Why don't women wear/grow beards? (2023)

Table of Contents (click to enlarge)
  • The role of hormones in hair growth
  • evolutionary stories
  • In search of smooth skin
  • grow cost

Many studies suggest that high levels of testosterone in the body stimulate rapid facial hair growth. Because girls have more estrogen than testosterone, their facial hair growth is not productive.

Take a moment to think about how human hair grows. Then compare it to any other mammal. You'll be hard pressed to find any other animal (to keep marine mammals like whales and dolphins out of the picture) that has luxuriant, long hair on select body parts (the head and, in the case of men, the chin and cheeks). . ) and poor growth in others (e.g. arms, legs, abdomen). And more broadly, why do people, especially women, practice hair removal?

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The role of hormones in hair growth

While we understand how and why modern-day young women are so reluctant to voluntarily groom their facial hair, it is true that facial hair growth in women is much less productive than in men. Now let's try to understand the scientific reasons for this difference.

Scientists working in the field of neuroscience claim that men have thick facial hair in the form of mustaches and beards for a very specific reason. Facial hair growth in both men and women begins in the hypothalamus, a section located at the base of the brain. The hypothalamus sends signals to a gland called the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland then sends signals that activate the ovaries in girls and the testicles in boys. You may have learned in school that the ovaries help produce a hormone called estrogen in girls. On the other hand, the testicles help produce a hormone called testosterone in boys. The rigorous activity of these twoHormonehelp propel our bodies towards puberty.

Boys become more "manly" with increased testosterone levels, while increased estrogen levels make girls more "girly". Many studies have shown that high levels of testosterone in the body stimulate rapid facial hair growth. Because girls have more estrogen than testosterone, their facial hair growth is not as profuse. Therefore, in girls who have problems with rapid growth of facial hair, testosterone levels above normal have often been noted. So while higher estrogen levels can help girls control their facial hair growth, having a completely hairless, permanent face is foolish for anyone!

Also read:Why don't some men grow beards?

evolutionary stories

Humans' unusual hairlessness compared to our closest living relatives, the chimpanzee, continues to puzzle researchers studying human history. Why did we lose all this hair? So far they have come up with a number of theories that try to answer this question.

The discussion, like any good discussion of evolution, begins with Darwin. In 1871 Darwin wrote a book entitled The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. In the book Darwin looks at man through an evolutionary lens and speaks of one aspect of evolutionEvolutioncalled sexual selection.

Darwin defined sexual selection as "the advantage which certain individuals have over others of the same sex and species, with respect to reproduction only". That means certain traits are sexier than others. This would be a lioness who would prefer to mate with a lion with a larger mane. Or a male deer with larger antlers taking the female. All these flashy accessories are not essential for the animal's survival. Rather, these accessories testify to the quality of theADN. A larger mane on a lion says to the lioness: “This lion is strong and hisADNit will also strengthen my future children.” If you've seen a National Geographic wildlife documentary, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Darwin suggested that prehistoric men preferred women with less hair. He came to this conclusion based on the fact that women are naturally less hairy than men. Males also became less hairy due to the inevitable genetic mixing. It has been claimed for generations that this is what caused people to have the weird nudity they see today. These suggestions had an impact on how Victorian men and women felt about their body hair.

Aside from being sexist, the theory fails to identify what caused the hair loss in the first place. What Causes Women to Start Getting Less Hairy? Why less hair would be more attractive? There are several theories competing for the trophy of being "the answer". But none of them tell the whole story.

The most popular theory today is the "African savannah man theory". The theory proposed by Raymond Dart, a South African anthropologist and anatomist, states that having fewer hairs was an advantage for hominids that had started hunting in the African savannas.

The skin is an insulator. Locks in heat to keep pets warm when outside temperatures get too hot. In the direct heat of the savannah, somewhere where chimpanzees and apes don't live, early hominids needed a way to cool off. The best way to do this would be to lose hair and develop sweat glands. Humans sweat much more than any other animal. Only the horse has a comparable sweating performance.

Look atGenesupports the theory. AStudy 2001discovered that the hair keratin Pseudogene Iϕ OwnerIt has functional versions (orthologs) in chimpanzees that make them hairy. The study proves thatGenit may have been inactivated when the first humans split from the chimpanzees.

Another study conducted inFound in 2004a variant ofMC1R Gen. The gene variant that is said to be important for the darker skin color of humans was already present 1.2 million years ago. Skin darkening would not have occurred if people had not lost hair.

Other theories are less popular and have several loopholes. One theory is that people became less hairy because it made them more sensitive to ectoparasites like bed bugs. Another theory proposed by James Giles is that less hair increases skin-to-skin contact between mother and child. This increased the mother's breeding over her offspring, resulting in fewer hair selections. The males became less hairy due to DNA mixing along the way. Neither of them have genetic evidence to support them.

