair removal
  • Body image
  • Objectification theory