Thursday, September 2, 2010

Reasons for Removing Hair : Cultural and Sexual Aspects

Hair, its length, style and absence, is an aspect in the culture of human society. Its removal, entirely or in certain parts of the body, is normally done for cultural or sexual reasons, which may differ for males and females. People whose hair falls outside a culture's aesthetic standards may experience real or perceived social acceptance problems.

Many men in Western cultures shave their facial hair, so only a minority of men have a beard, even though fast-growing facial hair must be shaved daily to achieve a clean-shaven or hairless look. Some men shave because they cannot grow a "full" beard (generally defined as an even density from cheeks to neck), because their beard color is different from their scalp hair color, or because their facial hair grows in many directions, making a groomed look difficult. Some men shave because their beards are very coarse, causing itchiness and irritation. Some men grow a beard or moustache from time to time to change their appearance.

In many cultures, particularly North American and Western European, it became increasingly common during the 20th century for women to remove some or all of their body hair, due to societal values that consider it unattractive or unfeminine (see gender role). People may also remove some or all of their pubic hair for aesthetic or sexual reasons. Adult film stars are well known for this practice. In a sexual context, pubic hair removal is done to increase visual exposure of the genitalia and/or facilitate access to the genital area by removing the barrier of hair.

Some women in Western cultures choose not to remove hair from their bodies as an act of defiance against what they believe to be an oppressive ritual. Others choose not to remove hair simply because they have no desire to. Likewise, some men in Western cultures show defiance by choosing to shave body hair, such as on the legs or underarms.

Some men shave their heads, either as a fashion statement, because they find a shaved head preferable to the appearance of male pattern baldness, or in order to attain enhanced cooling of the skull – particularly for people suffering from hyperhidrosis. A much smaller number of women also shave their heads, often as a fashion or political statement.

Some women also shave their heads for cultural or social reasons. In India, tradition required widows in some sections of the society to shave their heads as part of being ostracized (see widowhood in Hinduism). The outlawed custom is still infrequently encountered mostly in rural areas, the society at large and the government are working to end the practice of ostracizing widows.

In Ancient Egypt, many people depilated their entire bodies to prevent infestation by lice, fleas, and other parasites. Ancient Egyptian priests also shaved or depilated all over daily, so as to present a "pure" body before the images of the gods.

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