Article

Attitudes Toward Women's Body Hair: Relationship with Disgust Sensitivity

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

We aimed to further investigate the “hairlessness” norm that is the common practice of body hair removal among women. A sample of 198 undergraduate students (91 men, 107 women) completed questionnaires asking about attitudes toward women's body hair and the reasons women remove this hair, as well as a measure of disgust sensitivity. It was found that the vast majority (98%) of female participants regularly remove their leg and/or underarm hair, most frequently by shaving, and attribute this to femininity and attractiveness reasons. However, the attributions that they and men made for other women were much more socially normative in nature. For the sample as a whole, negative attitudes toward body hair were related to disgust sensitivity. It was concluded that body hair on women, but not on men, has become an elicitor of disgust and its removal correspondingly normative.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... This hairless ideal operates to produce an environment where body hair removal is so normative that the presence of body hair is constructed as unnatural. Although the absence of many forms of hair on men's bodies is becoming less commented upon, its presence is still a long way from being treated with the disgust and eradication that women's hair is (Fahs, 2011(Fahs, , 2013bFahs & Delgado, 2011;Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004). Men's bodies are, however, becoming increasingly visible in many Western countries, a new focus of attention in advertising, in health campaigns and across broader media, and it tends to be a minimally hairy male body that is made visible (Gill, Henwood, & McLean, 2005). ...
... The BHRA survey was a mixed (qualitative dominated) design (see with questions and structure developed from VB's previous hair removal research survey tool (reference removed for review), and on hair surveys made available by other hair researchers (Basow, 1991;Riddell, Varto, & Hodgson, 2010;Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004;Toerien & Wilkinson, 2004). The survey was then subjected to peer review by a group of expert hair researchers, and underwent piloting (N = 65), followed by refinement. ...
... Should be banned" -P10, male, 35, heterosexual, married); it also included simple expressions of disgust (e.g., ewwww -P440, female, 34, heterosexual, married). The connection between women's body hair and 'disgust sensitivity' has already been identified by Tiggemann and Lewis (2004), but their sample did not make the same levels of negative attributions about male body hair that our participants did. We do not treat disgust language as a straightforward reflection of an internal affective state (Wetherell, 2012) but instead, in line with our theoretical position, as discourse, and as much about creating meaning as expressing it. ...
Article
Men's hair removal practices are becoming mainstream, seen as a consequence of changing masculine norms and men's relationships to their bodies. This is often presented as a straightforward 'shift' from men's ideal bodies as naturally hairy, to increased hairlessness, and the consequence on men's body concerns as inevitable. This paper analyses qualitative survey data from Aotearoa/New Zealand using critical thematic analysis, and describes three themes. Two themes capture contradictory ideas: that men's body hair is natural, and that men's body hair is unpleasant. A third theme introduces the concept of 'excess' hair, which allowed sense-making of this contradiction, mandating men's grooming of 'excessive' hair. However its vagueness as a concept may provoke anxiety for men resulting in hair removal. This paper adds to a body of research demonstrating a cultural transition: the ways changing masculinities, increased commodification of male bodies, and shifting gender roles impact on men's hair removal practices.
... Þaer rannsóknir sem gerðar hafa verið á líkamshárarakstri og kynfaerarakstri kvenna staðfesta að konur finna fyrir miklum félagslegum þrýstingi að halda hárvextinum í skefjum til að viðhalda kvenlegri ímynd sinni. Þá hafa tvaer ástralskar rannsóknir staðfest að fylgni er á milli kynfaeraraksturs annars vegar og mikils lesturs á tískublöðum og mikils áhorfs á vinsaela sjónvarpsþaetti hins vegar (Tiggemann og Kenyon, 1998;Tiggemann og Lewis, 2004). Daegurmenning og kynfaerarakstur kvenna virðast því að miklu leyti vera samofin. ...
... Í frásögnum allra viðmaelenda mátti finna vísbendingar um að utanaðkomandi þrýstingur og samfélagsleg viðmið hefðu haft áhrif á ákvarðanatöku þeirra þrátt fyrir að ýmsar persónulegar ástaeður vaeru tilgreindar fyrir rakstrinum. Það er í samraemi við niðurstöður margra erlendra rannsókna sem sýna að konur virðast fyrst og fremst snyrta líkamshár sín í þeim tilgangi að auka á kvenlegt aðdráttarafl sitt og til þess að falla að þeim gildum og viðmiðum sem samfélagið setur þeim (Basow, 1991;Braun o.fl., 2013;Pan, 2011;Riddell o.fl., 2010;Tiggemann og Lewis, 2004;Tiggemann og Hodgson, 2008). Eins og rakið hefur verið í þessari grein hafa viðmið um ásaettanlegan líkamshárvöxt á konum tekið þó nokkrum breytingum á undanförnum árum og áratugum og svo virðist sem þeim sé sífellt sniðinn þrengri rammi í þeim efnum. ...
... Það undirstrikar hversu skýr samfélagsleg krafa virðist nú vera gerð til kvenna um að halda hárvextinum á kynfaerasvaeðinu í skefjum. Í ummaelum viðmaelenda mátti einnig finna vísbendingar um áhrif daegurmenningar þegar kemur að kynfaerarakstri og fer það saman við niðurstöður tveggja ástralskra rannsókna sem sýndu fram á að fylgni er á milli kynfaeraraksturs annars vegar og mikils lesturs á tískublöðum og mikils áhorfs á vinsaela sjónvarpsþaetti hins vegar (Tiggemann og Kenyon, 1998;Tiggemann og Lewis, 2004). Raunar hafa margir rakið vinsaeldir hinnar svokölluðu brasilísku vaxmeðferðar í hinum vestraena heimi til sjónvarpsþáttarins Sex and the City (sjá t.d. ...
Article
Full-text available
tdráttur: Í byrjun 20. aldar fóru konur að fjarlaegja hár undir höndum og á fótum og að undanförnu hefur það faerst í vöxt að konur kjósi einnig að fjarlaegja öll hár af kynfaerasvaeð-inu. Fáar rannsóknir hafa verið gerðar um líkamshárarakstur kvenna, sem gefur vísbendingu um hversu rótgróin og viðtekin sú hugmynd er að kvenleiki og líkamshár fari ekki saman. Í þessari grein er kynfaerarakstur kvenna skoðaður þar sem sérstök áhersla er lögð á að varpa ljósi á hvers vegna konur kjósa í síauknum maeli að fjarlaegja öll skapahárin. Greiningin byggir á eigindlegri rannsókn þar sem tekin voru átta opin viðtöl við konur á aldrinum 20-36 ára, sem allar höfðu reynslu af því að fjarlaegja öll skapahár sín. Niðurstöðurnar renna stoðum undir þaer fullyrðingar að nauðrakstur á skapahárum sé orðinn hið hefðbundna viðmið þegar kemur að skapahárasnyrtingu ungra kvenna en helstu ástaeður sem nefndar voru fyrir rakstr-inum sneru að hreinlaeti og aukinni ánaegju í kynlífi. Allir viðmaelendur tóku skýrt fram að ákvörðun þeirra um að fjarlaegja öll skapahárin hefði alfarið verið tekin á þeirra eigin for-sendum. Þó mátti í frásögnum þeirra allra greina vísbendingar um að utanaðkomandi þrýstingur og samfélagsleg viðmið hefðu haft áhrif á ákvarðanatöku þeirra. Lykilorð: Kynjafraeði ■ kynfaeri kvenna ■ staðalímyndir ■ kynfaerarakstur Abstract: In the early 20th century women started removing hair from under their arms and their legs and recently the removal of all pubic hair has become a growing trend among them. Very little research has been carried out on women's removal of pubic hair, which in itself is an indication of how conventionalized the idea of the incomaptibility of body hair and femininity has become. In this study women's removal of pubic hair is examined from a number of angles, but the main aim is to reach an understanding of why increasing numbers of women choose to remove all their pubic hair. A qualitative approach is used, based on open-ended interviews with eight 20-36 year old women, all of whom have experience of completely removing their pubic hair. The results of the study support the claim that the full removal of pubic hair has become the norm among younger women, but the informants mainly stated that they did this for sanitary reasons or for increased sexual pleasure. All the informants adamantly claimed that their decision to fully remove their pubic hair had been reached on their own terms. However, their accounts clearly indicated that external pressure and societal values also played its part.
... The hairless norm in particular is a "taken for granted" aspect of normative femininity (Smelik, 2015, pg.237). Women are taught that hairlessness is natural, and hairiness is not only unnatural, but something that is shameful and secretive (Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004). ...
