Fashion moves against body hair removal

Kendra Hamilton
Life Reporter

Doctors, celebrities and the media are all getting vocal about women going all-natural below the belt.

Missing from the chorus in support of lush lady locks however, is an important demographic – men.

An unscientific survey of 30 Humber students aged 18 to 33, showed an even split between students in support of women sporting an unshaved pubic region, however, only 23 per cent of those in support were male.

The survey showed men hold themselves to a similar standard, with 93 per cent of male students stating they support “manscaping,” or male grooming below the belt.

“If you maintain it, it shows class, that you maintain yourself,” said Ethan Jones, 31, a second year Fitness and Health Promotion student.

The easy access to pornography has played a factor in training the male gaze to have certain (potentially unrealistic) expectations, said Dr. Jennifer Marotta, a Humber professor who teaches a course called, The Body, Beauty, Sex and Consumerism.

“I worry that some may feel undue pressure to participate in certain beauty rituals, more to please others than to please themselves,” Marotta said.

But pop culture has also played a role in making women raise their expectations concerning their own personal grooming, she said.

Increased access to Photoshop-altered images and sexualized advertising has trained the eye to not only accept, but also expect unrealistic beauty standards, said Marotta.

But those standards that come at risk to health, said Marianne Gullo, a laser technician at a Toronto dermatologist’s office.

According to Gullo, hair is there for a reason and likely acts as protection from infection. Even when a strip of hair is left, the mucus membrane of the outer labia is being lasered and there’s no filtering system, said Gullo.

Hair removal can cause skin irritation such as folliculitis, which looks like an ingrown hair with pus, making it easier for bacteria or viruses to get in, said the Toronto Public Health unit in a report.

Laser hair removal is a permanent solution. Unlike waxing, laser hair removal requires multiple treatments, but once competed hair will grow back very fine, or in some cases, not at all.

“It’s a fad right now for the Brazilian, a procedure that removes hair from the entire genital region, but I’ve been saying soon it’s going to turn the other way around,” Gullo said.

Media images and reports supporting bushy bounty have indeed been proliferating in the past weeks: the Winter 2013-14 Candy magazine cover showed Lady Gaga displaying a lavish garden, while Time was one of many news outlets that reported on the American Apparel mannequins decked out with public hair. The New York Times recently said pubic hair is back in feminine vogue, and The Guardian deemed 2014 the “Year of the Bush.”

With celebrities like Cameron Diaz writing in her new book about the importance of pubic hair, it’s possible that in the next few years we see a backlash to this hairless trend, said Marotta.

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