Plucked

Plucked

A History of Hair Removal

Book - 2015
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New York Univ Pr
From the clamshell razors and homemade lye depilatories used in colonial America to the diode lasers and prescription pharmaceuticals available today, Americans have used a staggering array of tools to remove hair deemed unsightly, unnatural, or excessive. This is true especially for women and girls; conservative estimates indicate that 99% of American women have tried hair removal, and at least 85% regularly remove hair from their faces, armpits, legs, and bikini lines. How and when does hair become a problem—what makes some growth “excessive”? Who or what separates the necessary from the superfluous?
 
In Plucked, historian Rebecca Herzig addresses these questions about hair removal. She shows how, over time, dominant American beliefs about visible hair changed: where once elective hair removal was considered a “mutilation” practiced primarily by “savage” men, by the turn of the twentieth century, hair-free faces and limbs were expected for women. Visible hair growth—particularly on young, white women—came to be perceived as a sign of political extremism, sexual deviance, or mental illness. By the turn of the twenty-first century, more and more Americans were waxing, threading, shaving, or lasering themselves smooth. Herzig’s extraordinary account also reveals some of the collateral damages of the intensifying pursuit of hair-free skin. Moving beyond the experiences of particular patients or clients, Herzig describes the surprising histories of race, science, industry, and medicine behind today's hair-removing tools. Plucked is an unsettling, gripping, and original tale of the lengths to which Americans will go to remove hair.


Baker & Taylor
A cultural historian explores the history of Americans' changing attitudes towards hair removal, discussing how it was once viewed as a “mutilation” practiced by “savage” men to being expected of women, lest they be viewed as mentally ill or sexually deviant.

Book News
Herzig offers this history of hair removal, tracing the Western view of the practice from exotic savagery to an expected and even liberating experience. After an introduction reviewing the issues to be addressed and pointing out the age-old use of forcible (as opposed to voluntary) hair removal as social control, the first two chapters contrast the apparent perplexity of Europeans at Native American hair removal practices with the soon-following surge in chemical depilatory techniques and its popularization and standardization in the Industrial Revolution. The influence of Darwinism on a shift toward women’s preference for hairless skin, and the various cultural factors and medical discoveries accelerating this trend are discussed. The second half of the book deals with recent and present treatment of the issue: political views on body hair associated with feminism and the discourse on pornography and sexual exploitation, and new high-tech options available for hair removal, such as laser treatment, or upcoming, such as genetic therapies. The conclusion summarizes the trajectory of hair removal from a culturally stratified to a highly individualized choice. Annotation ©2015 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)

Baker
& Taylor

Explores the history of Americans' changing attitudes towards hair removal, discussing how it was once viewed as a mutilation practiced by savage men to being expected of women, lest they be viewed as mentally ill or sexually deviant.
"From the clamshell razors and homemade lye depilatories used in colonial America to the diode lasers and prescription pharmaceuticals available today, Americans have used a staggering array of tools to remove hair deemed unsightly, unnatural, or excessive. This is true especially for women and girls; conservative estimates indicate that 99% of American women have tried hair removal, and at least 85% regularly remove hair from their faces, armpits, legs, and bikini lines. How and when does hair become aproblem--what makes some growth "excessive"? Who or what separates the necessary from the superfluous? In Plucked, historian Rebecca Herzig addresses these questions about hair removal. She shows how, over time, dominant American beliefs about visible hair changed: where once elective hair removal was considered a "mutilation" practiced primarily by "savage" men, by the turn of the twentieth century, hair-free faces and limbs were expected for women. Visible hair growth--particularly on young, white women--came to be perceived as a sign of political extremism, sexual deviance, or mental illness. By the turn of the twenty-first century, more and more Americans were waxing, threading, shaving, or lasering themselves smooth. Herzig's extraordinary account also reveals some of the collateral damages of the intensifying pursuit of hair-free skin. Moving beyond the experiences of particular patients or clients, Herzig describes the surprising histories of race, science, industry, and medicine behind today's hair-removing tools. Plucked is an unsettling, gripping, and original tale of the lengths to which Americans will go to remove hair"--

Publisher: New York :, New York University Press,, 2015
ISBN: 9781479840823
1479840823
Characteristics: vii, 287 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

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