... Body hair, though a sign of sexual maturity in both men and women, has become strictly associated with men and masculinity. Hope (1982) argues that the practice of body hair removal between 1915 and 1945 was prompted by a re-invention of idealised white womanhood during/after the World Wars and by the need for a symbolic marker of gender difference when more physical ones, such as the corsets, began to be lost (Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004). To uphold the more powerful and dominant position of men, a lack of body hair began to be equated with femininity, and so in turn women's more submissive and passive position in society. ...
... Because women of colour are treated as inherently further from acceptable femininity, their body hair then becomes particularly unacceptable, and they are more vulnerable to the accusations of masculinity. Though body hair removal as a form of gender differentiation is significant for women of all races (Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004), women of colour face a greater social threat (through the removal of their femininity, as an example) by not doing so. To be an acceptable women based on the racist, misogynistic, and heteronormative beauty standards they must emulate whiteness as closely as possible, in this case through body hair removal practice, or be perceived as masculine, less sexually attractive, social and intelligent (Basow & Braman, 1998). ...
Article
Full-text available
This research will look at the history of body hair removal, and how it is intertwined with/ integral to dominant whiteness and the construction of submissive, heteronormative, white femininity. Women of colour are forced to exist on the fringes of femininity, and have their femininity questioned and rescinded when they stray from these restrictions. The purpose of this research is to give voice to women of colour and to understand the intersectional relationship between race, gender, and women's body modification practices, which I feel is an underdeveloped area of research. This report has a four-section literature review which looks at the existing literature on body hair removal, across sociological, psychological, medical and fashion journals. I then discuss the research methodology and then research findings, which is organised thematically based on both the literature review and trends from the research itself.
... This is reinforced by the invisibility of hair removal practices -it is effects, rather than processes, of women's hair removal that are seen in public space (Rice, 2009). In this context, hair on women's bodies is associated with affects such as disgust (Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004) and shame (Fahs, 2012;Rice, 2009), rather than the indifference, ambivalence, or indeed the flexibility of choice (cisgender) men now seem to have with their body hair and its removal (Terry & Braun, 2013. Women's bodies must always and everywhere be hairless; men's bodies can be hairy (within limits), or not, natural, trimmed, or fully depilated. ...
... Despite high levels of conformity to the hairless ideal among Western women, it is still often presented as a free choice Li & Braun, 2017). Research indicates that women often report little impact of social pressures limiting their agency -seeing other women's choices as constrained, but rarely their own (Tiggemann & Hodgson, 2008;Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004). Further, the costs of hair removal continue to have little impact on women's choices. ...
... The survey was a mixed, but qualitative dominated, design (see , with questions and structure developed from the second author's previous hair removal research survey tool, and surveys made available by other hair researchers (Basow, 1991;Riddell, Varto, & Hodgson, 2010;Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004;Toerien & Wilkinson, 2004). The survey was subjected to peer review by a group of expert hair researchers and underwent piloting (N ¼ 65), followed by refinement. ...
Article
Hair removal amongst Western women is ubiquitous, and research continues to highlight the ongoing conformity of almost all women with hair removal practices. Often women are presented as either cultural dupes, following the expectations of the Western hairless ideal without question, or highly engaged participants in the rigours of aesthetic labour, using it for their own agentic purposes. This paper seeks to explore the various ways that younger women (18–35) made sense of their own and others’ hair removal practices. We report on a thematic analysis of data generated from an online (mostly) qualitative survey with 299 female-identified respondents. Four themes were constructed: (1) women should do what they want with their body hair, (2) removing hair is socially shaped, (3) begrudging complicity, and (4) resistance to hair removal norms takes a particular kind of woman. We discuss the ways in which women described their practices and thinking where they seemed simultaneously complicit with and resistant to idealised notions of feminine embodiment.
... This hairless ideal operates to produce an environment where body hair removal is so normative that the presence of body hair is constructed as unnatural. Although the absence of many forms of hair on men's bodies is becoming less commented upon, its presence is still a long way from being treated with the disgust and eradication that women's hair is (Fahs, 2011Fahs, , 2013b Fahs & Delgado, 2011; Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004). Men's bodies are, however, becoming increasingly visible in many Western countries, a new focus of attention in advertising , in health campaigns and across broader media, and it tends to be a minimally hairy male body that is made visible (Gill, Henwood, & McLean, 2005). ...
... The BHRA survey was a mixed (qualitative dominated) design (see) with questions and structure developed from VB's previous hair removal research survey tool (reference removed for review), and on hair surveys made available by other hair researchers (Basow, 1991; Riddell, Varto, & Hodgson, 2010; Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004; Toerien & Wilkinson, 2004 ). The survey was then subjected to peer review by a group of expert hair researchers, and underwent piloting (N = 65), followed by refinement. ...
... A 'new' culture of men's grooming was presented as a way to maintain the (youthful) appearance of a man's body, and therefore their ongoing attractiveness. The rhetoric associated with the importance of grooming was similar to notions of grooming and self-care articulated in regard to women's bodies for decades (Basow, 1991; Basow & Willis, 2001; Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004). Occasionally the historically different treatment of women's bodies was noted: " If a guy has really thick hair in the pubic region, it wouldn't hurt them to groom a little bit. ...
Article
Men's hair removal practices are becoming mainstream, seen as a consequence of changing masculine norms and men's relationships to their bodies. This is often presented as a straightforward 'shift' from men's ideal bodies as naturally hairy, to increased hairlessness, and the consequence on men's body concerns as inevitable. This paper analyses qualitative survey data from Aotearoa/New Zealand using critical thematic analysis, and describes three themes. Two themes capture contradictory ideas: that men's body hair is natural, and that men's body hair is unpleasant. A third theme introduces the concept of 'excess' hair, which allowed sense-making of this contradiction, mandating men's grooming of 'excessive' hair. However its vagueness as a concept may provoke anxiety for men resulting in hair removal. This paper adds to a body of research demonstrating a cultural transition: the ways changing masculinities, increased commodification of male bodies, and shifting gender roles impact on men's hair removal practices.
... This is important to keep in mind when looking at body hair practices, as research shows a link between shame and embarrassment in relation to body hair (Li & Braun, 2016), more so among women than men (Braun & Wilkinson, 2003;Fahs, 2014a;Terry, Braun, Jayamaha, & Madden, 2017). Tiggemann and Lewis (2004) explore how women's body hair evokes an affect of disgust, while the same is not true in relation to men's body hair. The removal of body hair has become a relatively normative practice among Anglo/ Western women (Butler, Smith, Collazo, Caltabiano, & Herbenick, 2015;Li & Braun, 2016;Terry & Braun, 2016;Tiggemann & Hodgson, 2008;Toerien, Wilkinson, & Choi, 2005). ...
... Gendered body hair practices are powerfully linked with idealized femininities (see Epperlein & Anderson, 2016), where hair on the bodies of women is loaded with negative affect, such as disgust (Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004) and shame (Fahs, 2011). Bartky (1991) states that shame is a pervasive affective attuning to the social environment, indicating that it continually connects us to our environment. ...
Article
Iceland's performance on the Gender Gap Index has been outstanding in the last nine years. It now has a reputation for being one of the most gender equal countries in the world. However, local feminist activists argue that challenges to full gender equality remain. Underlying both the dominant gender equality rhetoric and feminist activism is a neoliberal, postfeminist sensibility that all are free to choose their most preferred body practices and that empowerment is a fact. There are, however, more subtle indications that young people's views of body hair practices, hinging around binaristic gender norms, are more ambivalent than that. This paper investigates how body hair practices are performed among young Icelandic people. The theoretical framework draws on feminist, poststructuralist, and affect theories. The data was collected between 2012 and 2016 and consists of semi-structured interviews with young women and men, group interviews with five young women based on co-operative inquiry, and an instrumental case study focusing on the issue of body hair practices. The analysis shows that shame and disgust remain entangled with practices around body hair among both men and women. It is gendered in that women's bodies are under more surveillance than men's. The paper concludes that, notwithstanding feminist activism and gender equality rhetoric, policing around body hair practices still exists in contemporary Icelandic society.
... I don't think a lot of people go completely off [hairless] and I don't think a lot of people just leave it au natural, so I think everyone is sort of somewhere in between. (Participant 278,(26)(27)(28)(29)(30)white/European,heterosexual) Previous research similarly suggests that women are primarily motivated to remove pubic hair to achieve ideals of femininity and attractiveness (Basow, 1991;Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004). Interestingly, however, some women attributed normative pressures as the primary motivator of pubic hair removal in other women but were less willing to attribute those pressures to their own hair removal practices (Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004). ...
