Why Remove Body Hair?: Arguments From Nudists/Naturists

Reasons they give:

  1. Hair harbours bacteria and odour. Underarm and genital hair serve the purposes of conveying natural body ‘pheromones’ (hormonally secreted odours) which are meant primarily to attract the opposite sex. Most people find this odour less appealing than synthetic scents (perfumes, deodorants, anti-perspirants), and associate it with uncleanliness or lack of hygiene.
  2. Keeping unnecessary body hair is traditional form of genderized identity, a legacy the Free Body Movement is trying to overtake and replace;
  3. Naturism does not equate to the denial of individual (sexual or not) expression – just as in “textile” or clothed society;
  4. 99% of naturists are not nude all the time. Most live at least half of their lives clothed, due to occupational and residential constraints. Hence, opportunities for self-expression may over-compensate for the constraints they would rather leave, of the clothed world;
  5. Because others do it (situational norms);
  6. Since men’s sex organs are visible, and depilation for women amounts to a ‘balancing’ of this perceived “unfairness”, i.e., pubic hair hides or conceals, and this is not fair nor necessary;
  7. Whether in clothed cultures or not, shaved bodies are sexually more appealing (and manageable);
  8. Head hair offers some form of protection from the elements whereas body hair does not. Therefore, it serves no obvious purpose and is therefore expendable;
  9. It interferes with clothing, e.g., zippers;
  10. Aesthetically, it puts the body ‘out of balance’ with total nudity, i.e., works of art often omit under-arm and pubic hair;
  11. It belies one’s true age, so grey hair is removed below the neckline;
  12. The Free Body Movement tends to attract people who are ‘free-thinkers’, intellectuals, risk-takers, etc., and there most likely is a social class and/or ethnic factor as well.

As much as the naturist/nudist movement rhetoric sounds currently utopian, it is far too young a social movement to be able to completely free itself from current body norms and laws. Not enough people do it yet to give it the political force to cause serious change, although small gains like women’s right to go topless in public place, e.g., in Ontario (1997), may represent important stepping stones towards body egalitarianism and acceptance. Body hair removal seen as a ‘liberation’ exercise within this larger movement, regardless comes down to a personal choice, as it is somewhat arbitrary. Much like a clothing optional society would be. The Free Body Movement is not pursuing it goals proscriptively; rather, as a prescription for a healthier and more egalitarian world society.

T.L Hill, PhD

December 23, 2020 Co-founder and Member: Federation of Canadian Naturists, http://www.fcn.org