Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Things Are Getting Hairy. Or Not.

Those of you who have been longtime readers of this blog have learned a lot of quasi-interesting things about ol' Bilbo, one of which is that I think it's very sexy for a woman to have hairy arms. It's an odd preference, to be sure, but at least I'm not burdened with lots of competition.

Which leads us to today's topic, suggested by this interesting article by Cecil Adams from the Straight Dope website: Why Do Humans Have So Little Body Hair? This is not a question of as much significance as "Why are ultraconservative Republicans so crazy," but one which is nevertheless of more than passing interest. The article explores four theories:

1. We’re sexier with no hair. This one grows out of Darwinian theories which suggest that hairlessness might be a factor in sexual selection (that is, men - who are generally the pursuers and generally have more body hair - prefer mates with significantly different physical appearance). As you might suspect, I don't buy this one.

2. Lack of hair makes it easier to cool off. This theory suggests that as we emerged from the colder temperatures of the ice ages and the environment warmed up, it was easier for humans to shed excess heat if they didn't have lots of body hair to trap it close to the skin. If this theory is true, the current trend of global warming should have us all looking like china dolls before long.

3. Humans are descended from aquatic apes. According to this theory, our ancestors were apes that spent a lot of time in the water, and gradually lost their excess body hair as a way of streamlining their bodies to swim more efficiently. This theory has been pretty well debunked, although we still see professional competitive swimmers go to great lengths to eliminate all their body hair in order to shave* a few hundredths of a second from their speeds.

4. Less hair helps to limit places for parasites to breed. This is a plausible theory, but given that we still suffer from fleas, head lice, and politicians, it's probably not completely accurate.

The truth is that nobody really knows the answer to this question. The article goes on to suggest that humans' mastery and use of fire for warmth, plus the development of clothing for warmth and protection, made copious body hair unnecessary. 

Who knows?

All I know is that we have a love-hate relationship with our body hair. Women love fur coats, but invest heavily in depilatories. They eliminate as much natural body hair as possible, but then invest in often-hideous tattoos and garish piercings. If you can figure it out, let me know.

And that's it for today. I leave you with this quote from noted social philosopher, deep thinker, and professional celebrity Kim Kardashian - "I am Armenian, so of course I am obsessed with laser hair removal! Arms, bikini, legs, underarms... my entire body is hairless."


Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


* Sorry about that.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

Women removing underm and leg hair probably was a cultural product of wearing clothing that bared those surfaces. Likewise, bikini waxing is a product of women wearing tinier and tinier swimsuits. Let's face it -- the esthetic effect of wearing a string bikini is lessened if there's tell-tale hair seen around the edges!

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I prefer a man who has hair.
Call me old fashioned.
I hate the "men" today who are waxed like a Ken Doll. If I liked that look I'd be a lesbian. So plesae bring back the hairy chested man with hair on his legs!! Ok prefer no back hair but still better than a Ken Doll.

Mike said...

There is a PBS show that talks about finding out when humans lost most of their body hair by the genetic differences in the parasites on the head and in the pubic region.

The Bastard King of England said...

Now we know practically all there is to know about Kim Kardashian.