... (Participant 278,(26)(27)(28)(29)(30)white/European,heterosexual) Previous research similarly suggests that women are primarily motivated to remove pubic hair to achieve ideals of femininity and attractiveness (Basow, 1991;Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004). Interestingly, however, some women attributed normative pressures as the primary motivator of pubic hair removal in other women but were less willing to attribute those pressures to their own hair removal practices (Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004). As seen in women's accounts above, this positions the ''choice'' to remove hair within the individual and does not fully account for sociocultural forces that shape individual choice. ...
Article
Women’s genitalia are constructed as a bodily site requiring ongoing surveillance, maintenance, and modification to conform to social norms. Women engage in a range of genital health, hygiene, and beauty practices, including the use of commercial and homemade vaginal douches, washes, wipes, sprays, and pubic hair removal, to modify their bodies. Using a social constructionist framework, we draw on interviews with 49 Canadian women to examine the construction of idealized (Western) genitalia as hairless, odorless, and free of discharge and ‘natural’ female genitalia as problematic through the mobilization of normative femininity and (hetero)sexuality discourses. Theorizing women’s genital health, hygiene, and beauty practices as a form of body work, we examine how women’s genital body work is constructed as a necessary and thus normative practice of femininity undertaken in the pursuit of idealized genitalia. A minority perspective that drew on alternative discourses to construct female genitalia as acceptable irrespective of genital body work is examined. Throughout our analysis, we examine the ways in which women negotiate issues of agency and choice in relation to their genital body work. Implications for women’s health in the context of the vaginal microbiome are explored.
... Students learn to comprehend normative sex development as non-normative (again, this is gender in disguise) and so these lessons participate in the creation of many of the sufferings which we study in adolescent psychology such as: cisgender girls and body image (Suisman et al., 2014), or hair disgust (Fahs, 2014;Tiggeman & Lewis, 2004), trans individuals and body dysmorphia (Martinerie et al., 2018;van de Grift et al., 2016), cisgender males and pressures of athleticism and muscularity (Carlson & Crawford, 2005;Ricciardelli & McCabe, 2004), intersex individuals not fitting dominant gender norms (Lee & Houk, 2008;Posch, 2019), and the lessons of veiled compulsory heterosexuality which can occur in an environment of school, family, and peer life that is often hostile to notions of sexuality and gender diversity (D'augelli, 2002;Kosciw et al., 2014). ...
... Importantly, it should be noted that ultimately it is gender norms that create a paradigm of pubertal strain for all genders, as people of all genders (trans and cis/traditionally gendered) are afraid of manifesting the bodies of the "wrong" gender. Many trans masculine young people experience body dysmorphia, and gender dysphoria with the onset of breast development (Pulice-Farrow et al., 2020;van de Grift et al., 2016), many traditionally cis-gendered girls experience body image disturbance and disgust with hair growth perceived as masculine and unhygienic (Fahs, 2014;Tiggeman & Lewis, 2004), trans feminine young people may experience dysphoria with the development of facial hair, and traditionally gendered cis-males will likely feel such strain with normative breast development (Lemaine et al., 2013). All of these are bodily developments which have been presented as separators by gender normative body expectations, and so are experienced in particular ways. ...
Article
Full-text available
The following article presents a paradigm shift in order to engage in more expansive pedagogy in the teaching of puberty; specifically, to create a more inclusive and affirming space for LGBTIQA + youth. Attention to LGBTQIA + populations has slowly been integrated into many areas of research, theory, and teaching in psychology and related disciplines. While positive strides have been made, lessons on adolescent psychology, and puberty specifically, remain stuck in older binary models. The following is an examination of the dominant approach utilized for teaching puberty in senior-level high school and early undergraduate adolescent psychology courses, a critique of that model, as well as a presentation of a new model for teaching pubertal development. A proposed Model of Expansive Pubertal Understanding is shared here, and allows for a fuller, more accurate, and more positive, approach to pubertal development. It is further proposed that the information shared in this model be infused much earlier in youth education, and through a breadth of disciplines, to effectively promote psychological and physical wellbeing among children and youth of diverse genders, sexes, and sexualities.
... In addition to clinical disorders, examination of individual differences in disgust has informed current understanding of other phenomena, including cultural perceptions of beauty. For example, Tiggemann and Lewis (2004) found that both men's and women's disgust levels predicted negative attitudes about women's body hair. Relatedly, disgust responding may also predict mate preferences. ...
Chapter
Disgust has been described as a basic emotion that evolved largely as a defensive mechanism. Although previously described as the ‘forgotten emotion,’ research on the emotion of disgust has seen a considerable rise in the last few decades. Accordingly, investigation into individual differences in disgust responding has become increasingly more prominent in the emotion literature over the last three decades. With this increase in attention, a parallel evolution in the development of disgust assessment has also emerged. Each measure has its own strengths and weaknesses, and choosing the appropriate measure may vary depending on the research question of interest, the study population, and research methodology. The present chapter will review the assessment of disgust through available self-report, behavioral, and implicit measures. Implications for understanding disgust and its measurement are discussed.
... 366). See Tiggeman & Lewis (2004) for data on normative disgust associated with women's body hair. first two of which were borrowed from Cash and LaBarge's (1996) Appearance Schemas Inventory and the third of which came from the shame subscale of McKinley & Hyde's (1996) Objectified Body Consciousness Scale: To be feminine, a woman must be as pretty as possible, I should do whatever I can to always look my best, and I feel ashamed of myself when I haven't made the effort to look my best. ...
Article
Pervasive sexual objectification of women in our culture trains women to take an observer's (critical) perspective on the physical self. This self-objectification preoccupies women with chronic body surveillance and shame as they evaluate the extent to which they fall short of the feminine beauty ideal portrayed in popular media - an ideal that requires substantial modification of the natural body. Connectedness to nature (CN) refers to the extent to which an individual's sense of self includes an awareness of himself or herself as part of the natural world. CN is positively related to proenvironmental attitudes and behavior. Two correlational studies and an experiment supported a theoretical model in which self-objectification and internalization of the feminine beauty ideal degrade women's CN - because they alienate women from their natural bodies and limit women's nature-embedded experiences - leading to less environmentally friendly behavior.
... Of course, if shaving were truly a 'free' or 'personal' choice, it would be unlikely that 95% of women would follow the same course of action; nevertheless, neoliberal ideology rejects evidence of such social influence in favor of agency narratives. Hairless norm scholars Tiggemann and Lewis (2004) observed a similar phenomenon among their sample of 198 South Australian undergraduates; these young women agreed that other women are coerced into hair removal, but insisted that they remove their own body hair due to 'personal preference' and 'choice. ' Some self-identified male viewers also insist that their erotic preference for hairless women is a 'personal choice. ...
Article
Full-text available
The corporeal turn in the social sciences has stimulated considerable interdisciplinary research into embodied stigmas, but these theories do not account for why certain traits become more stigmatized than others. This study argues that the ‘real women’ imagery associated with the Western Body Positive movement reveals a ‘pariah femininity’ hierarchy: fat women achieve representation significantly more often than hairy women. In order to identify the stigma differential that might account for this representational difference, this study comparatively analyzes the parameters of stigma that United States viewers associate with each trait. A discourse analysis of online feedback from campaign viewers yields two important findings: (1) white women’s body hair poses a relative threat to patriarchal gender ideology and (2) viewers associate women’s body hair, more so than women’s body fat, with feminism. These two findings have important implications for academic efforts to theorize corporeal stigma, hegemonic femininity, and feminist stigma management.
... This is particularly evident when individuals, but particularly women, do not conform to the thin ideal (e.g., McKinley 1999;Puhl and Brownell 2001;Sobal 2004). Several studies have also found that women who do not shave their legs and underarms are deemed unattractive as well as less intelligent, happy, and sociable than women who do remove body hair (e.g., Basow and Braman 1998;Tiggemann and Lewis 2004). Research on makeup illustrates a similar process of negative treatment and social sanctioning when women fail to conform to hegemonic beauty norms (e.g., Dellinger and Williams 1997). ...
Article
Sociologists have developed a wide range of pedagogical strategies to facilitate student learning about racial/ethnic, class, and gender inequalities. Despite the growing subdiscipline of the sociology of the body and evidence pointing to the prevalence of inequalities based on physical attractiveness, the pedagogical literature has yet to develop strategies for teaching students about biases based on physical attractiveness. In this article, the authors report on a pedagogical module that involves student evaluations of photographs (depicting individuals ranging in levels of physical attractiveness) using semantic differential scales, and discuss the results of this evaluation. The authors test for student learning outcomes through (1) a one-group pretestposttest design and (2) an assessment survey with both qualitative and quantitative components. Because this photograph evaluation typically illustrates students' beauty biases, a discussion of these results, paired with relevant readings, provides a powerful tool for the exchange of ideas about physical attractiveness biases.
