Article

Pubic Hair Removal Practices in Cross-Cultural Perspective

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Abstract

The literature on pubic hair removal (PHR) practices primarily focuses on women in Western societies and attributes recent increases in PHR to product marketing, pornography, and pop culture. Here, we explore PHR and retention practices outside the cultural West through content coding of societies in the Human Relations Area Files’ database, eHRAF World Cultures. Thirty-one societies noted distinct PHR or retention practices. Descriptive data on 72 societies provided additional context to the perception of pubic hair and reasons for its removal or retention. Results indicate that women practice PHR more commonly than men cross-culturally and practices are often tied to concerns about hygiene and sexual activity. Findings show that some features of PHR cross-culturally resemble those of the cultural West in which these practices have been best characterized, though these practices cannot be attributed to the same suite of factors such as exposure to pornography or product marketing. We interpret these findings within cross-cultural and evolutionary perspectives.

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... Pubic hair removal as a form of bodily modification originated in a specific cultural moment in history but has now become so commonplace that its relation to hygiene, even though not supported by any medical evidence, seems to have common sense appeal. In fact, medical evidence suggests the contrary: pubic hair serves its own hygienic purpose by trapping bacteria and other pathogens and preventing them from entering the vaginal opening (Hoffman, 2016;Craig and Gray, 2019). Hygiene, when pertaining to the vagina, often refers to subjective feelings of cleanliness rather than objective indicators of women's health. ...
... Women in non-Western cultures draw upon discourses other than postfeminism with similar modalities and results. In a systematic, cross-cultural analysis of academic literature on pubic hair removal practices in non-Western cultures, it was found that women cited hygiene as the primary motivator, corresponding with findings in Western cultures (Craig and Gray, 2019). In an ethnographic study of Muslim women in lower-income neighborhoods of Cairo, the researchers found that women remove pubic hair using a homemade paste of lime, sugar and water and consider it essential to the production of married femininity and cleanliness (Malmström, 2015). ...
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Postfeminism is a neoliberal sensibility that locates femininity in the body, thereby imploring women to constantly labor on, monitor and discipline their bodies. This aesthetic labor is presented to women as freely chosen and empowering. Brazilian waxing is exemplary aesthetic labor directed at the self. Academic literature on aesthetic labor in general, and Brazilian waxing in particular, looks at white and middle-class women, as this category of women is considered the putative subject of postfeminism. Little attention is paid to racialized women from the global south who perform aesthetic labor on other women’s bodies in the global north. In this paper, I draw on my ethnographic study of two beauty salons in London run by South Asian women to argue that these South Asian beauticians are postfeminist subjects as well. The aim of challenging the putative subject of postfeminism, using the example of Brazilian waxing, is not merely to include South Asian women in the discourse, but to advance a transnational theorization of postfeminism. Such theorization, I demonstrate, leads to a better understanding of how postfeminism is implicated in global structures of power as well as the affective qualities of postfeminism including intimacy and disgust.
... Depilation has been practiced since ancient times, and several studies show that the removal of body hair is commonly practiced by women and men across contemporary society (Butler et al., 2015;Craig & Gray, 2019;Dixson et al., 2019;Herbenick et al., 2010;Ramsey et al., 2009). More than 90% of women living in Western cultures (e.g., New Zealand, the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Australia) indicate that they tend to remove hair from their legs and underarms, and between 65 and 85% report trimming or removing hair from their pubic area (Butler et al., 2015;DeMaria & Berenson, 2013;Herbenick et al., 2010Herbenick et al., , 2013Osterberg et al., 2017;Terry & Braun, 2013;Tiggemann & Hodgson, 2008;Toerien & Wilkinson, 2004;Stone, Graham, & Baysal, 2017). ...
... Men practice depilation through shaving and plucking in many preindustrial subsistence societies (Craig & Gray, 2019), and body hair removal among men appears to be growing in popularity throughout Western cultures Terry & Braun, 2013. Boroughs, Cafri, and Thompson (2005) found that 63.6% of American young adult men reportedly engaged in depilation, 56% of which removed hair from their chest and 46.7% from their abdomen. ...
