'Hairless ideal' grows on young men

YOUNG men are removing more body hair - although it is still seen as far more acceptable on men than women, researchers say.

Auckland University's Virginia Braun, and Gareth Terry from the Open University in the United Kingdom conducted an online survey relating to body hair removal on men and women.

Participants also gave details about their own body hair and which of it, if any, they removed.

"Until recently, in the West, the removal of body hair was mostly a female practice," Dr Terry said.

"However, in the last decade, more men have also started removing theirs. Compare for instance, Sean Connery's body with Daniel Craig's."

Another recent study noted that among young German men, up to 70 per cent removed their armpit hair, Dr Terry said.

"We wanted to explore the relatively under-examined issues of male body hair removal and any relationship this may have to their desire for the 'hairless ideal' expected of women."

The results showed that male body hair was still considered much more acceptable, except on the shoulders and back, than on women.

However, male body hair was not seen as particularly desirable.

"... It is perhaps still seen as a sign of virility and masculinity," Dr Terry said.

"This certainly wasn't the case for female body hair which was seen as neither acceptable nor desirable on almost the whole body.

"Women who choose not to shave, for whatever reason, are considered unfeminine and have 'let themselves go'.

"Men on the other hand seem to have much more scope for 'grooming' rather than hairlessness as an option."

Nearly 600 people aged 18-35 took part in the survey, the results of which will be presented to the British Psychological Society's Psychology of Women annual conference in Windsor, near London, today.