Health & Beauty The Art of Shaving

What Does ‘Hairy’ Really Mean? At Look at the Global Trends of Tendrils

So maybe you’ve noticed trends in western culture about body hair and men’s facial hair over the years, waxing and waning, according to various current whims and fads.

Men were clean-shaven in the 1960’s, mustachioed and bearded in the 1970’s. The 80’s and 90’s proved to be a free-for-all when it came to facial hair, and men seem to have now, once again, eschewed their Braun shavers for the big jobs, only to purpose them for trims of their luscious beards.

Women have also gone in different directions in regards to body hair, but the changes are generally less obvious when much of a woman’s unwanted hair tends to only be noticed seasonally, like while wearing shorts, bikinis or sleeveless shirts in the summertime.

For women in the United States, the idea of “less is more” covers the general attitude toward body hair, but that is not necessarily a universal sentiment.

Hair Outside the United States

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You might be interested to know that body hair is often as much an expression of cultural norms, ideologies and a demonstration of political alignment, as it is about current trends and fashions. Often, hair and fashion trends are limited within a country’s borders and do not stray beyond a culture’s geographical borders.

Let’s examine a few different attitudes and trends in facial and body hair outside the U.S. borders:

Women Around the World and Body Hair 

In the United States, we find it practically deplorable to see a woman raise her arms to reveal a patch of armpit hair, but across Europe, it is not uncommon to see the ladies let their body hair grow freely. As a matter of fact, many European and British Isle celebrities feel no need to own popular razors or braun shavers, such as the Braun Silk Epil, that American women adore.

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Foreign actresses, like Penelope Cruz and Helena Bonham Carter, singer Amanda Palmer, and British transplant Madonna, all sport natural underarm and leg hair proudly. Some American celebrities have now decided to give it a try, too. Julia Roberts has long avoided her razor. New devotees include Beyonce, Britney Spears, Drew Barrymore, Lisa Bonet and Kelly Rowland.

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Chinese culture has both respected and revered the presence of armpit hair in women throughout history, so it is hard to tell where preferences fall. For the most part in China, the presence of body hair remains fairly acceptable.

In fact, this past summer, the popular Chinese social media site, Weibo (China’s version of Twitter), asked women to post pictures of their unshaven armpits online as part of a large activism campaign, the results of which were very positive.

Men’s Facial Hair Throughout the Globe

Through some online research, it is difficult to find even a remote market for Braun shavers in areas like the Middle Eastern and Arab world. While American men seem to have currently adopted a pro or laissez-fair stance on facial and body hair, men in many other parts of the world consider facial hair a part of their religious identity, societal status, or a sign of respect.

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According to the BBC article, Decoding Facial Hair, a man’s facial hair in the Arab and Muslim world is most often an expression of his deep Islamic religious beliefs, and may even allow for insight about the type of person he is or his status in society.

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In Egypt, facial hair has gone so far as to become a civil rights issue. For many years, especially in early Egyptian empires, both men and women were discouraged from having any hair on their face or body whatsoever, and would go through drastic and often painful measures to remove it – even burn their skin! Present day Egyptian men now WANT to grow their beards, and do so as an act of long-standing political defiance.

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China now stands as the country leading in minimal to no facial hair, while men in the U.S. fall somewhere right in the middle of the “hairy” spectrum.

It seems, though, that in the United States, most men tend to view shaving facial and body hair as more of a personal choice, almost an artistic form of expression in some regions, while women here continue to generally keep their Braun epilator close by, just in case of warm autumn breeze.