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As beachgoers scramble to trim their nether regions ahead of swim season, new UNLV research shows they aren't alone in their ambitions for a bare bikini line.
A study led by UNLV anthropology graduate student Lyndsey Craig and co-authored by professor Peter Gray combed through written records from the 1890s to early 2000s from nearly 200 societies around the world to figure out how pubic hair removal practices differ from Western societies and the motives behind it.
Research - West - Women - Percent - US
Existing research had already found that in the cultural West, it's typically women who sport shorn slopes—about 84 percent in the U.S. alone compared to 66 percent of men. In those studies, both genders cited the influence of pornography and of product marketing for waxing salons and depilatory creams as the main motivating factors in choosing to remove their pubic hair. Other factors include partner expectations, oral sex practices, peer pressure to conform to cultural norms, the desire to feel sexy and self-confident, perceived hygiene concerns, and the association of pubic hair with feelings of disgust and uncleanliness.
Meanwhile, research on non-Western cultures has been scarce. For a majority of the 72 societies that UNLV researchers found to specifically mention pubic hair removal or retention, it turned out that women were similarly more likely than men to lop off their lower locks. Their most common motive, however, was actual hygiene concerns (prevention of lice, ticks, and irritation) rather than perceived thoughts about cleanliness. Other reasons included cultural beliefs that pubic hair is ugly and social signaling to mark ocassions such as marriage or a couple's return to a vibrant sex life following mourning over a deceased child. A few mythological texts referenced using the stray strands to craft archery strings, mix into medicines, or perform rituals or spells.
While Westerners tend to shave or wax, the most...
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