"Ew, your legs are so hairy": #everydaylookism and the normalisation of the hairless body

The changing norms of body hair removal are dramatic and illustrative. I have written previously about the rise in body hair removal as the ‘canary in the mine’. We now remove nearly all body and facial hair. 
A survey of 7580 US residents aged between 18 and 65 found that “74% reported grooming their pubic hair, 66% of men and 84% of women” (Osterberg, Gaither, Awad, Truesdale, Allen, Sutclifee & Breyer, 2016, p.162). A generation ago this didn’t happen; few women removed pubic hair and there was a time in 60s and 70s when underarm hair could be considered sexy. (Although there are arguments about how extensive the acceptance of body hair really was. Some think it was limited to the fairly small, fairly affluent, hippy culture.) The change from then to now is dramatic. As Rebecca Herzig argues “within a single generation, female pubic hair had been rendered superfluous” (2015, p.137). 
It’s not just body hair we are obsessively removing, facial hair has also become a source of sham…

The effect of new beauty rituals on the future of human communication

By Marsha Wichers, cosmetic doctor and designer. Medical technology will bring us more ways to perfect our appearance. Over the past decades, the use of Botox has increased enormously.  What started as a drug against muscle spasms and strabismus is now a widespread way of preventing and treating wrinkles in the face, and is becoming part of the beauty ritual of more and more women in the Western world.
In my medical cosmetic practice in the Netherlands I see (mostly) women who come to me for advice. They want to look good for their age, or want to get rid of a tired look. But almost all of them say very explicitly ‘please make sure I will stay looking like me’, or 'I don't want to look overtreated and unnatural'.
But what exactly are they referring to? We all have a feeling and an idea what this is about. But to precisely describe what makes a look unnatural, is quite difficult. That is why I decided to research and visualize this phenomenon during my master studies in Design…

There is such a thing as an ethics of the beauty salon

Recent reports in the UK have raised worrying questions about the regulation of the beauty industry, whether it be the treatment of under-18s or the inadequate levels of care when removing moles and lesions. In 2016, Eline Bunnik wrote about how in the Netherlands these questions were already being taken seriously,  with the development of national ethical guidelines for beauticians. (This work was published as an article in Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics in 2018

Eline Bunnik (Erasmus MC, University Medical Centre Rotterdam) reflects on her work (with Frans Meulenberg & Inez de Beaufort) on a range of ethical issues related to beauty salons and beauticians in the Netherlands.

Worldwide, beauticians are progressively employing equipment and compounds that pervade more deeply into the skin, such as IPL/laser or chemical peelings. Present-day skin treatments aimed at hair removal, skin rejuvenation or therapeutic options for skin problems such as…

How the duty to be beautiful is making young girls feel like failures

You may have read the recent Observer article about how "the 'tweaked' look is becoming the new normal" - Heather Widdows was writing about this back in 2017 with a post that has only become more relevant with time.

A booming beauty industry is changing the way we see our bodies. (Shutterstock)Heather Widdows, University of Birmingham
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

From the daily application of high-tech lotions and potions to non-surgical procedures such as botox, fillers and peels, the beauty industry is booming like never before.With more products and treatments available there is also a growing pressure around how people feel they “should” or “shouldn’t” look. So whether it’s fake eyelashes, tattooed eyebrows, manicured nails, body waxing or lip fillers, the chances are we all know someone who has these – and often we view these types of treatments as “normal”.

The sociologist Dana Berkowitz, has poi…

(De)Constructing Body Positivity on Twitter - By Emilie Lawrence

Our Beauty Demands blog is 5 years old this year! We have had many brilliant posts over those years, so we're going to revisit some of these, starting with the ever-important topic of social media. Below is Emilie Lawrence's discussion on body positivity, which introduces a paper she presented at our workshop back in 2016: 

In this post, Emilie Lawrence (UCL) discusses her work on body positivity discourse as it plays out on social media.
The paper I am presenting at the forthcoming Beauty Demands workshop explores social media sites as platforms for creating networked communities (Papacharissi, 2010, 2011 & 2012) notions of the performative body (Butler, 1988) and embodied subjectivity (Braidotti, 2013.) I will explore body positive feminism ( an emerging form of online and offline activism stemming from Love Your Body (LYB) discourse, ‘positive, affirmative, seemingly feminist-inflected media messages, targeted exclusively at girls and women, that exhort us to believe we…

Be Ashamed of Body Shaming

Feeling ashamed of how we look has become normal. Hardly any of us think we make the beauty grade. We might even think there is something odd with someone who is perfectly happy with how they look. For some this anxiety is low level and periodic – a bad hair day once in a while, or a fleeting thought that we wish we could lose a few pounds when we glance in the mirror. For others it is overwhelming and almost constant, a deep shame which stops us doing all kinds of things. In the Girls’ Attitudes survey 2016conducted by Girl Guiding UK, “47% of girls aged 11–21 say the way they look holds them back”. This is nearly half of young women who are willing to admit that how they look limits what they can do.
The list of where we fail, and what we feel ashamed of is almost endless. It is hard to find a body part which can’t be thought of as failing, and flaws - perceived flaws – can be found in every body. No matter how much you might fit the ideal, flaws can be found. Selena Gomez, who was …

No Going Back after the First Pluck?

Outside Hirsutism1 and at times pubic hair2, societal perceptions of women’s bodies include an absence of hair3, as we know female beauty and normative femininity is still overall represented and perceived through a hairless appearance. Representations overarchingly continuing to construct and maintain an image of a ‘fuzz free’ look as natural for women (Jenkins, 2017; Smelik, 2015; Fahs and Delgardo, 2011), and hair outside what should softly cascade from our scalps, as the invader to be plucked, waxed, shaved, bleached and/or lasered off. 

Accordingly, even as representations of hairlessness are brought into question in the UK and elsewhere, with female celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Amber Rose and Madonna publicly embracing their body hair, hair removal products and methods continue to boom. 

For the BSA (British South Asian) women I interviewed in Birmingham4, the mundane and routine act of hair removal that often starts in adolescence, is positioned as requiring continuous and dedic…