... More telling are studies which draw a link between mortality awareness, creatureliness, and negative views of otherwise healthy biological processes, such as sex (Goldenberg, Pyszczynski, McCoy, Greenberg, & Solomon, 1999), pregnancy (Goldenberg, Goplen, Cox, & Arndt, 2007), breastfeeding (Cox, Goldenberg, Arndt, & Pyszczynski, 2007), or the female breast in a medical context (Goldenberg, Arndt, Hart, & Routledge, 2008). Hairiness is another sign of animality that when seen as inappropriate (e.g., women's body hair) is related to disgust sensitivity (Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004); norms about the body, such as thinness, are reinforced under MS as well (Goldenberg, Arndt, Hart, & Brown, 2005). ...
Chapter
The role of disgust in moral psychology has been a matter of much controversy and experimentation over the past 20 or so years. We present here an integrative look at the literature, organized according to the four functions of emotion proposed by integrative functional theory: appraisal, associative, self-regulation, and communicative. Regarding appraisals, we review experimental, personality, and neuroscientific work that has shown differences between elicitors of disgust and anger in moral contexts, with disgust responding more to bodily moral violations such as incest, and anger responding more to sociomoral violations such as theft. We also present new evidence for interpreting the phenomenon of sociomoral disgust as an appraisal of bad character in a person. The associative nature of disgust is shown by evidence for "unreasoning disgust," in which associations to bodily moral violations are not accompanied by elaborated reasons, and not modified by appraisals such as harm or intent. We also critically examine the literature about the ability of incidental disgust to intensify moral judgments associatively. For disgust's self-regulation function, we consider the possibility that disgust serves as an existential defense, regulating avoidance of thoughts that might threaten our basic self-image as living humans. Finally, we discuss new evidence from our lab that moral disgust serves a communicative function, implying that expressions of disgust serve to signal one's own moral intentions even when a different emotion is felt internally on the basis of appraisal. Within the scope of the literature, there is evidence that all four functions of integrative functional theory of emotion may be operating, and that their variety can help explain some of the paradoxes of disgust.
... Social media has a robust influence on the beauty, health and hospitality industry with women and men engaging in weight loss and diets to avoid gaining fat identities that impacted their wellbeing in the long run [44][45][46]. Women and men have turned to waxing, shaving and removal of unwanted facial and body hair in order to meet the beauty standards of societal acceptance [47,48]. Women who did not engage in hair removal were negatively evaluated as being dirty or gross [49,50]. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Beauty is concerned with physical and mental health as both are intimately related. Short-term decisions to alter one’s body structure irrespective of genetic, environmental, occupational and nutritional needs can leave medium- and long-term effects. This chapter analyzes the role of social media and its effects on the standards of beauty. The researchers have summarized the literature on how social media plays a role in affecting beauty trends, body image and self-esteem concerns. There is support that social media affects individuals negatively, in pushing them to engage in life threatening beauty trends due to social compliance and acceptance in society. The aim was to review social networking sites’ impact on perception of standards of beauty and newer unrealistic trends gaining popularity that could alter opinions and also cause harm to individuals in the long run. This is an emerging area of research that is of high importance to the physical and mental health in the beauty, health and hospitality industry with the latter being manifested in depression, anxiety and fear of non-acceptability and being seen as a social gauche.
... This menstrual shame in part stems from the cultural belief that women's bodies in their "natural" state are disordered, pathological, and troublesome (Chrisler 2011;Mansfield and Stubbs 2007); thus, menstrual pain often disappears from view, replaced by a framework that suppresses menstruation and renders it an unspeakable experience. Women learn from an early age to hide or manage their "disgusting" bodies (Roberts and Goldenberg 2007) whether in the form of removing body hair, wearing "sexy" clothes, using beauty products to hide the lines of aging, avoiding breastfeeding in public, worrying about visiting gynecologists' offices, managing their vaginal odors and discharge, or controlling their weight (among other things) (Chrisler 2011;Fahs 2011;Tiggemann and Lewis 2004). ...
... Further, the stimulus material included body hair according to the social norms of the 1970s, which could be considered as unusual in the current social context, where partial or complete body hair removal, especially of pubic hair, is the norm for women and becoming increasingly common for men as well [61][62]. Body hair has not only been linked to decreased sexual attractiveness and nonconformity to social norms [61][62][63][64] but even to disgust [65], which both have been demonstrated to affect eye movements [28,66]. Research with more complex or realistic stimulus material (e.g. ...
Article
Full-text available
In their foundational work on the social construction of gender, Kessler and McKenna (1978) investigated the relationship between gender attribution and genital attribution. We used digital reproductions of the original stimuli to replicate their findings in the current social context. To further investigate the underlying decision processes we applied eye tracking. The stimuli shown varied in the composition of gender cues: from those more commonly associated with maleness to associated with femaleness. Applying the ethnomethodological approach originally used, participants were asked to decide for each stimulus whether they saw a man or a woman and to indicate subjective confidence with the decision. In line with the original results we found that the genital attribution contributed immensely to the gender attribution. Also, male gender was ascribed more often when the penis was present than was female gender when the vulva was shown. Eye tracking revealed that overall most dwell time as a proxy for important information was dedicated to the head, chest and genital areas of all the stimuli. Total dwell time depended on whether the gender attribution was made in line with the depicted genital, if the genital was a penis. Attributing female gender when a penis was present was associated with longer total dwell time, unlike attributing male gender with a vulva shown. This is indicative of higher cognitive effort and more difficulty ignoring the penis as opposed to the vulva. We interpret this finding in context of the persistent male dominance as well as to the socio-cultural understanding of the vulva as a concealed and therefore seemingly absent organ. In summary, we were able to show that the gender attribution is still closely linked to genital attribution when having a binary forced choice task and that the penis is a special cue in this attribution process.
... Body hair can be therefore perceived as a cue of fear. With respect to the emotion of disgust, body hair correlates with disgust sensitivity (Tiggemann and Lewis, 2004), perhaps because hairy bodies can suffer from high loads of ectoparasites that end up transferring diseases to the host animal, and ultimately decreasing the fitness of an individual (Rantala, 1999;Prokop et al., 2013). Thus, it is not surprising to find that their presence was also associated with disgust of spiders. ...
Article
Full-text available
The quality of human-animal interactions may crucially influence conservation efforts. Unfortunately, and despite their important roles in the functioning of the ecosystem, some animals are considered notoriously unpopular. Using the forced-choice paradigm, we investigated which cues humans perceive as frightening and disgusting in spiders, one of the most unpleasant animals in the world. The research was carried out with a representative sample of N = 1,015 Slovak adults. We found that perceived fear and disgust of spiders were triggered predominantly by enlarged chelicerae, enlarged abdomen, and the presence of body hair. Longer legs were associated with perceived fear as well; however, the presence of two eyes did not produce any statistical significance in terms of fear. We hope that further research in this field, where additional cues can be manipulated (e.g., color and number of legs), will improve conservation efforts by using an improved reputation of spiders in the eyes of the general public.
... Such negative attitudes toward body hair on women have been directly related to "disgust sensitivity" (Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004)-an individual's sensitivity to experience, report on, and act in relation to the emotion of disgust. The power of disgust around women's body hair was illustrated powerfully in Fahs and Delgado's (2011) U.S.-based qualitative work on women's body hair growth and display. ...
Article
Full-text available
Women’s and men’s bodies and sexuality can be understood as socially situated and socially produced. This means they are affected by, and developed in relation to, patterned sociocultural meanings and representations. We aim here to understand a recently emergent, and potentially gendered, body practice—pubic hair removal—by examining the meanings people ascribe to pubic hair and its removal. Extending the widespread hairless bodily norm for Anglo/Western women, pubic hair removal is an apparently rapidly growing phenomenon. Men, too, are seemingly practicing pubic hair removal in significant numbers, raising the question of to what extent pubic hair removal should be understood as a gendered phenomenon. What we do not yet know is what people’s understandings and perceptions of pubic hair are, and how they make sense of its removal. Using a qualitative survey, the current study asked a series of questions about pubic hair and its removal, both in general and related to men’s and women’s bodies. In total, 67 participants (100% response rate; 50 female; mean age 29, diverse ethnically, predominantly heterosexual) completed the survey. Thematic analysis identified five key themes in the way people made sense of pubic hair and pubic hair removal that related to choice, privacy, physical attractiveness, sexual impacts, and cleanliness. Meanings around pubic hair and its removal were not consistently gendered, but it was still situated as more of an issue for women. With potential impacts on sexual and psychological well-being, sexuality education provides an important venue for discussing, and questioning, normative ideas about pubic hair.
