Glabrousness: Giving Smoothies a Whole New Meaning

Donna Kim-Brand

Glabrousness is defined as the technical term for an anatomically atypical lack of hair, either from natural causes,  due to a physical condition such as ‘alopecia universalis’, or by artificial means of hair removal such as plucking, waxing, shaving or depilation.

On the human body, glabrous skin is external skin that is naturally hairless, like on your palms and the underside of your fingers, inside lips, on the soles of your feet and inside genital regions. However, the definition is more widely applied today.

This odd term has recently been used more widely in the fashion industry, in terms of hair removal as a means of cultural expression. While hair on secondary body parts represents a rite of passage to puberty and looming adulthood, it follows that ritual removal of this and all hair is significant in a variety of ways, religiously and culturally.

In certain cultures, men are required to grow their beards or are not ‘allowed’ to cut their hair until marriage. Keeping beards and hair is also a religiously significant symbol in some traditions. Same with women- some cultures require ‘maidens’ to keep their hair long as a signal they are ‘untouched’, and are required to cut or shave their hair as a sign of womanhood at marriage and also to prevent other men from being attracted to their seductive hair.

Of course, there has always been a bit of tension between Europeans and Hippie-types who espoused natural hairiness as beautiful and Americans and model-types who used every type of depilatory method available to express glabrous beauty- shaving, waxing, plucking and applying dissolving depilatory creams- to be rid of underarm hair, leg hair, bikini-line hair and sometimes full pubic area hair removal.

In ancient times, hair was often removed for less glamourous reasons, such as preventing the spread of lice or promoting hygiene. In modern times, the practice of shaving forearms, leg and chest hair was attributed both to gay male fashion and to athletic figures seeking to reduce friction in their various sports where streamlined aerodynamics was important; swimming and cycling being two of the most prominent for this practice.

A new one on me was the nudist, or ‘clothes free’ movement, where some clubs required and other clubs forbade glabrousness of their members. The term ‘smoothie’ is used to describe a member who has removed most, if not all, of their body hair.

So whether you are hairless from alopecia or by using artificial means of depilation, you certainly won’t lack adventure, that’s for sure.

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