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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Universal Freakishness

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Author Topic: Universal Freakishness
Rizzo
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Okay, I know this is my pet topic and all, but here I am with another body hair topic!!! But I prominse I won't get all preachy

I recently saw a great documentary about body hair, and soon after, I came to a strange realization. How can something that is universal (i.e. body hair-- it happens to us all) be seen as freaky? (Women with it are often seen as freaks.) I'd thought about the fact it was natural before, but not the fact that it's universal (among adults, anyway). Is there any other universal human feature that is as repulsive to some of us?

The documentary suggested that our disdain for body hair is largely a symptom of our desire to differentiate ourselves from animals. But this doesn't explain why it is still more acceptable for men to be hairy (though the documentary noted that there is a trend toward chest shaving and such for men). Is being hairless a symbol of our triumph over nature? Is it an indication of our obsession with cleanliness?


Posts: 582 | From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bobolink
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Rizzo, I do take exception to your comments about men and body hair. Most men have to deal with unwanted body hair daily. Believe it ot not, shaving a beard is no picnic. Would you prefer that all men grow their beards?

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The most exciting phrase in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" ("I found it!") but rather "Hmmm... that's funny...."

- Isaac Asimov


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Rizzo
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Bobolink: It makes no difference to me what men or women decide to do with their body hair. I wasn't saying that men don't have to deal with body hair, I was saying that it's generally more accepted for men to have beards than for women to be hairy. A man with a beard doesn't elicit the same disgust as a woman with hairy armpits. No, I don't think it would be a picnic to shave my face, and I'm glad I'm not a man for that reason. It would be a difficult decision or me, whether to shave or not.
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Gumdrop Girl
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the idea that humans should differentiate themselves from animals has led to plenty of strange things. like clothing.

anyone ever heard of tooth blackening and tooth filing? common practice in southeast asia. they'd stain their teeth black because only animals had white teeth. and animals have fangs, too, which is why they'd file down their teeth so that they'd be straight across.

tooth filing is still practiced in Bali, but tooth blackening is obsolete.

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i use angst


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Rizzo
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It's fascinating what we silly humans will do to distance ourselves from nature. While we no longer blacken our teeth, we try to one-up each other by seeing who can have the greenest, shortest, most weed-free lawns...
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Heather
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I actually feel I should add that the "freakishness" you experience due to having body hair is nothing close to universal.

It is, in fact, something which is very specific to given historical periods and locations.

While I have been in one place at one time where those around me seemed to stare at visible body hair, I have been at other places where not only did no one do so, they stared at those who didn't have body hair. And that changes from decade to decade in North America as well. I've noticed that just in the span of my lifetime.

And if you ask a Romanian gypsy, she'll cluck her tongue and tell you that a woman who shaves her armpits will lose her partner to another. That's just one hair superstition, but there are plenty.

So, really, it isn't universal at all. And as far as history and locations go, it is not the norm at all, but the rarity.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Laughs_Wisely
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I'm just proud to be a hairball. :-) I rarely, if ever shave, cuz I don't see the point, and I think the people who give me odd looks are kind of funny. Miz S is right, though, hair removal is kind of a 'fad' thing (if fad can be defined by something that lasts for a short term period in a relatively small population). I'm just waiting for the day when hairy women are back in...:-)

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Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.
( Tr. "I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head." )


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Rizzo
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Me too, Laughs Wisely!

Anyway, I again feel a need to clarify myself. It's so hard to word things perfectly. Miz Scarlet, I wasn't saying that being repulsed by body hair is universal, only that body hair itself is.

And I've been thinking about it, and discovered a few more humanly universal things that elicit disgust. Body odors of any kind. Bodily functions. That sort of thing...


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Heather
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Ah! My mistake then. So sorry.

Body odors are certainly a biggie, though again -- as with body hair -- this is far more an issue in "civilized" (irony or ironies) cultures than in native cultures.

And I do think you're on to something in seeing it as a segregation between man and nature. I think it also has to do with emotional vulnberability -- many people nowadays are far more insular than they have been in other times and places, and showing your humanness -- via scents, hair, even by the covering of breasts in our culture -- is seen as ricky or dicey. Or foolish.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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ThisGuy
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I believe that blackened teeth originated in Japan at least, from an Emperor with bad/no teeth - the courtiers all blackened theirs to curry favour.

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Fred Durst: Alternative "tough" guy...
...or whiny little weasel with a third grade vocabulary?


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Dzuunmod
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Gumdrop, if you ever live through a Montreal winter (or a Northeastern U.S. one, for that matter), I assure you you'll no longer think that clothing is strictly to differentiate animals from humans!

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When you get off work tonight, meet me at the construction site, and we'll write some notes to tape to the heavy machines, like "We hope they treat you well. Hope you don't work too hard. We hope you get to be happy sometimes."
-the Weakerthans


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Rizzo
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How could I have forgotten the obsession with youth? I think the association with youth is what appeals about hairlessness, and the association with animals is what disgusts (some) about hairiness. Just my theory of course! Still doesn't explain why hair on heads is seen as beautiful. Ah, it is too complex for my simplistic theories.
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