Article
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Researchers have highlighted numerous sociocultural factors that have been shown to underpin human appearance enhancement practices, including the influence of peers, family, the media, and sexual objectification. Fewer scholars have approached appearance enhancement from an evolutionary perspective or considered how sociocultural factors interact with evolved psychology to produce appearance enhancement behavior. Following others, we argue that evidence from the field of evolutionary psychology can complement existing sociocultural models by yielding unique insight into the historical and cross-cultural ubiquity of competition over aspects of physical appearance to embody what is desired by potential mates. An evolutionary lens can help to make sense of reliable sex and individual differences that impact appearance enhancement, as well as the context-dependent nature of putative adaptations that function to increase physical attractiveness. In the current review, appearance enhancement is described as a self-promotion strategy used to enhance reproductive success by rendering oneself more attractive than rivals to mates, thereby increasing one’s mate value. The varied ways in which humans enhance their appearance are described, as well as the divergent tactics used by women and men to augment their appearance, which correspond to the preferences of opposite-sex mates in a heterosexual context. Evolutionarily relevant individual differences and contextual factors that vary predictably with appearance enhancement behavior are also discussed. The complementarity of sociocultural and evolutionary perspectives is emphasized and recommended avenues for future interdisciplinary research are provided for scholars interested in studying appearance enhancement behavior.
... The practice of hair removal from different body parts and areas is common across cultures [1,2]. The practice of removing pubic hair is quite evident from artistic depictions, paintings, and religious text recommending removal of pubic hairs [1]. ...
... A study by Craig et al. [2] reviewed PHR data from the Human Relations Area Files' database, Electronic Human Relations Area Files database World Cultures. The results from the study indicate personal hygiene as the most common reason cited for PHR, similar to our findings. ...
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Abstract Background and Objectives - The PHR practices are common around the world, for long the internet has been source of information, which is usually avialble from blogs, forums, social media. A lot of misinformation, misguidance is resulted because of lack of scientifically published literature providing proper information on the PHR practices. We undertook systematic review of existing population based studies to understand the prevalence, attitude, practices of PHR in published literature. Methods - We searched for population based studies across the globe for prevalence, attitude and practice of PHR in study participants on electronic databases (PubMed, Google Scholar, J-Gate, Medline). A total of 307 titles were identified on which 9 were considered eligible for the study. Descriptive analysis was carried on the 9 identified study to know the prevalence, attitude and practices of PHR. Results – The prevalence of PHR at least once was 75%, Friends(73%) were the prime motivators to initiate the first PHR activity. Personal Hygiene(69%) was cited as the most common driver for regular PHR activity. Shaving using Razor blade(58%) was the most common mode of PHR and Abrasion(34%) was the most common complication. Conclusions – Pubic Hair Removal is a common practice among both males and females, the practice is initiated and propelled mostly through personal preferences. The current need is to undertake population based studies, specifically in developing countries and present the evidence backed information on do’s and don’ts for optimum PHR experience with minimal complications. Key words: Pubic Hair removal, Attitude, Practices
... The practice of hair removal from different body parts and areas is common across cultures (1,2). The practice of removing pubic hair is quite evident from artistic depictions, paintings, religious text recommending removal of pubic hairs (1). ...
... A study by Craig et al. (2) reviewed PHR data from Human Relations Area Files' database, eHRAF World ...
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Background and Objectives-The PHR practices are common around the world, for long the internet has been source of information, which is usually avialble from blogs, forums, social media. A lot of misinformation, misguidance is resulted because of lack of scientifically published literature providing proper information on the PHR practices. We undertook systematic review of existing population based studies to understand the prevalence, attitude, practices of PHR in published literature. Methods-We searched for population based studies across the globe for prevalence, attitude and practice of PHR in study participants on electronic databases (PubMed, Google Scholar, J-Gate, Medline). A total of 307 titles were identified on which 9 were considered eligible for the study. Descriptive analysis was carried on the 9 identified study to know the prevalence, attitude and practices of PHR. Results-The prevalence of PHR at least once was 75%, Friends(73%) were the prime motivators to initiate the first PHR activity. Personal Hygiene(69%) was cited as the most common driver for regular PHR activity. Shaving using Razor blade(58%) was the most common mode of PHR and Abrasion(34%) was the most common complication. Conclusions-Pubic Hair Removal is a common practice among both males and females, the practice is initiated and propelled mostly through personal preferences. The current need is to undertake population based studies, specifically in developing countries and present the evidence backed information on do's and don'ts for optimum PHR experience with minimal complications. For your questions please send message to info@scopemed.com Title of the article: Systematic Review of Prevalence, Attitude, Practices of Pubic Hair Removal (PHR) activities. Abstract: Background and Objectives-The PHR practices are common around the world, for long the
... Finally, women's preferences for men's chest hair were strongly positively associated with their preferences for beardedness. Given the associations between beardedness and perceptions of age, masculinity, social dominance and aggressiveness (Craig and Gray 2018;Dixson and Brooks 2013;Dixson and Fig. 4 The positive association between women's preferences for men's body hair and beardedness Vasey 2012; Neave and Shields 2008), the current results provide further evidence that cues of age, masculinity and social status may be more salient in women' mate preferences under conditions of stronger male-male competition. ...
