Sex Roles

, Volume 39, Issue 11–12, pp 873–885 | Cite as

The Hairlessness Norm: The Removal of Body Hair in Women

  • Marika Tiggemann
  • Sarah J. Kenyon


This study aimed to investigate the frequency andmeaning of the removal of body hair in women.Participants were 129 female university students (meanage = 22.3 years) and 137 female high school students (mean age = 14.3 years). Almost all (>95%)were Caucasian. It was found that, as predicted, the vastmajority (92%) of women remove their leg and/or underarmhair, most frequently by shaving. This was irrespective of their feminist beliefs, but wasnegatively related to self-esteem in university students.The reasons cited for hair removal were primarilyconcerned with a desire for femininity andattractiveness. However, the reasons provided for starting toremove body hair differed between the groups, in thatthey were relatively more normative for the universitystudents than for the high school students. It was concluded that women's stated reasons forstarting the practice of hair removal reflectprimarilytheir vantage point as an observer. In fact, removingbody hair is a practice so normative as to go mostly unremarked, but one which contributessubstantially to the notion that womens' bodies areunacceptable as they are.


High School Social Psychology High School Student Vantage Point Stated Reason 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marika Tiggemann
  • Sarah J. Kenyon

There are no affiliations available

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