53% of US adults are unlikely to hire a woman for a public-facing job who has hair on her face
When I shave my legs, is it an aesthetic personal choice, or a subtle form of gendered social control instilled in me since my mother bought me my first razor? The question may at first seem overly critical and inconsequential, but very serious debates over body hair have been waged via social media over the past few years. In particular, many women have voiced their desire to challenge societal norms dictating that hair on a woman—excluding that on her head—negates femininity and beauty.
New data from YouGov suggests that there is indeed a sizable disparity between how society views body hair on women versus men. When it comes to female grooming, the majority of US adults, 70%, agree that women being hairy is a bad thing. However, when it comes to men, opinions are much less clear-cut. More respondents were unsure how they felt about male hairiness (44%) than thought it was either distinctly good or bad (31% and 25%).
US adults are also largely in agreement that a hairy woman is not a hirable woman. US adults are more unlikely than likely to hire a woman for a public-facing role if she has hair on her armpits (36% unlikely to hire, 33% likely), legs (36% unlikely, 34% likely) or face (53% unlikely to hire, 20% likely).
Millennials are noticeably more open to hairiness than older adults, with 19% thinking that women being hairy is a positive (compared to just 8% of those between the ages of 35 and 54). However, despite their progressive thinking, millennials are actually more likely than any other age group to remove hair from their genitals, arms, chest, and back.
Millennials are particularly more pro pubic hair removal than those over the age of 55, perhaps indicating the time period during which waxing/shaving one’s nether regions became a fad—46% of millennials think that women should remove hair from their genitals, as compared to 21% of people 55+.
When it comes to trimming pubic hair, there is also a clear double-standard—41% of men believe that women should be hairless down below, but only 28% of men think that men should remove hair from their genitals. The numbers are unsurprising given PopSugar’s 2015 article which featured a series of anonymous quotes from men exposing how they really felt about pubic hair on ladies—the general consensus seemed to be the less, the better.
The comments on PopSugar were brutally honest, yet data shows that the opposite sex isn’t always the most critical. In fact, women are more likely than men to think that women should shave their armpits and legs, and men are more likely to think that other men should shave their pubic hair, face, arms and legs.