... To our knowledge, the only supporting evidence for ectoparasite avoidance for body hair comes from a study reporting a negative association between men's preferences for women's pubic hair and their self-reported pathogen disgust (Prokop 2016). Analyses of the ethnographic literature revealed that of the 26 societies for which people explicitly stated removing pubic hair, 22 societies stated that women removed pubic hair and 11 stated that men removed public hair (Craig and Gray 2018). Of these 22 societies, 12 stated the most common motivations among women and men for removing pubic hair were for personal hygiene (n = 7), to enhance attractiveness (n = 2) and social signalling (n = 3). ...
Article
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Objectives According to the ectoparasite avoidance hypothesis, natural selection has shaped human hairlessness to reduce the potential for the body to host disease carrying ectoparasites. However, men retain sexually dimorphic and conspicuous patches of facial and body hair. The ectoparasite avoidance hypothesis also proposes that sexual selection via women’s mate preferences for reduced hirsutism has further elaborated upon the reduction in body hair and could explain variation in women’s preferences for body hair in men. The current study tests this hypothesis using cross-cultural data from 30 countries on women’s preferences for chest hair.Methods We test whether heterosexual women’s (N = 3436) preferences for reduced hirsutism are most pronounced in countries with higher disease and parasite levels or whether other social and economic factors previously shown to influence preferences for facial masculinity and beardedness predict women’s preferences for chest hair.ResultsWe found that preferences were unrelated to past or current disease rates. Instead, preferences for body hair were stronger among women who were older, had strong preferences for facial hair, and were from countries that had male-biased sex ratios, higher human development indices, and lower education indices. Women’s body hair preferences were also associated with facial masculinity preferences and gender empowerment. However, neither these terms, nor human development indices or education indices were individually significant in their contributions to the family of best-fit models and we suggest caution when interpreting their significance.Conclusions Women’s preferences for body hair may be strongest among women from countries where male-male competition is higher and preferences for beardedness are stronger rather than where prevailing ecological conditions my impact on maternal and offspring survival.
... pada beberapa bagian tubuh menjadi hal yang dipertimbangkan untuk beberapa orang [1]. Pertimbangan yang sudah biasa pada kalangan masyarakat adalah menghilangkannya rambut pada bagian kaki dengan cara hair removal [2]. ...
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The majority of pubic hair and genital self-image research describes women living in the USA, UK and Australia. This may leave attitudes and behaviours across other cultures and geographic regions ambiguous. The purpose of this study was to describe pubic hair removal attitudes and behaviours among reproductive-age women living in Italy. Individual interviews were conducted with 46 women aged 18-45 years between June and July 2017, living in Florence, Italy and currently utilising the Italian healthcare system. Pubic hair removal was popular among participants. Women mainly removed pubic hair by waxing. Sexual partners influenced removal, as did cultural norms and the desire for cleanliness. Most participants indicated pubic hair removal onset during adolescence, often upon puberty. However, most participants had never discussed removal complications with providers. Pubic hair removal often related to a more positive genital self-image because of social norms surrounding hairlessness. Removal among this sample appears to differ from the literature in other contexts, with women living in Italy engaging in more frequent and earlier waxing. Findings offer opportunities for clinicians to proactively address safe pubic hair practices and women’s genital concerns during consultations.
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Kerion is a severe hypersensitivity reaction to fungal infection that is rarely seen in the groin. Frequent shaving of pubic hair and religious conservatism surrounding genital hygiene are common among Bedouin women in the Negev Desert, and may predispose to kerion. This case highlights the clinical course of a 20-year-old Bedouin woman who presented with severe kerion celsi of the pubis and vulva with secondary bacterial infection. The patient was successfully treated with intravenous antibiotics, oral antifungal medication and wet topical dressings. The case outlines the risk factors and treatment for severe kerion celsi of the groin, as well as possible preventive measures that may reduce its incidence.
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The ectoparasite avoidance hypothesis proposes that human hairlessness was favoured by sexual selection, because hairless individuals suffered from lower parasite loads. Females have seemingly less hairy bodies than men suggesting that the selection toward hairlessness is more intense in females than in males. This study examined male preference for hairy and shaved female genitalia. Pubic hair, although still functional in terms of dissipation of phermononal secretions, was perceived by heterosexual males recruited in the university (age range: 19-38 years, N = 96) as much less attractive as shaved female genitalia. Males who were more disgust sensitive and those who were sexually unrestricted showed a stronger preference for shaved genitalia than others. Self-reported frequency of pornography consumption was associated, contrary to expectations, with a stronger preference for hairy genitalia which suggests that this may be a result of negative frequency dependent selection. Older males also preferred hairy genitalia more than younger males. Overall, these results suggest that a preference for shaved genitalia may be explained by the superficial resemblance of pubic hair with chest hair, which is less developed as in our evolutionary past, perhaps due to the benefits associated with ectoparasite avoidance.