... Women who resisted shaving body hair felt negatively evaluated as dirty or gross [4] Many women also judged other women who did not remove body hair as less sexually attractive, intelligent, sociable, happy, and positive compared to hairless women [5]. Men also negatively evaluated women who did not remove body hair [6]. ...
... Previous research has identified the semblance of hairlessness on the bodies of adult women as strongly normative within contemporary Western culture (e.g., Basow 1991;Basow and Braman 1998;Ferrante 1988;Hope 1982;Kitzinger and Wilmott 2002;Labre 2002;Tiggeman and Kenyon 1998;Torien andWilkinson 2003, 2004;Toerien, Wilkinson and Choi 2005). Research also suggests that women who contravene the norm of hairlessness may be subject to negative assessments (e.g., Basow and Willis 2001;Tiggemann and Lewis 2004). While Boroughs, Cafri and Thompson (2005) suggest that the practice of body hair removal by men is now common enough in North America to warrant its description as a 'new cultural phenomenon,' data compiled by the National Clearinghouse of Plastic Surgery Statistics suggests that the practice of body hair removal remains strongly gendered. ...
Article
Full-text available
Students speaking to students reveal how they perceive and experience risk — and specifically, risk associated with HIV — during their years attending a small university in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Data were collected in twenty focus group discussions that spanned two years and two cycles of an action research project designed to infuse HIV/AIDS-content/issues into a closely supervised third-year Sociology research methodology course. The project was undertaken in response to a call by HEAIDS (Higher Education HIV/AIDS Programme, funded by the EU) for universities to address HIV/AIDS in curricula. The intention is to prepare young graduates to respond meaningfully to HIV and AIDS when they enter the world of work in a country with alarmingly high levels of HIV prevalence and incidence. Insights from theorists Ulrich Beck (1992) and Mary Douglas (1986) on the cultural dynamics of modernity were used as lenses to view the narratives of students in relation to three key HIV risk factors: alcohol consumption, multiple and concurrent sexual partnerships, and condom use. Gender, which emerged as a cross-cutting issue, was also explored. The rich qualitative data were brought into a dialogue with selected statistics from the HEAIDS 2010 sero-prevalence survey conducted in 21 higher education institutions in the country. Data show that risk perception and risk behaviour are formulated at individual, social network, and societal/structural levels — as well as at the interface between these. Understandably there was variation in how individual students perceive, experience and negotiate risk, but overall, participating students assessed risk in terms of its immediate importance or threat to them, prioritising the now and choosing not to think about the future. Social bonding, including peer pressure, exerts considerable influence on the ways in which students construct and re-construct their perceptions of risk, and HIV/AIDS. From a structural perspective the smallness of the university and the town lulls students into trusting easily and believing that greater visibility leads to greater safety. Sex is “no big deal” and casual sexual relationships are accepted by many as the norm. Although students report high condom use in casual sexual encounters, which mitigates risk, condom use drops sharply in the context of alcohol consumption — and the often excessive consumption — which is “the order of the day”. Overall, patterns in risk perception and behaviour suggest that many student participants feel justified — by virtue of being students and free at last to explore and experience the edges of their adult life — to push the boundaries of risk.
... Whereas research in English-speaking countries has documented that removing body hair for women not only is normative but required in order to be viewed positively by both women and men (Basow, 1991;Basow & Braman, 1998;Terry & Braun, 2013;Tiggemann & Hodgson, 2008;Tiggemann & Lewis, 2004;Toerien, Wilkinson, & Choi, 2005), very little research has examined how people react to body hair on men or what people consider the ideal amount of men's body hair. The few studies that have examined the amount and distribution of men's body hair that women find to be most sexually attractive have yielded inconsistent results. ...
Article
Young men in Western cultures frequently engage in body depilation practices, but little is known regarding how such bodies are perceived. This exploratory study asked United States college students (N = 238) to view six pictures of the same male body with different amounts of visible body hair and to indicate which body was most sexually attractive to themselves, to most men, and to most women. Both men and women chose a relatively hairless male body as the most sexually attractive. Women, however, thought men would choose a hairier body than men actually did. Most of the men reduced or removed body hair, especially from the pubic area. Questionnaire responses indicated that men and women had similar attitudes toward men's body hair, with both hair reduction and hair retention being socially acceptable. Men's body depilation, while still optional, may be becoming normative, at least among United States college students.
Article
Thus, when Margaretta Jolly ... says ... 'I'm not talking about being happy, I'm talking about being changed. Thinking differently' she is implicitly describing a new language of analysis that will allow people to think in different ways ... thinking differently remains an ongoing experiment.
Article
The removal of body hair on the legs, arms and pubic area is commonplace in today's society and being hair-free is associated with beauty and femininity. Not only do adult women feel pressure from their peers and partners to achieve the hairless ideal, but also girls as young as 11 years old are presenting to health professionals with no pubic hair. Heidi Williamson looks hair removal practices in the Western world
Article
Brands are increasingly sponsoring online communications that do not identify their commercial source as a way to break through advertising clutter and to circumvent consumer cynicism toward traditional advertising. The results of lab studies indicate that these covert actions decrease trust in and commitment to brand users and that this effect is strongest when the brand user's emotional connection to the brand is threatened. Thus, use of covert marketing campaigns to overcome challenges with advertising may be done at the expense of the strongest consumer–brand relationships. Given the potential for loss of trust in and commitment to a brand in an environment in which brand relationships hold high value, brand marketers may have an incentive to discontinue covert marketing efforts without policy intervention. Alternatively, marketers could go to greater lengths to cover their tracks, which could have important implications for policy and consumer welfare.
Article
While much research has addressed negativity surrounding women’s menstruation, surprisingly little research has interrogated the relationship between menstruation and sexuality. This study used inductive thematic analysis of qualitative interviews with 40 women across a range of age, race and sexual orientation backgrounds to examine women’s experiences with sex during menstruation. Results showed that, while 25 women described negative reactions — and two described neutral reactions — 13 women described positive reactions to menstrual sex. Negative responses cohered around four themes: women’s discomfort and physical labor to clean ‘messes’, overt partner discomfort, negative self-perception and emotional labor to manage partner’s disgust. Positive responses cohered around two themes: physical and emotional pleasure from sex while menstruating, and rebellion against anti-menstrual attitudes. Notable race and sexual identity differences appeared, as white women and bisexual or lesbian-identified women described positive feelings about menstrual sex more than women of color or heterosexual women. Bisexual women with male partners described more positive reactions to menstrual sex than did heterosexual women with male partners, implying that heterosexual identity related to negative menstrual sex attitudes more than heterosexual behavior. Those with positive menstrual sex attitudes also enjoyed masturbation more than others. Implications for sexual identity and racial identity informing body practices, partner choice affecting women’s body affirmation, and women’s resistance against common cultural ideas about women’s bodies as ‘disgusting’ were addressed.
Article
While some literature has explored women’s feelings about social identities like fatness, race, disability, queerness, and aging, little research has examined, from an intersectional perspective, how women construct a dreaded or viscerally disgusting body and how this produces “appropriate” femininity. This paper utilized thematic analysis of qualitative data from a community sample of 20 US women (mean age = 34, SD = 13.35) to illuminate how women imagined a body they dreaded. Responses indicated that defective femininity, having “freak” body parts, fear of excessiveness, loathing a particular person’s body, and language of smelliness and disgust all appeared, weaving together women’s fears about fatness, dark skin, and becoming old or disabled. Implications incorporating visceral disgust to examinations of body image, and the intersectional foundations of women’s dreaded selves, were discussed. Further, imagining “Other” bodies may produce especially vivid narratives around social biases and internalized oppression.
Article
Full-text available
In the past two decades body hair has fast become a taboo for women. The empirical data of sociological and medical research reveal that the vast majority of women remove most of their body hair since the beginning of this century. Body hair is typically a marker that polices significant boundaries: between human–animal, male–female and adult–child. Removal or refusal to remove body hair places the female body on either side of the boundary, thus upholding and displacing binary oppositions between fundamental categories. The new beauty ideal requires techniques of control, manipulation and self-improvement. This article first assesses how empirical studies map and confirm existing trends of body hair removal, and then explores indepth the cultural reasons for the development of the normative ideal of a hairless female body. While body hair functions socially as a taboo, it refers psychologically to the realm of the abject. One line of argument places the taboo in the realm of abjection, while another argument attempts to demystify the Freudian anxieties surrounding the visibility and invisibility of the female sex organ. While the hairless body connotes perfected femininity, it simultaneously betrays a fear of adult female sexuality. The hairless body may be picture-perfect, but its emphasis on visual beauty runs the risk of disavowing the carnality of lived life. The hair-free trend of today’s beauty ideals affirms that the twenty-first-century body is a work in progress.
