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-   -   Underarm Hair (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=797281)

jbaker 06-30-2016 05:23 PM

Underarm Hair
 
As discussed in a recent New York Times article, it seems that many women think that it is more hygienic to shave or otherwise remove pubic hair, even though the opposite is the case. I am saddened by this, since I am a man who is pro-pubic hair.

But I'm not pro-underarm hair. Is there a similar rationale under which women ideally should retain their underarm hair? What is the evolutionary purpose of underarm hair, anyway?

silenus 06-30-2016 05:28 PM

Several theories. Some say it retains scent markers that were useful in some way. Others suggest it works as a dry lubricant. Both have elements of truthiness. But really, you should be asking "Why hasn't underarm hair been selected against, evolutionarily-speaking?"

HMS Irruncible 06-30-2016 05:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jbaker (Post 19446016)
As discussed in a recent New York Times article, it seems that many women think that it is more hygienic to shave or otherwise remove pubic hair, even though the opposite is the case. I am saddened by this, since I am a man who is pro-pubic hair.

But I'm not pro-underarm hair. Is there a similar rationale under which women ideally should retain their underarm hair? What is the evolutionary purpose of underarm hair, anyway?

Can't be bothered for a cite, but a couple of things:
  • Almost certainly we were originally covered completely with hair
  • And then we lost it
  • So the question is not why hair, but why did we lose it everywhere except there? Like why not hairy elbows or knees?

There is a body of research that says these regions emit pheremones that have a measurable effect on attraction and repulsion. If you look anatomically at the armpit and groin region, one thing they have in common is they're warmer than the rest of the body, and they have all these different stinky glands than the rest of our skin. Hair helps diffuse these odors, so it would seem that we keep the pit and pube hair around for sexual attraction purposes.

As for why someone would shave one and not the other, it's a cultural matter that defies easy explanation. Shaving wasn't common until fashions started revealing those areas, and I guess society decided that women needed to differentiate themselves from men in the hair department.

Personally, and here is where we get into my weirdo deal, I think pits should run wild and pubes should be shaven (I mean just access shaving, not pedophile shaving). Let's have all that pheremone awesomeness in the areas that are most exposed, and let's get rid of all that hair where somebody could get it up in their teeth. I'll go first.

Bear_Nenno 06-30-2016 06:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HMS Irruncible (Post 19446058)
Can't be bothered for a cite, but a couple of things:
  • Almost certainly we were originally covered completely with hair
  • And then we lost it
  • So the question is not why hair, but why did we lose it everywhere except there? Like why not hairy elbows or knees?

There is a body of research that says these regions emit pheremones that have a measurable effect on attraction and repulsion. If you look anatomically at the armpit and groin region, one thing they have in common is they're warmer than the rest of the body, and they have all these different stinky glands than the rest of our skin. Hair helps diffuse these odors, so it would seem that we keep the pit and pube hair around for sexual attraction purposes.

As for why someone would shave one and not the other, it's a cultural matter that defies easy explanation. Shaving wasn't common until fashions started revealing those areas, and I guess society decided that women needed to differentiate themselves from men in the hair department.

Personally, and here is where we get into my weirdo deal, I think pits should run wild and pubes should be shaven (I mean just access shaving, not pedophile shaving). Let's have all that pheremone awesomeness in the areas that are most exposed, and let's get rid of all that hair where somebody could get it up in their teeth. I'll go first.

Pedophile shaving? Really?? :dubious:

When a body builder waxes his entire body from the neck down, would you also suggest he does it to look like a child or that someone would be attracted to a clean shaven man because it makes him look like a child?

Kimstu 06-30-2016 06:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jbaker (Post 19446016)
Is there a similar rationale under which women ideally should retain their underarm hair? What is the evolutionary purpose of underarm hair, anyway?

The Master speaks.

TriPolar 06-30-2016 06:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HMS Irruncible (Post 19446058)
Can't be bothered for a cite, but a couple of things:
  • Almost certainly we were originally covered completely with hair
  • And then we lost it
  • So the question is not why hair, but why did we lose it everywhere except there? Like why not hairy elbows or knees?

We didn't lose it so much as it became much finer hair. We aren't born with the hair we're talking about, so clearly this hair is related to physical maturation, perhaps not as easy to change it's formation genetically.

Kimstu 06-30-2016 06:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jbaker (Post 19446016)
Is there a similar rationale under which women ideally should retain their underarm hair?

Well, shaving it can damage the underarm skin.
Quote:

The results clearly demonstrate that shaving the underarm consistently removes skin (stratum corneum) as well as axillary hair (with a mean value of 36.1% of the debris being skin). OCT measurements demonstrated that in shaved areas of the axilla, epidermal thickness is higher than in unshaved areas. In response to histamine, wheal and flare were both found to be greater in the shaved axilla, when compared with an unshaved control, but flare in the fossa was greater than that in the vault. On the basis of these results, we propose that the axillary vault has adapted to frequent shaving, notably by the development of a thickened epidermis. However, this adaptation is often not sufficient to fully protect the axilla from damage and irritation resulting from hair removal (shaving).
Everything you never wanted to know about underarm rashes, including ones caused by shaving. Warning: photos.
Quote:

Armpit hair shaving using a razor, especially an old or dull razor can irritate, break, cause razor burn, raised red bumps, ingrown hair or even cause infections to the delicate and sensitive armpit skin leading to an armpit shaving rash.
And of course, it's just one more unnecessary nuisance task to add to the routine health and hygiene regimen. You probably wouldn't want to have to do it yourself.

