Female Body Hair Narratives : Influences of the Collegiate Space on the Female Hairlessness Norm
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This study examines the rejection of normative female body hair removal among collegiate women and the social and environmental factors of the collegiate setting that facilitate this rejection. While female body hair removal is pervasive in the western context, coming to be referred to by scholars as the "hairlessness norm," little research has been conducted in regard to deviation from this norm and the causes of that deviance. In the collegiate setting, the female hairlessness norm persists. However, this research aims to fill gaps within the literature on norm deviation and gender norms in regard to the particular rejection of female hairlessness that manifests itself in the collegiate environment and the associated factors that contribute to this deviation. The author used qualitative research methods and conducted nine interviews with collegiate women enrolled at Kalamazoo College who in some way reject normative female body hair removal and hairlessness in order to determine the social factors through which this norm deviation is negotiated. The results indicate that respondents rejecting female hairlessness become conscious of their own practices through their entrance into the heterogeneous collegiate environment itself. Further, expressions of identity and socio-political ideology that manifest in female rejection of hairlessness are facilitated by the campus climate in regard to its political and social composition and discourse as well as cohesive social groups established in this context. Results also indicate that particular notions of success for women in the collegiate environment as detached from the female aesthetic facilitate rejection of the female hairlessness norm among this population particularly.
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