And Now To The Startling Story Of American Body Hair

We begin with the simple fact that every body has hair. What makes the story complicated are all the incredibly different places where that hair either glorifies or horrifies us. Stay with me here, because there are some follicle facts you may have never considered.

First among these remarkably inane facts is that no one knows who came up with them in the first place. Somehow they just are, and we thoughtlessly march lockstep through life accepting them as is. I say it’s high time we put down our combs and took a long serious look!

In the case of women, the hair on their heads is traditionally their ‘crowning glory.’ But having said that, women throughout history have wreaked terrible hair havoc on their heads. They call it ‘fashion,’ whereas most men other than hairdressers call it a ‘crime.’ I mean really, have you ever studied the bizarre hairdos over the centuries? Straight-cut, shave-cut, clipped, dangled, teased, curled or whatever. How many centuries have women with beautiful natural hair come out of beauty salons hundreds of dollars less and hundreds of tears more for what they have just done to themselves?

In the case of men, the hair on their heads is not so much a matter of fashion as it is of survival. We face the inevitability of male pattern baldness with a wide range of brutal reactions from shock to dread to rage to the local drug store. Even though there are recurring periods of baldness-is-sexy, most times most of us equate a thick head of hair with our looks, our virility, our very place in the sun.

Again, who the hell came up with these rules? Yet rules they are!

Like women must not have underarm hair, but the more men have the more they are men. What?? Another one says hair on a man’s back is “disgusting’ whereas on his chest it’s ‘manly.’ I’ve never figured that one out. Nor the one about sporting facial hair which keeps changing every few decades. Either it’s ‘cool’ or it’s ‘unkempt.’ And what about the rule that says hair over a woman’s lips is ‘gross,’ but over a man it’s ‘sophisticated.’

Hair fashions are a deep cultural mystery about which most men haven’t the slightest clue. On the other hand women do, yet what they do with that nowledge doesn’t seem to be all that useful, for they continue to stun us after every visit to their salons. Maybe the long strange saga of body hair is just one more cosmic proof that taste is a capricious thing, and what we call truth today may become nonsense tomorrow.

Come to think of it, truth has had a capricious history from the very start!

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