HMS Irruncible 06-30-2016 07:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno (Post 19446122)
When a body builder waxes his entire body from the neck down, would you also suggest he does it to look like a child or that someone would be attracted to a clean shaven man because it makes him look like a child?

Sounds like you're the expert; you tell me.

jbaker 06-30-2016 07:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kimstu (Post 19446170)
Well, shaving it can damage the underarm skin.


Everything you never wanted to know about underarm rashes, including ones caused by shaving. Warning: photos.


And of course, it's just one more unnecessary nuisance task to add to the routine health and hygiene regimen. You probably wouldn't want to have to do it yourself.

Well, yes, but it sounds like there are hygienic advantages to pubic hair even aside from the potential harm of shaving or depilation. Does underarm hair have anything comparable to offer?

Bear_Nenno 06-30-2016 07:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HMS Irruncible (Post 19446271)
Sounds like you're the expert; you tell me.

I'd rather not tell you what I think. I'll let you say it http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=785838

Kimstu 06-30-2016 08:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jbaker (Post 19446292)
Well, yes, but it sounds like there are hygienic advantages to pubic hair even aside from the potential harm of shaving or depilation. Does underarm hair have anything comparable to offer?

Not in terms of protecting mucous membranes from bacteria, certainly, because there aren't any mucous membranes in the armpit. As silenus noted, it may serve to reduce skin-on-skin friction from the movement of the arms against the body, but people who remove their underarm hair don't seem to be particularly bothered by that friction.

Ignotus 06-30-2016 08:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kimstu (Post 19446170)
And of course, it's just one more unnecessary nuisance task to add to the routine health and hygiene regimen. You probably wouldn't want to have to do it yourself.

Hey, I shave my armpits! My chest too! Women like it, and it has never caused me the slightest inconvenience!

SeaDragonTattoo 06-30-2016 08:37 PM

I wish more men would at least trim their pit hair. I think guys being stanky is just as unattractive as women being stanky. Plus, when there's bits of deodorant stuck in the pit-bush, I mean, congrats on attempting to smell fresh, but gross. And while you're at it with the clippers, do a little hedge trimming under that waistline, too.

Ambivalid 06-30-2016 08:51 PM

Im a man and i trim my pits and shave my balls. Hair is fucking gross.

HMS Irruncible 06-30-2016 09:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno (Post 19446294)
I'd rather not tell you what I think. I'll let you say it http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=785838

That's quite well done, but of course it's the old ad hominem in its most elemental undistilled form. Since you've taken it here, let's unpack your thing about waxing the entire body from the neck down, and the sexual issues with which that is totally not fraught with.

HMS Irruncible 06-30-2016 09:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno (Post 19446122)
When a body builder waxes his entire body from the neck down, would you also suggest he does it to look like a child or that someone would be attracted to a clean shaven man because it makes him look like a child?

Honestly, I haven't been there and I can't say. Just from a rough guesstimate, I'll rule you out of the pedophile camp, so it seems like we need to unpack your whole attraction to a clean whole-body shaven man. Which, again, no judgment or inference, but from the context this is just apparently where you needed to go with this.

We have people here who are totally down with waxed bodybuilders, so you are in a safe space. It gets better.

HMS Irruncible 06-30-2016 09:57 PM

Pardon my dick move. That wasn't cool. Apologies.

octopus 06-30-2016 09:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ambivalid (Post 19446456)
Im a man and i trim my pits and shave my balls. Hair is fucking gross.

I thought shaving some butt crack hair would reduce swamp ass. Nope. So while shaving the nutsack may be helpful I don't comprehend how people can live with crack stubble.

HMS Irruncible 06-30-2016 10:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by octopus (Post 19446577)
I thought shaving some butt crack hair would reduce swamp ass. Nope. So while shaving the nutsack may be helpful I don't comprehend how people can live with crack stubble.

You can never shave the butt crack hair. Shave anything else, but you need some ventilation in the buttcrack. Not only does it attract fungus, but every fart sounds like a gunshot. Whatever your problem, there is a better solution. Fly like an eagle.

dhricenak 07-04-2016 08:19 AM

Q Interview
 
FWIW a while ago I heard an interview on the CBC radio program Q with a woman who not didn't shave her underarm hair but dyed it. It was implied that this was a trend but I haven't heard about it anywhere else. Not that I've looked too hard!:dubious:

beowulff 07-04-2016 11:28 AM

Holy crap.
Is this what GQ has become?

MacLir 07-05-2016 10:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kimstu (Post 19446394)
Not in terms of protecting mucous membranes from bacteria, certainly, because there aren't any mucous membranes in the armpit. As silenus noted, it may serve to reduce skin-on-skin friction from the movement of the arms against the body, but people who remove their underarm hair don't seem to be particularly bothered by that friction.

As a competing example, at one time my main exercise was a NordicTrack which involves extended arm motion.

In a word, dreadlocks. Not that large; I'm not that hairy, but definite cohesion. The big problem was that they formed with my arms down, so when I reached up for something :eek:

Trimming solved the problem.


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