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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Her suit

Aaaand - back with our regular programming. This one could offend the squeamish - so be warned.

We recently had a heatwave (In Chicagospeak, that means we could feel all our parts), and as if to celebrate, the shorts came out in force for a week. Its interesting to observe that while men feel absolutely no embarrassment in displaying their foliated lower limbs to the general public, women wouldn't be caught dead in those outfits without a session with Mr. Gillette.

Many men I know have expressed surprise when informed that women are not naturally hairless. Yes, it is true that they grow less hair and less coarse hair than men do, but variablility across women is incredibly high. So while some get away easily, there are some who spend a significant fraction of their waking hours with scary-looking implements for cutting, tweezing or even yanking (OUCH). See what Belle de Jour has to say about it.

Even if we grant that the women have less to yank, I will just ask my fellow men to think back to the last time a razor malfunction cause a single moustache hair to be yanked out by the roots. Painful, wasn't it? Now think about a few hundred follicles being uprooted at the same time (YOWITCH). Over the entire body (OWOWOWOWOW). Weekly (AAAAAARGHGHHHH). Sometimes more often (STOP STOP STOP).

So why, why, why do they subject themselves to it?
Is it yet another conspiracy by a patriarchal society that seeks to force women to conform with unnatural expectations of external attractiveness, thereby further suppressing their ability to formulate independent expression? I am reminded of a legal eagle who, in her school days, had distracted her team to quizzing success on more than one occasion, thanks to a pair of legs which were a sight for sore eyes. Rumour has it that thereafter she chose to rebel against male notions of female beauty and left the aforementioned limbs in their natural state as a sign of protest.

Or is there more to it? Evolutionary biologists suggest that men's preference for silky smooth skin is a manifestation of an evolutionary instinct to choose a mate who is likely to ensure the safety of her child. Body hair tends to attract dirt (especially in a cave), and becomes a breeding ground for unfortunate diseases which could jeopardise the life of both mother and child. So clean sweet-smelling women just tended to be better suited to the task of keeping the human race alive.

And then we come to the next question - if depilation such a good thing, why have the men not bothered. Frankly, Salman Khan notwithstanding, men across the world keep their God-given overgrowth - like their cards - close to their chest.

And not without reason - the India Today Sex Survey reveals that 42% of women surveyed felt that a well-foliated torso was the most sexually attractive feature in a man (Aside - HAHAHAHA! Eat your heart out suckers!). What is that all about? Evolution, we are told designed men's bodies so that their more vital organs would be encased in a protective coat of armour, when they went to hunt the friendly neighbourhood sabre-tooth. Therefore, women were evolutionarily conditioned to be attracted to men who were more likely to return home alive from the hunt and so they developed a fascination for breastplates.

However, I believe that even Anil Kapoor would have difficulty stopping a .35 with his bare chest, so thats quite irrelevant nowadays. Why then do women retain their odd fascination? The only explanation I can think of is that evolutionary forces act much faster on men than on women - three times as fast, in fact. So women's tastes evolve at a much slower rate then men. So we might eventually see our grandsons fussing over the new Braun model in an attempt to win their ladys' hearts. But that isn't something we need to worry about.

And if the women think thats unfair - please also note that the average human male, in his lifetime, grows as much hair on his face alone as the average human female grows on her ENTIRE body (except her scalp), in her lifetime. So seriously, its just infeasible, unless you're an egoistical lunatic with lots of time and money to spare - or a Bollywood actor - which, come to think of it, is basically the same thing.