Article
The way we modify and view hair culturally has important resonances, not only for the construction of gender and sexuality, but also for the way people are seen (or not) on a day-to-day basis. Hair is far from being a trivial area of study, but ideas of triviality are used to mask and manipulate the political and contentious nature of the subject. One important aspect of the study of cultural ideas about hair is how it relates to cultural ideas about skin. This article uses a queer, hair-inspired, methodology to read part of Steven Connor's The Book of Skin and to contrast it to an article about skin by Gail Vines that appeared in the New Scientist. In doing so, this article examines the idea that hair and skin are sometimes treated as culturally and biologically synonymous, while at the same time, paradoxically, hair is treated as other, different, abject, outside the body. Other thinkers suggest that hair could be clothing or a thread we use to cover ourselves, synonymous with cloth rather than skin itself. Using some of the most recent writing on hair, as well as playing with texts by Butler, Kristeva, Mary, Douglas, and Derrida, this article applies thinking about hair to the idea that the self is somehow contained by the skin. It concludes that our cultural notions of hair have to do with the anxious patrolling of the borders of the body.
Article
This qualitative, longitudinal study directs attention to how adolescence - a time period that is already fraught with pressures and struggles for most - may be complicated by the presence of hirsutism, a putatively "sexdiscordant" marker. Attention is directed to the school-based experiences of a non-representative sample of 67 Canadian youth and 41 adult women who shared their recollections of how hirsutism had impacted their lives as adolescents. Although hirsute youth may seem well-situated to act as the trailblazers for the type of subversive crossings that Butler (1990) championed in Gender Trouble, our study find little to suggest that they would welcome this role. Rather, the obverse seems true. However, given the dependent status of adolescents in Western society, it might be entirely presumptuous to expect hirsute youth to behave as if dualistic thinking about sex, gender and sexuality did not exist when so many of their experiences will continuously remind them that it does.
Article
Although some research has examined men and women's general attitudes toward women growing body hair, little research has engaged in a side-by-side examination of women's imagined experiences of growing body hair with an experiential component of growing their own body hair. In the first of two studies, I asked a diverse community sample of women aged 18 to 59 to assess their impressions of women who grew body hair and to imagine their own, and others', reactions to their hypothetical body hair growth. For the second study, I utilized response papers from 62 women from diverse backgrounds in an undergraduate women's studies course, who grew their body hair for an assignment. Results showed overwhelming negativity toward women growing body hair in both studies, but they differed in perceptions of social control and individual agency. Women in Study 1, who merely imagined body hair growth, described it more nonchalantly and individualistically, citing personal choice and rarely acknowledging social pressures placed upon women even disgusted by other women's body hair. Women in Study 2 regularly discussed unanticipated social pressures and norms, rarely discussed personal choice, and reported a constellation of difficulties, including homophobia, family and partner anger, and internalized disgust and "dirtiness." These results on a seemingly "trivial" subject nuance the "rhetoric of choice" debate within feminist theories of the body while also illustrating a vivid experiential assignment that delves into women's personal values, relationships, and social norms. Implications for assessing and changing attitudes about women's bodies-particularly "abject" or "othered" bodies-are discussed.
Chapter
This chapter discusses aspects of my doctoral work, which critically explored the ‘silences’ or taken-for-granted assumptions embedded within pelvic teaching utilizing Gynaechological Teaching Associates (GTA). Throughout this chapter, I draw upon my own storied reflections (alongside the voices of my participants) of working as a GTA to give a distinctive, often-unarticulated voice to the practice/performance of a GTA – a voice that questions the (re)positioning of women through a language that speaks us into being, drawing attention to how we come to be known in particular ways as a consequence. I raise up to question – What does it mean to be/become a practice(d) body in pelvic teaching from the perspective of GTAs? Furthermore, what are the possible consequences for (the practice of) GTAs whose bodies operate as sites where medical students’ practice is practiced upon, and from where practice(d) knowledge is (re)generated through (not) ‘talking’ the body? Such questioning, informed by the work of Butler, Foucault, and (post-)critical feminist theories, invites us to consider how notions of professional(ization), as taken up within medical education, exist and participate in the creation of other bodies – caught-up in a normative feedback loop where ‘one’s’ practices (re)create the very body one sets out to find. The chapter discusses how medical students working with/on me and other GTAs, as both model and ‘teacher/text’, endeavoured to accomplish the goal of ‘being’ a professional in that space, which often meant operating from a place of (supposed) disembodiment while simultaneously engaging intimately with my/our bodies.
Chapter
This chapter examines hirsutism and the idea that reading a woman as hairy is a form of social control, and as such, is a disabling force. First of all, I describe some of the ways in which hair has been read and written about in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Then I look at some recent work linking Crip and Queer Theory, highlighting the idea of the policing ‘stare’, which Inckle argues ‘constitutes disabled experience’, and radical embodiment in particular.1 I chose most of these texts because they critique Sally Munt’s appropriation of the disabled toilet facility as a queer space2 and because they talk of a ‘politics of hope’3 describing the possibility for ‘queercrip alliances’:4 an embodied challenge to normative assumptions in the spaces of everyday life. I go on to describe the production of hirsutism in two typical medical texts and argue that there is no fixed definition of normative female hair distribution. I relate this to the idea of looking queer, which is also the title of one of the texts I examine, and the problematic normative assumptions that are used to police women’s bodies, particularly when facial hair is in evidence. In one of the examples I look at I find a reluctant lesbian hero, in the other a ‘heroic’ gender deviant who has found a way of at least partially defying the controlling ‘stare’. I finish by examining the ‘bathroom problem’ and the ways in which the texts I have chosen critique Munt’s work, the narrator of which is a self-proclaimed lesbian hero.
Preprint
The role of disgust in moral psychology has been a matter of much controversy and experimentation over the past 20 or so years. We present here an integrative look at the literature, with a focus on experimental work in our lab that has shown differences between elicitors of disgust and anger in moral contexts, with disgust responding more to bodily-moral violations such as incest, and anger responding more to socio-moral violations such as theft. At the same time, new evidence suggests explanations for the sometimes-observed phenomenon of socio-moral disgust: it can react to perceptions of bad character in a person, or it might be a mere expressive strategy to impress others with your own good character. We review other literatures for moral relevance, such as the effects of incidental disgust, existential disgust, and individual differences in disgust. Evidence is currently scarce to clarify whether all forms of moral disgust are the same phenomenon as non-moral disgust, or whether perhaps it is an expressive mask layered on some other emotion. However, it is apparent that bodily-moral disgust has more in common with basic forms of disgust, than do other disgust reactions to moral wrongs. Within the scope of the literature, there is evidence that all four functions of Giner-Sorolla’s (2012) integrative functional theory of emotion (IFT) may be operating, and that their conflicts can help explain some of the paradoxes of disgust.
Article
Full-text available
Over the past 15 years, waxing (hair removal) studios have emerged in central Berlin and grown rapidly in number. Specializing in the “Brazilian method,” this beauty salon sector has increasingly been occupied by Brazilian migrants. In addition to being a simple hair removal service, I argue that the intimate work carried out in these salons encompasses an educational and even civilizing effort from the point of view of Brazilian depiladoras: The intimacy of their work allows for affective encounters in which Brazilian women are not seen merely as service providers. They embody the specialist in a form of beauty and femininity that is desired by German clients. Appropriating these rare moments of intimacy, Brazilian depiladoras act as educators not only for a more hygienic and more feminine corporeality but also for a more humanized sociality with the “other.” Based on long-term ethnographic research in Berlin, I discuss both the agency of beauty work and its limits within the coloniality of feminized and ethnicized labor.
Book
Este libro habla de la persistente tensión entre la imposición y la resistencia, entre las condiciones aplastantes y las subjetividades creativas, entre las adopciones y las adaptaciones en uno de los escenarios chiapanecos de mayor diversidad cultural: San Cristóbal de Las Casas.
