Plucked: a history of hair removal-Rebecca M. Herzig
An exploration of attitudes and methods of hair removal in North America.
As a Western female, I have been told all sorts of stories about my hairiness and why the ‘unsightly’ hair must be removed. It should come as no surprise that many of these stories have been wildly contradictory and/or told to me by people who are naturally far less hairy than me and/or men. Not all the messages have been bad but the overwhelming majority of messages about body hair is to have just the right amount. So, when I saw this book, I picked it up because I like to intellectualize my problems. I was hoping to get a better measure of why these attitudes to body hair exist and Herzig delivers, detailing how attitudes have changed and situates attitudes towards hair removal within social contexts. This is not a self-help or how-to guide but a very well researched academic treatise talking about attitudes towards body hair. The more modern chapters were things I already knew but the earlier chapters were fascinating though be forewarned-this is hair removal in North America. Herzig is not out to entertain but she is also not needlessly pedantic or bogging the reader down in details and often allows herself some dry wit so this is very readable. She stays on the objective side of research until her concluding chapter which made me want to go hang out with her. I was pleasantly surprised by this book and I feel better having read it-history can be academic AND fun.