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Although womens body hair removal is strongly normative across contemporary Western cultures, only two studies of mundane depilation have been published, and they were based on data from the US (Basow, 1991) and Australia (Tiggemann & Kenyon, 1998), respectively. The present survey, comprised of a sample of 678 women, extends this work. We investigated UK practices, a wider array of body regions and removal methods, and the relationship between depilation and age. Over 99% of participants reported removing some hair, most commonly from the underarms, legs, pubic area, and eyebrows. Shaving and plucking were the most common removal methods. Significant relationships between age and leg, pubic, and facial depilation were found. Results document the normativity of hair removal, and we argue that hair removal is part of the taken-for-granted work of producing an acceptable femininity.
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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. KeywordsBody hair removal–Body image–Objectification theory
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Objective STIs are the most common infections among adults. Concurrently, pubic hair grooming is prevalent. Small-scale studies have demonstrated a relationship between pubic hair grooming and STIs. We aim to examine this relationship in a large sample of men and women. Design We conducted a probability survey of US residents aged 18–65 years. The survey ascertained self-reported pubic hair grooming practices, sexual behaviours and STI history. We defined extreme grooming as removal of all pubic hair more than 11 times per year and high-frequency grooming as daily/weekly trimming. Cutaneous STIs included herpes, human papillomavirus, syphilis and molluscum. Secretory STIs included gonorrhoea, chlamydia and HIV. We analysed lice separately. Results Of 7580 respondents who completed the survey, 74% reported grooming their pubic hair, 66% of men and 84% of women. After adjusting for age and lifetime sexual partners, ever having groomed was positively associated with a history of self-reported STIs (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.4 to 2.2), including cutaneous STIs (OR 2.6; CI 1.8 to 3.7), secretory STIs (OR 1.7; CI 1.3 to 2.2) and lice (OR 1.9; CI 1.3 to 2.9). These positive associations were stronger for extreme groomers (OR 4.4; CI 2.9 to 6.8) and high-frequency groomers (OR 3.5; CI 2.3 to 5.4) with cutaneous STIs, and for non-extreme groomers (OR 2.0; CI 1.3 to 3.0) and low-frequency groomers (OR 2.0; CI 1.3 to 3.1) with lice. Conclusions Among a representative sample of US residents, pubic hair grooming was positively related to self-reported STI history. Further research is warranted to gain insight into STI risk-reduction strategies.
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Objectives: To examine the relationship between women's pubic hair removal (PHR) and genital satisfaction and explore whether attitudes toward, and personal consumption of, pornography are associated with women's engagement in PHR. Methods: Data were collected by online survey from women (N = 152) who were then categorized into groups based on the prevalence and extent of PHR during the previous 4 weeks. Groups were compared on demographic, background, and behavioral variables. Results: Eighty-three percent of respondents reported PHR in the previous 4 weeks and 40% of respondents removed all their pubic hair. Women who were younger, White, and were more satisfied with their genitals were more likely to engage in PHR. Of these, being younger, not having a degree, reporting less positive attitudes toward erotica, and 3 reasons for PHR predicted extensive PHR over limited removal. Conclusions: Findings provide insights into the reasons for, and extent of, PHR among women and factors associated with the practice. The possible influences of partners' preferences for genital hair removal by women and partners' consumption of pornography are important areas for future research.
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In order to investigate the relatively new phenomenon of male body depilation, 118 male university students provided details regarding the reduction and removal of their body hair using a questionnaire developed from the results of structured interviews (Boroughs & Thompson, 2002). It was found that well over one-half of the sample (63.6%) was engaged in body depilation (i.e., the reduction or removal of body hair below the neck). The sites, methods, reasons, and injuries related to body depilation were assessed, as well as its effect on affective dimensions. Findings are considered in light of these ramifications and how they may contribute to a better understanding of men’s body image.
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The study aimed to explore the motivations behind and predictors of the practice of body hair removal among women. A sample of 235 Australian female undergraduate students completed questionnaires asking about the frequency and reasons for body hair removal, as well as measures of media exposure. It was confirmed that the vast majority (approximately 96%) regularly remove their leg and underarm hair, most frequently by shaving, and attribute this to femininity and attractiveness reasons. A sizeable proportion (60%) also removed at least some of their pubic hair, with 48% removing most or all of it. Here the attributions were relatively more to sexual attractiveness and self-enhancement. Further, having a partner and exposure to particular forms of media predicted pubic hair removal. It was concluded that pubic hair removal is currently different in connotation from leg or underarm hair, but is likely to be on the increase. It can only further the belief that women’s bodies are unacceptable the way they are.
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