Article
Genital fashioning practices, such as Brazilian waxing and female genital cosmetic surgery, have become increasingly prevalent within contemporary western societies. This paper explores the role of genital fashioning in the construction of contemporary femininity. It uses in-depth interviews and focus groups with Australian women aged 18–30 to investigate female genitalia as a site of alteration. Drawing on broader understandings of the body as socially mediated, this paper contends that multiple modification practices are employed to produce genital appearance. It departs from previous investigations which consider genital fashioning practices in isolation. In identifying the scope of genital fashioning, this research reveals a continuum of genital fashioning practices, both physically and discursively mobilised by women to negotiate their identity, sexuality, and femininity.
Article
Full-text available
Vaginal cleansing products such as douches, sprays, wipes, powders, washes, and deodorants are part of a growing $2 billion industry in North America. Part of the appeal of these products is supposedly attaining vaginal cleanliness, which is marketed in association with product use. Although these products are promoted as healthy, medical research indicates potential health risks for some of these products (e.g. yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and disruption of the vaginal microbiota). Despite these risks, many women use these products. In this paper, we draw on interviews with women who use vaginal cleansing products to examine the ways in which particular portrayals of the vagina are connected with broader societal messages about female genitalia and with motivations to use vaginal cleansing practices. These portrayals include the healthy vagina, the clean vagina, and the dirty vagina. We show that although participants in our study valued both a clean vagina and a healthy vagina, when tension occurred between these two portrayals, participants prioritized vaginal cleanliness over vaginal health. We argue that this prioritization of the idealized clean vagina is connected to societal pressures of needing to attain unrealistic standards of vaginal cleanliness.
Article
Full-text available
Body image pressures for heterosexual women are well established. However, lesbian body image is less well understood, while bisexual women have largely been overlooked with the psychological literature. Further, women's investment in 'traditional' appearance practices associated with femininity are under explored. The current study explored differences between 472 heterosexual, lesbian, and bisexual women on measures of body satisfaction, body hair practices, and cosmetics use. While there were no significant differences between body satisfaction scores, lesbian and bisexual women had more positive attitudes to body hair, and were less likely to remove hair from particular parts of their bodies, than heterosexual women. Cosmetics use was highest among heterosexual women, significantly lower among bisexual women, and lowest among lesbians. We argue that these results highlight the importance of exploring the distinctiveness of bisexual, lesbian and heterosexual women's appearance concerns and appearance practices.
Article
Do women with body hair continue to evoke disgust? Are men without body hair read only as athletes and/or gay? To explore contemporary sense-making practices around apparently counter-normative gendered body hair practice, we developed a two-stem story completion task. We collected stories from 161 undergraduate students (129 women and 32 men) about David, who had decided to start removing body hair, and Jane, who had decided to stop removing body hair. We analysed the data thematically within a constructionist framework, resulting in three themes: secrecy and shame; the personal benefits of going against the grain; and the personal is political. The personal benefits theme included four distinct (gendered) subthemes: increased heterosexual attractiveness; increased sporting prowess; removal of a hassle; and liberation from conformity. These story data gave access to familiar but also somewhat different accounts than those collected through typical self-report measures.
Chapter
When I teach a course called “Gender, Bodies, and Health,” designed to explore topics that include everything from pregnancy and domestic violence to orgasm and food politics, nothing provokes more disgust, hostility, and discomfort than the week on menstruation. Male students have left the class on the first day when I merely mention that we will study menstruation in the second week; women often gaze uncomfort- ably down at the syllabus and have later characterized menstruation as a topic they do not discuss. Certainly, the panics that surround men- struation have long rendered the menstruating body shameful, taboo, silent, and even pathological. From the historic separation of women’s menstruating bodies into “menstrual huts” (Guterman, Mehta, and Gibbs 2008) to the pervasive insistence upon the (pre)menstruating body as disordered (for example, PMDD, accusations of women “on the rag” when they express anger, etc.), women have had to confront their internalized body shame and cultural expectations for the absence of menstruation for some time.
Article
This study explores the gendered body hair removal norm and the meanings of male body hair by examining young people’s sense-making around male body hair removal. The novel technique of story completion was used to collect data from 102 psychology undergraduates. They were presented with a story “stem” featuring a young man (David) deciding to start body hair removal and asked to complete the stem. David was most often portrayed as a young heterosexual man who was excessively hairy, in the “wrong” places, was often subject to teasing and bullying, and was concerned about his diminished sexual capital. Hair removal did not always end “happily ever after” for David. While in some stories he “got the girl,” he was punished for his vanity and foolishness in others. These different endings arguably reflect currently ambivalent meanings around male body hair depilation. The production of a hairless, or less hairy, male body is both desirable and a potential threat to masculinity. The data spoke strongly to the power of social norms surrounding body hair practices and suggest that story completion provides a useful tool in interrogating the discourses that sustain these norms.
Chapter
While research has measured people’s own attitudes about their bodies and perceptions of beauty, little research has examined women’s feelings about an imagined dreaded or ugly body. Building on an earlier study of women’s imagined “dreaded bodies,” this study utilizes thematic analysis of qualitative data from a community sample of 20 American women to show the ways women imagine ugliness and abjection via the “body they would least want to occupy.” Responses indicate that women funnel ideas about ugliness towards fatness, disability, women of color, and trans bodies most prominently, but also see some “dominant” bodies like thin bodies, men’s bodies, and celebrity bodies as disgusting as well. Implications for including discussions of imagined ugliness—particularly around “failed” femininities—into examinations of body image, and the particular hatred women have for fatness and disability, are discussed. Further, the chapter argues for the importance of imagining ugliness as a gauge for understanding social biases and internalized oppression, particularly around gender roles and gender norms.
Research
Full-text available
Body image pressures for heterosexual women are well established. However, lesbian body image is less well understood, while bisexual women have largely been overlooked within the psychological literature. Further, women's investment in 'traditional' appearance practices associated with femininity are underexplored. The current study explored differences between 472 heterosexual, lesbian, and bisexual women on measures of body satisfaction, body hair practices, and cosmetics use. While there were no significant differences between body satisfaction scores, lesbian and bisexual women had more positive attitudes to body hair, and were less likely to remove hair from particular parts of their bodies, than heterosexual women. Cosmetics use was highest among heterosexual women, significantly lower among bisexual women, and lowest among lesbians. We argue that these results highlight the importance of exploring the distinctiveness of bisexual, lesbian and heterosexual women's appearance concerns and appearance practices.
Chapter
Sara Ahmed said, ‘Emotions should not be regarded as psychological states, but as social and cultural practices’ (2004, 9). Critical feminist scholarship on embodiment and women’s lived experiences of their bodies has resituated and reframed the way that social scientists understand the discipline, control, and regulation of bodies (Foucault 1995). As a malleable site of cultural anxieties (Bordo 2003), personal distress and self-objectification (Johnston-Robledo et al. 2007), pleasure and satisfaction (Fahs 2011b), cultural rebellion (Bobel and Kwan 2011), frank oppression (Owen 2012), or affiliation to various social identities (Hill Collins 2000), the body and its role as a social entity cannot be overstated. More specifically, psychologists, body image researchers, and critical feminist scholars have argued that women mould and shape their bodies to emulate ‘ideals’ of youth, heterosexuality, ability, whiteness, and thinness (Bordo 2003; Ringrose and Walkerdine 2008; Tiggemann and Lewis 2004).
Article
Pubic hair removal, now common among women in Anglo/western cultures, has been theorised as a disciplinary practice. As many other feminine bodily practices, it is characterised by removal or alteration of aspects of women's material body (i.e., pubic hair) considered unattractive but otherwise “natural.” Emerging against this theorisation is a discourse of personal agency and choice, wherein women assert autonomy and self-mastery of their own bodies and body practices. In this paper, we use a thematic analysis to examine the interview talk about pubic hair from 11 sexually and ethnically diverse young women in New Zealand. One overarching theme – pubic hair is undesirable; its removal is desirable – encapsulates four themes we discuss in depth, which illustrate the personal, interpersonal and sociocultural influences intersecting the practice: (a) pubic hair removal is a personal choice; (b) media promote pubic hair removal; (c) friends and family influence pubic hair removal; and (d) the (imagined) intimate influences pubic hair removal. Despite minor variations among queer women, a perceived norm of genital hairlessness was compelling among the participants. Despite the articulated freedom to practise pubic hair removal, any freedom from participating in this practice appeared limited, rendering the suggestion that it is just a “choice” problematic.
