Monday, February 02, 2009
Can Somebody Tell Me: Why Humans Shave?
Henceforth on Mondays, I'd like to have a burning question of the day to track down the answer to. And I'd like for those questions to come from you. The question can be on any subject you choose, and may be as outlandish as you wish. There is an answer to every question and, together, we'll ferret them out. I, of course, by simple process of elimination, had to come up with today's query. I am hopeful that your innate curiosity will provide fodder for next week and the weeks after that.
So, today's Can Somebody Tell Me question -- why do we human beings shave off our body hair?
Human beings, like many other animals, are naturally hirsute. We have body hair, albeit our pelts are not as thick and luxurious as those of early humans. We grow hair not only on our heads but all over our bodies. Hair grows everywhere on the human body except the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, eyelids, and lips. I'm sure it serves a number of natural purposes.
In the armpits and pubic areas, for example, hair tends to serve as a lubricant between two patches of skin that would otherwise rub together uncomfortably. Unfortunately, these two areas can also originate body odor, which might be a good reason for keeping the hair at a minimum. It's true that over millennia, humans have lost much of their body hair, making us virtually hairless primates. Still, most of us have leg and arm hair, and men have hairy faces, chests and, sometimes (ugh!), backs. We won't even address those unseemly tufts of hair that sprout from the occasional human's ears and noses.
What I'm wondering is, when and why did we (the collective we) decide to start shaving off what little body hair we have left? Many men shave their faces every day, and women regularly shave their legs and arm pits. Some anthropologists believe hair removal is a primal message to the opposite sex, the lack of hair making it easier to prove and/or show off that he or she is free of ticks, mites, lice, and other less than charming parasites and afflictions which, perforce, makes one more desirable.
What's your theory? Why do we spend big bucks on creams, potions, razors, depilatories, electrolysis, etc., to keep ourselves hair-free?
I am not happy with the Groundhog. In fact, I'm looking for stew recipes. Happy Groundhog Day, anyway.