A Hairy Conundrum

ROSIE ROBSON gets to grips with some hairy issues.


Do women wax for men or for themselves? Seeing Russian supermodel Irina Shayk strutting on the dance floor with a leg full of prickles can’t help but make us question whether being hairless is a prerequisite of female beauty.

Feminists like Aisha Mirza are starting to argue that women who keep themselves hair-free are unwittingly giving in to the demands of a chauvinist society. Even more than that, they’re complicit in bringing about the death of the natural body as the attractive kind of body.

But this wrongly suggests that women desire to be hair-free just because men want them to be that way. The idea of hairlessness as a sign of femininity and attractiveness is not some underground strategy of suppression cooked up by misogynists. It’s completely rational as a mark of beauty when we consider that genders are traditionally defined by their opposition to each other.

We go to a university where people think critically about what they do and why, isn’t it just a little bit patronising to think that all the female students at Cambridge who wax are somehow gullible victims of the patriachy?

Waxing takes place for various explicable and, crucially, non-sexist reasons. It makes you feel confidently odour free, it make you more accessible for stimulation (female sexual fulfilment being another vital tenet of feminism) and heck, it even stops your sun cream getting stuck in a thicket of hair.

Oh and it has the added benefit of being generally seen as attractive – this does not suddenly make it oppressive! Western society, for both men and women, creates its own beauty ideals and we all in some way conform to these – hence so many men who also undergo the daily shaving ritual.

Which all makes it particularly annoying when women who want to be pubes-and-all complain about the unkind comments their rebellion provokes. They say this denies them the choice to be hairy. Of course we should respect the freedom of people to present themselves as they like, but they can’t expect everyone to like their appearance. Especially when they choose a style which is deliberately unpopular. If women have the desire but not the confidence to defy conventional culture they should simply man up and show a bit of hair.

The problem is, this faux-feminist stunt seems to have some damaging side effects. Firstly it condemns women who do de-hair for wanting to be attractive or, “sexy little fembots”.

It also implies that the majority of women who conform to conventional attractiveness are too stupidly submissive to male ideals to assume their own sense of personal beauty. They fail to actually address whether or not the hairless look is an unhealthy beauty standard for women. It has been pointed out that women spend a lot of wasted time and money on grooming their hair into submission. However, society will always create a standard of beauty and an industry around that.

If being hairy was the fashion of the day there would probably be no end of hair growing products in the aisles. There could even be fashion shows of braided, dyed and dreadlocked leg hair – the mind boggles. I frankly do not think that just because the hairless image is not natural one it should be deemed unhealthy.