Article
Courses in women’s studies and gender studies within US contexts have long prioritized content that critically examines the social construction of bodies and sexualities, consciousness-raising about how social identities interface with disciplinary and institutional practices, and the notion that ‘the personal is political.’ This article examines the social and pedagogical implications of an extra-credit assignment where I asked women to grow out their body hair and men to remove their body hair for 10 weeks in several upper-division women’s studies courses. Students’ response papers and weekly logs from 87 students over four semesters highlighted the social policing of gender and sexual identity, pervasive disgust and misinformation about body hair, raced and classed dimensions of students’ experiences, configurations of masculinity as agentic and powerful, and postexperiential reflections on challenging social norms. This assignment showed how temporary excursions into rebelling against body norms can generate sociopolitical awareness, particularly for living as Other (e.g. queerness, fatness, disability). I also consider implications for ‘ripple effect pedagogy’ and ‘peer generated pedagogy,’ along with pedagogical reflections about using the assignment as a consciousness-raising tool in feminist classrooms.
Article
Full-text available
From the perspective of terror management theory, the human body is problematic because it serves as a perpetual reminder of the inevitability of death. Human beings confront this problem through the development of cultural worldviews that imbue reality-and the body as part of that reality-with abstract symbolic meaning. This fanciful flight from death is in turn the psychological impetus for distancing from other animals and the need to regulate behaviors that remind us of our physical nature. This analysis is applied to questions concerning why people are embarrassed and disgusted by their bodies' functions; why sex is such a common source of problems, difficulties, regulations, and ritualizations; why sex tends to be associated with romantic love; and why cultures value physical attractiveness and objectify women. This article then briefly considers implications of this analysis for understanding psychological problems related to the physical body and cultural variations in the need to separate oneself from the natural world.
Article
Full-text available
Although it seems likely that family experience should be a major factor in the acquisition of food preferences and attitudes to foods, prior research has not justified assignment of a significant portion of variance to family influences. The present study compared young adults with their parents and explored attitudes to food, especially sensitivity to cleanliness and contamination of foods, as well as food preferences. Questionnaires were answered by 17 Christian and 17 Jewish university students, their parents, and 41 11–36 yr old siblings. Results indicate small positive parent–child correlations for food preferences and considerably larger correlations in the area of disgust or contamination sensitivity. Children's preferences and attitudes were about equally related to those of their mother and father. Some small ethnic-group effects were found in contamination sensitivity; these were minor in comparison to the family effects. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Full-text available
The present research investigated the need to distinguish humans from animals and tested the hypothesis derived from terror management theory that this need stems in part from existential mortality concerns. Specifically, the authors suggest that being an animal is threatening because it reminds people of their vulnerability to death; therefore, reminding people of their mortality was hypothesized to increase the need to distance from animals. In support, Study 1 revealed that reminders of death led to an increased emotional reaction of disgust to body products and animals. Study 2 showed that compared to a control condition, mortality salience led to greater preference for an essay describing people as distinct from animals; and within the mortality salient condition but not the control condition, the essay emphasizing differences from other animals was preferred to the essay emphasizing similarities. The implications of these results for understanding why humans are so invested in beautifying their bodies and denying creaturely aspects of themselves are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Full-text available
Approaches disgust as a food-related emotion and defines it as revulsion at the prospect of oral incorporation of offensive objects. These objects have contamination properties; if they contact an otherwise acceptable food, they tend to render it inedible. Issues considered include: the nature of the objects of disgust and why they are virtually all of animal origin, the meaning of oral incorporation, the belief that people take on the properties of the foods they eat, the nature of the contamination response and its relation to the laws of sympathetic magic (similarity and contagion), and the ontogeny of disgust, which is believed to develop during the 1st 8 yrs of life. The idea that feces, the universal disgust object, is also the 1st is explored, and the mechanisms for the acquisition of disgust are examined. Disgust is recommended as an easily studiable emotion, a model for cognitive–affective linkages, and a model for the acquisition of values and culture. (103 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Full-text available
The present research investigated the role of the physical body as a source of self-esteem and tested the hypothesis derived from terror management theory that reminding people of their mortality increases self-esteem striving in the form of identification with one's body, interest in sex, and appearance monitoring. The results revealed that individuals high in body esteem responded to mortality salience manipulations with increased identification with their physical bodies in Study 1 and with increased interest in sex in Study 2. Study 3 showed that reminders of death led to decreased appearance monitoring among appearance-oriented participants who were low in body esteem. These findings provide insight into why people often go to extreme lengths to meet cultural standards for the body and its appearance.
Article
Doth not nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her. So wrote St. Paul to the people of Corinth (1 Cor. 11: 14- 15); the shame of one sex is the glory of the opposite sex. Indeed the debate over hair symbolism is both ancient and complex, and applies not only to gender but also to politics, as Hippies, Skins and Punks, among others, have recently demonstrated. Hair is perhaps our most powerful symbol of individual and group identity powerful first because it is physical and therefore extremely personal, and second because, although personal, it is also public rather than private. Furthermore, hair symbolism is usually voluntary rather than imposed or 'given'. Finally, hair is malleable, in various ways, and therefore singularly apt to symbolize both differentiations between, and changes in, individual and group identities. The immense social significance of hair is indicated by economics: the hair industry is worth $2.5 billion in the USA (New York Times, 7.1.85).
Article
A major component of “femininity” in the United States today is a hairless body, a norm that developed in the United States between 1915–1945. Little has been written regarding the development of this norm, and virtually no empirical research has been done to assess how universally ascribed to is this standard or why women actually remove their leg and underarm hair. More than 200 women from two national professional organizations responded to a mailed questionnaire (response rate 56%). The majority (around 80%) remove their leg and/or underarm hair at least occasionally. Two types of reasons for shaving emerged: feminine/attractiveness reasons and social/normative reasons. Most women start shaving for the latter reasons but continue to shave for the former reasons. Certain groups, however, were least likely to remove leg and/or underarm hair: strongly feminist women and self-identified lesbians. The results of the study are discussed in terms of the function the hairlessness norm may serve in our culture.
Article
This study examines college students' attitudes toward and perceptions of a woman with body hair as a function of respondent gender and feminist attitudes. Participants reacted to a video of a White woman either with or without visible leg and underarm hair. Results supported the hypothesis that a woman with body hair will be seen as less sexually and interpersonally attractive than the same woman without body hair. Specifically, the woman with body hair was viewed as less sociable, intelligent, happy, and positive, and as more aggressive, active, and strong. Attitudes toward feminism predicted attitudes about body hair in general, which in turn predicted reactions to the model with body hair. Despite the fact that women students had more positive attitudes about body hair and more feminist attitudes than their male counterparts, there were no gender differences in reactions to the model with body hair. Implications regarding this pervasive cultural norm are discussed.
Article
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.
Article
Body image issues are at the core of major eating disorders. They are also important phenomena in and of themselves. Kevin Thompson and his colleagues provide an overview of a wide variety of body image issues, ranging from reconstructive surgery to eating disorders. The book will be a valuable resource for even the most established researchers in the field, as it is filled with data, information about assessment tools, and a thorough treatment of virtually all major theoretical perspectives on the development of body image and their implications for treatment and prevention. At the same time, the authors' decision to include numerous experiential anecdotes makes the book easily accessible to those just entering the field who are trying to understand the nature of these phenomena. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Examines the hypothesis of E. E. Jones and R. E. Nisbett (1971) that individuals generally attribute the actions of others to stable trait dispositions but see their own behavior as relatively more influenced by specific environmental circumstances. A literature review reveals a strong main effect of attribution type: Both self- and other-raters consistently ascribe more causal importance to traits than to situations. The interaction effect predicted by Jones and Nisbett was found in many studies using various attribution measures. Further evidence suggests that this interaction is largely due to the differential tendency of self- and other-raters to attribute causality to the environment rather than a differential preference for trait attributions. (41 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
We describe the development of a reliable measure of individual differences in disgust sensitivity. The 32-item Disgust Scale includes 2 true-false and 2 disgust-rating items for each of 7 domains of disgust elicitors (food, animals, body products, sex, body envelope violations, death, and hygiene) and for a domain of magical thinking (via similarity and contagion) that cuts across the 7 domains of elicitors. Correlations with other scales provide initial evidence of convergent and discriminant validity: the Disgust Scale correlates moderately with Sensation Seeking (r= - 0.46) and with Fear of Death (r= 0.39), correlates weakly with Neuroticism (r = 0.23) and Psychoticism (r= - 0.25), and correlates negligibly with Self-Monitoring and the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire Extraversion and Lie scales. Females score higher than males on the Disgust Scale. We suggest that the 7 domains of disgust elicitors all have in common that they remind us of our animality and, especially, of our mortality. Thus we see disgust as a defensive emotion that maintains and emphasizes the line between human and animal.