Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Heather E. Dillaway


Body hair removal is a behavior that is taken for granted by many women in the United States. Existing feminist literature suggests that body hair removal is a major component of societal norms. This study aimed to contribute to the literature by exploring the social factors that influence the extent of women's depilation from public/visible body areas and private/hidden body areas, and the number of depilatory methods utilized. A total of 303 female students from Wayne State University completed questionnaires asking about their attitudes towards body hair/hair removal. It was confirmed that the vast majority (291 or 96%) remove their body hair, whereas only 12 participants (4%) did not remove body hair. Because most sample participants were removers, statistical analyses are completed on this group only. Bivariate procedures were undertaken to examine whether women's social background characteristics, bodily routines, attitudes towards beauty/body hair, knowledge of and/or experiences with social rewards/consequences, and socialization towards hairlessness norms influenced the extent of participants' depilation from public/private body areas. Participants' open-ended comments were utilized to supplement and explain most of the statistical results found in this study. Multivariate techniques further examined the effects of these social factors on types of depilation, but a third dependent variable, the number of depilatory methods used, was assessed as well. Findings reveal that women in this study remove hair from more public body areas than private body areas. Additionally, and with some caution, women's socialization to hairlessness norms influenced both the extent of their depilation from public areas and the number of depilatory methods they reported using, and greater numbers of negative attitudes towards body hair influenced the extent of women's depilation from public body areas. Overall, however, it was concluded that the social contexts evaluated in this study did not play an influential role in determining the extent of participants' depilation from private body areas.