Don’t Judge a Man by His Body Hair!

ft-beard-trimming-chartAfter recent observations in my new temporary, very equated and feminist home Sweden, I could not help but start (and never stop) detailed discussions about a widely avoided and yet very popular topic: hair. I reckon no other topic is so controversial: well-presented and omnipresent throughout the media and society, but yet so frowned upon when broken down to its hairy components.

Consider this: As long as hair is growing on the top of our heads, it’s all pretty much ok to discuss it freely ad nauseam. About a gazillion different hair products are out there, waiting to be purchased, whole businesses and lifestyles revolve around these peculiar dead, emotionless cells emerging through our skulls. Yet, be aware! The more south we follow the growth of the fur covering 99% of our bodies, the more censored the topic becomes*. Take the beard, for instance: For a very long time, faces have been beardless and smooth, ever since the good old ’80s passed with their seriously questionable moustache-fashion-trends. Apart from Movember, facial hair has not really been in style since then. Full-grown beards, moustaches or even goatbeards were recognizable accessories acting as warning signs to stay away from the bearer.

Full-grown beards, moustaches or even goatbeards were recognizable accessories acting as warning signs to stay away from the bearer.

Until recently. Nowadays, a thing formerly known as pedophile beards is proudly worn by hipsters, and made socially acceptable again. And, I have to admit, this is also probably one of the best examples for how society and habits shape our perception: While in the beginning, I understandably still found those hairy mats in guys’ faces as icky as ever, I by now have changed my attitude to secret admiration (which sometimes goes as far as me wanting to grow such a beard myself).

Why I found them icky, you ask? Well, my hygiene-driven assumption that they smell like everything that has been eaten throughout the whole day, and probably capture also physical evidence of this, cannot be reversed just by making a trend out of it. Yet, by constant exposure to these face-mats, my mind began to change. Slowly, but steadily, up to the point that I caught myself regarding those unhygienic bacteria-ships (fun facts: beards contain on average approximately the bacteria of a public toilet seat) as sexy. I find myself checking out hipster-guys with hipster-beards as if they were my only and last chance for procreation.

So, if it is a matter of habit what we find attractive or even acceptable, can this perhaps be expanded to other body parts? I do agree that the never ending chest-hair-debate will probably remain a matter of preferences – which is good, it decreases my competition! –, but let’s take armpits, for instance. Since ages, it is taught to us that ladies should keep their armpits hairless.

Is this just a matter of habit, too? Could it be considered completely normal if everyone was always running around with hairy, sweaty armpits? Here in Sweden, this seems to be the next arising trend – and as I strongly believe also the hipster-beard stems from here, it probably is just a matter of time until the armpit hair grows on surrounding countries. But why? And: Do I need to find that great? Is it a feminist thing to not shave your armpits? Can I be a feminist and rather support hairless armpits no matter the gender, instead of “hair for everyone”?

Is it a feminist thing to not shave your armpits? Can I be a feminist and rather support hairless armpits no matter the gender, instead of “hair for everyone”?

Let’s face it: Hair that is not attached to your body is kind of icky. That applies for head-hair as well as any other kind of hair lying around, plugging the drain, or suddenly sticking to your fingers when washing the dishes . . . maybe this is due to the fact that once detached, it is hard to figure out the previous owner of it. And then it becomes quite strange – touching the dead cells of someone else . . . I know, right? So the less hair you allow growing on your body, the less likely it will end up in someone’s soup, sink, or on a public toilet seat. That’s probably the main reason why I personally prefer less hairy people (well, except for the chest hair . . . ;)).

There remains one secret, still, though: The leg hair. Not only are women supposed to keep their armpits smooth and tidy, also their legs should always be prepared to participate in a competition that requires maximum aero-dynamics. Still it is not clear, however, if the legs are supposed to be hair-free up to the knee, or entirely – this has unfortunately not been communicated well enough yet.

I am excitedly awaiting the developing trend concerning the legs. The day we find hairy women-legs just as desirable as pubic-hair-like facial decoration. And, after all, at least there won’t be any food left-overs wrapped around our legs!

* before our dedicated hobby-scientists start complaining to me again through various different channels (ain’t got no time for that, eh!), let me clarify: Yes, I know there’s major differences between head-hair, secondary-sexual-characteristical hair, and the overall cover of vellus hair. However, for the sake of this column’s comedic effect, I decided to just not care so much about distinctions. And because sometimes, I can’t be bothered.

Cover picture: Wystan





About The Author

Originally from Germany, Bianca feels quite Finnish already after several years in the North of the country. Maybe it’s the Scandinavian honesty that makes her discuss even the most delicate topics in written form – the writing itself, however, has already been a huge part in her life since she could hold a pen. By now she’s freelancing for newspapers, running a blog, and in a way considering even her PhD studies as kind of an extended article.