Our personal relationship with body hair changes all the time, whether you’re a man or a woman. But what has remained pretty constant throughout the years is that generally, body hair on a woman is considered unsightly, and it is considered acceptable, even attractive on men.
The Traditional Gender Roles
Women have traditionally engaged in regularly removing body hair for hundreds of years, whether that’s eyebrows, upper lips, underarms or legs. And the method of removal is a multi-million pound industry, with women threading, shaving, waxing, tweezing, and epilating their hair.
Men, on the other hand, are mostly concerned with the hair on their heads and faces.
The New Man
However, up until recently, male hair has been seen as a sign of manliness. From Samson of the Bible to Ernest Hemingway (famously proud of his hairy chest) to Sean Connery’s Bond, it has signified virility. There was a cultural shift, and the latest incarnation of Bond emerged from the sea hairless as a babe, and women lapped it up.
Men like David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and model David Gandy, too, have made male chest hair a thing of the past. They’re lean, muscular and smooth – this is the “ideal man” of our generation, and what the men of today seek to emulate.
The evidence is in the research. Studies have shown that more and more men are removing body hair on a regular basis.
Research by retail analysts Mintel revealed that 60% of 16 to 24-year-old British men now regularly remove their body hair. Of those surveyed, 13% said they had removed chest hair in the past year, 12% shaved their armpits and one in three men removed hair from his pubic region. Another statistic from SK:N, a UK clinic, claims that the number of men removing body hair through laser hair removal has risen 122% in the last five years.
SK:N clinics nurse Lisa Mason says:
“We’re seeing in recent years that men are becoming just as willing as women to undergo cosmetic procedures to feel comfortable with their bodies, last year alone we performed nearly 10,000 laser hair treatments on men.
“The rise in men going to gyms in recent years is an example of how they are becoming more conscious, they’re also willing to spend more and more money on their appearance to look more like their favourite celebrities and movie stars.”
It’s said that women spend an average of 72 days of her life shaving her legs, will the New Man have to dedicate this much time to hair removal too?