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06th Aug 2021

Let’s get rid of the stigma around body hair – it’s just hair

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Come on, it’s 2021.

The conversation around body hair is always a controversial one, but it shouldn’t be this way.

There is a massive stigma when it comes to female body hair, with people claiming that hair growth in certain places is “disgusting” and “unhygienic”.

Some have even gone as far as saying it is “unnatural”, which of course, makes perfect sense.

Body hair exists for two purposes, to keep you warm and to keep sweat out of places it doesn’t need to be.

Eyebrows catch sweat, eyelashes and nose hair keep dust out, these are all things the majority of people can wrap their heads around.

So why is it when it comes to other female body hair, we are told it needs to be gone, stripped from our bodies?

Nina Jablonski, an Evan Pugh University professor of anthropology at Pennsylvania State University spoke to Allure, summing it up perfectly, explaining why it grows in the first place.

She said: “[Body hair] keeps mammals warm. It protects their skin from a lot of external influences, from abrasion, from water, from chemical attack, all sorts of things.”

The hair on your head regulates your brain’s temperature, underarm and pubic hair helps disperse odour molecules and are used as communicators, showing our expressions. Every single strand on your body serves a purpose.

So why do we all feel so much pressure to get rid of it, if there’s a reason it’s there?

“We have, through communication with one another, established a globalized practice of removing hair to make women especially look very smooth and have baby-like skin; and for men to retain their body hair,” says Jablonski.

“We tend to think, ‘Oh, these signals are very ancient. These practices are very ancient.’ They’re not. This is a pretty recent obsession.”

She added that shaving, waxing and hair removal of any sort, while it’s been around for 500 years, it’s become a societal norm, and once you realise that it’s “a waste of time”, you begin to “feel a lot of freedom.”

This doesn’t go to say that you need to stop shaving altogether, a lot of us feel better about ourselves when we do, and that’s perfectly fine too, we do it for ourselves and nobody else.

And if you choose to keep your hair in its natural form, that’s perfectly fine too, that’s the way it was intended in the first place.

The conversation around body hair shouldn’t be about what we should or shouldn’t do, it should be around how we feel most comfortable and how we feel about ourselves, regardless of the hair that’s on or off our body.