In search of smooth skin

Although humans are naturally hairless, history tells us that we started to get rid of hair artificially. The Egyptians, the ancient pioneers of beauty treatments, shaved their head and body hair. The Romans also associated a lack of body hair with higher class and social status. They used flint razors, shell tweezers, pumice stones, waxes such as beeswax, and other sugar waxes (it is believed that Cleopatra used sugar-based wax to remove her hair).

By the time the Middle Ages rolled around, hair removal and makeup trends had gotten even weirder. Elizabeth I was what we would call a fashion icon of her time. He is believed to have popularized the shaving of the eyebrows and hair from the forehead in order to have a longer and larger eyebrow.

As mentioned above, Darwin's theory of evolution and sexual selection really captured the imagination of the Victorian public. It was from Darwin's work that the waxing moved from hygienic issues and class dynamics to an idea that defined the difference between masculinity and femininity. Rebecca Herzig, a professor of gender and sexuality, points to Darwin's 1871 book, The Descent of Man, which, as I mentioned earlier, caused women to turn against their facial hair.

Darwin's book not only introduced the idea of ​​sexual selection, but also justified much of human attitudes toward hair through an evolutionary lens. He argues that a hairy body becomes a breeding ground for parasites and lice. So, a hairless face implies more hygiene and attractiveness, making a woman with a clean face the preferred option for mating.

Darwin's work ondescent of manIt had its roots in the traditions of comparative racial anatomy, and its theory of evolution confirmed that the associations of hair with "primitive" ancestors and hairiness in females were implicit in "less evolved" forms of living things. Herzig believes that after Darwin's work was published, hair became a physical fitness issue.

Anthropologists, following Darwin's work, explained that hair is one of the external factors in clarifying the distinction between masculinity and femininity. Fewer hair in women indicated a "greater anthropological evolution" that made hair in women an anomaly. Women themselves associate removing facial and body hair with feeling feminine (Fuente)

In a research study conducted in the 1890s examining insanity in women, it was claimed that 271 cases of insanity in women were related to excessive facial hair. Also, these supposedly "crazy" women had thicker, stiffer hair. Havelock Ellis, a renowned scholar of human sexuality, explained that abundant hair growth in women is often associated with criminal violence, strong sexual instincts, and unforgiveness.power animal.

But many of these attitudes are the product of the zeitgeist prevailing in a culture. Afsaneh Najmabadi, a Harvard professor of gender and sexuality, echoed Herzig's point. During her research, Najmabadi discovered that 18th-century literature on many occasions depicted Iranian women with bushy eyebrows and thin mustaches. In fact, these features were considered so attractive that renowned artists sometimes painted them on or enhanced them with mascara. He noted that until the early 19th century, the gender distinction in portraits of lovers was very vague and it sometimes became difficult to distinguish between males and females!

In the early 20th century, facial hair was a major cause of discomfort for women in the United States. Her desire for smooth, clean, white skin was insatiable. They wanted to be feminine, and having a hairless face was a case in point for feminism. in his bookPluck, Herzig explained how, in a very short time, facial hair became despicable to middle-class American women: removing it seemed a necessity in order to separate from the coarser atavistic human community.

Women began using pumice stones or sandpaper to remove facial and body hair in the 1930s and 1940s, but this often caused irritation and scabbing. Koremlu, a thallium acetate-based cream, haunted young women's cosmetic kits in the 1930s. Although Koremlu advertised itself as a safe and permanent hair removal cream, it was made from thallium acetate, which is actually a rat.Gift! Thousands of unsuspecting women were struggling with serious health problems and the wilted cream claimed the lives of several women. Koremlu managed to remove the hair, but it had serious health consequences, including blindness, damaged limbs, and in the worst case, death.

Why don't women wear/grow beards? (1)

Also read:When did humans start shaving and why?

grow cost

Facial and body hair removal is ubiquitous in the modern female population. According to a study, more than 99% of American women voluntarily remove facial or body hair. Hair removal is of course quite expensive!

Other studies have found that American women typically spend more than $10,000 to shave their hair over a lifetime. That cost can climb to a whopping $23,000 for women from more affluent backgrounds who use wax to wax instead of shaving. These hair removal habits, especially facial hair, are not limited to the US; Women of different races, ethnicities and nationalities would agree that having a smooth, fair and hairless face is almost "mandatory" for them.

But more and more women are reclaiming their hair. Current trends, like glowing armpits or dying armpit hair a bright color, are ways many women are rebelling against the standards that have been imposed on them for 100 years of history. Body positive activists urge women to love themselves in every form, with or without hair. Although most women still shave, wax, thread, pluck and rub their hair, there is a shift in the demand for more acceptance.

References (click to enlarge)
  1. Women with mustaches and men without beards: gender .... The University of California Press
  2. (1932, March). About understanding women. Maria R Barbara. Social Service review. University of Chicago Press.
  3. Darwin C (2011). The Descent of Man. Independent publishing platform CreateSpace
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