The three of us were standing in the kitchen talking over our cups of coffee last Sunday morning when the topic of body hair came up. I can’t recall how it started but Ellaria asked pointedly about underarm hair. It didn’t take long before it got to you know– fill in your favorite euphemism: mowing the lawn, tending the garden, trimming the hedge– and our respective preferences. For what it’s worth, I said anything goes down below but I don’t like the “Don King in a headlock” look on women, feminism be damned (and yes, yes, I subreferenced a “Yo mama” joke…). Being educated, discursive types, our conversation drifted onto female body ideals, the influence of social pressure, and 90’s porn. Being the half-sobered, discoursive type, I tried to make the case that this plucking and tweezing isn’t new and you can take out any Art History 100 textbook to demonstrate it but didn’t have my facts at hand but now (thanks to google) I do: See Jill Burke’s blog Did renaissance women remove their body hair?. Also note that the classical images here are nearly three hundred years apart and, while I’m not going into it, notice the waist-hip ratio. There’s a persistent ideal running through here.
That said, I suppose I’m fortunate that contemporary masculine standards for appearance are pretty loose… aside from the “neck beard” which we all agree is just poor grooming.