To have or not ? A little on the cheeks okay, but on the armpits, it still does not go. Especially not on the shoulders, but it is beginning to be admitted on the shins … In short, the hairs, since it is them, it’s complicated, and for a long time. Indeed, humans, these hairless apes, have always worried about tracking down the remains of the beast on their bodies. Think of Johnny Weissmuller, the first of the cinematographic Tarzan, who presented a clean torso and a beardless chin in the middle of the jungle to confirm that the chimpanzee Cheeta was indeed only an adopted sister. “The hairs are reminiscent of our animal side,” recalls Dr Pierre Desvaux, director of sexology teaching at the Faculty of Medicine in Paris. “Human societies have therefore always equalized, cut, trimmed, shaved, waxed … It is a matter of domesticating them to erase our wild side”.
From Antiquity, the canons of beauty exalted the smooth and clean bodies. The recipe for oriental hair removal with honey dates back to the ancient kingdoms of Mesopotamia before being shared throughout the Middle East and around the Mediterranean. Egyptian priests, starting with the Pharaohs, complied with full hair removal as a sign of purity.
In fact, religious thought is never far from the razor. In the Christian religion, while the devil – also called the Beast by the way – is very hairy, angels do not wear the shadow of a down. Logically, if the sex of angels remains debated, everyone agrees that they have no sexuality. Or sexuality and hair are precisely braided tight.
If we except the eyebrows and the hair, it is during puberty that the majority of hairs appear on the chin, the pubis or under the armpits; or that they are reinforced, on the shins for example. Hair is a secondary sexual character just like the Adam’s apple (clearly visible when Adam shaves). Its vigor is directly linked to hormonal activity and especially to testosterone, present in both sexes, but more abundant in men. However, it is the latter, friend of the beard, which acts on the growth, thickness and darkening of the hairs transforming the nice sleeping bags into razor game.
Hide this hair that cannot be seen! The hair is fundamentally erotic, especially as it retains perspiration and captivating sexual pheromones. Its hunt therefore became industrial when fashion began to discover bodies in the last century. The hair was too daring, unbecoming. Finally, it is about women. So they scratched their shins and scratched their armpits to wear miniskirts and tank tops. No question of letting “hay”, as they said, protrude from the cutout of a Brazilian jersey. It hurts ? You have to suffer to be beautiful… Well, more precisely, you have to show your body to be sexy, but not your hair so as not to be sexual.
The hair under the arms, for example, thus remains a sexual marker. According to the survey on depilatory practices carried out by Ifop
for the charles.co medical sexology platform, the sight of underarm hair causes discomfort – yes, discomfort – which is four times greater when bushy armpits are female (57%) than when they are male (15 %).
But where everything gets complicated is with the pubis. Placed under the inquisitive eye of porn cinema cameras, the origin of the world ended up being shaved, to be shown, to give a better view. “With the shift in porn, the sexuality of Mr. and Mrs. everyone has followed the turn initiated by porn actresses in the 80s,” said Dr. Desvaux. “Thus came the hair removal of the pubis in the metro ticket, then full hair removal. Hair removal had become a promise of sexual expertise ”. Incidentally, sexuality was thus reoriented around the gaze and the light, rather than the shadow and the smell.
The “No Shave”, a rising trend
Is it going too far? Between a certain refusal of beauty diktats, the desire for ecological naturalness or because shaved skin ends up scratching…, “No Shave” is a growing trend. According to the Ifop poll, if 73% of women today still consider that they must wax to be attractive, they were 90% to believe it in 2013. In this spring 2021, it remains to be seen what the influence of confinement will be. . Will the three-day beard carefully groomed by telecommuting backpackers remain in fashion? Will women give up one of the rare freedoms allowed by the pandemic: attend a work meeting with their hairy shins well away from the cameras (again the cameras!) Of the teleconference? Ah, the hairs are complicated!
* Ifop study for charles.co carried out from January 19 to 20, 2021 with a sample of 2,027 people, representative of the population aged 18 and over living in mainland France.
The care is focused on psychotherapy and particularly Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy (CBT), possibly associated with medication.