One issue that most women grapple with is that of body hair. Our beauty parameters tell us that body hair on women looks ugly… and since most of us look at our body hair as a useless remnant of our evolutionary process, we do not think twice about getting rid of them. This obsession with ‘hairless’ arms, legs, faces, underarms etc spawns and supports a thriving beauty industry. Interestingly, no one has any objection to body hair on men; they are free to flaunt their hairy bodies, and perhaps are secretly ashamed if they have scant body hair (not macho enough).
Like most other women I know, I have used every implement – razor, wax, creams, pumice stone etc – to get rid of my body hair. However, since past couple of years, I have not only started questioning every societal parameter, but also started believing more in nature’s wisdom – and hence, have started respecting my body hair.
I realize that while humans think of many organs as vestigial (useless relics of evolution) it is not really so. Nature doesn’t promote anything that is of no use – and that includes human body hair.
New scientific research tells us that a human body is home to roughly 10 times as many bacteria as human cells. If we were to look at our skin with a powerful microscope, we will see all kinds of bacteria crawling all over us. While it may sound (and look) gross, these bacterial colonies are there for a reason; and that reason – broadly- is to ensure that we remain healthy. Each bacteria has a specific function in keeping us healthy.
Each kind of bacteria lives in its own habitat – and cannot survive in another (exactly like it happens on Earth). Hence, the bacterial colony that lives in hair follicles cannot survive in sebaceous glands or vice-versa. By removing our hair-follicles, we are destroying the habitat of some very important microbial populations (exactly what we are doing on Earth by cutting down the trees) – without considering the harmful long term effect on our health.
If we wish to remain healthy, we need to have a complete microbiome (community of microorganisms), which means that we need to preserve all the habitats that skin micro-organisms need – including our body hair.