A qualitative exploration into how British and Spanish women relate to perceived norms of femininity through body hair removal, and how this practice impacts on the perception of their own identity and gender.
Echeverria Monreal, Itsaso
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This study explores why British and Spanish women remove their body hair in relation to the concepts of femininity, gender and identity. The expected outcome of my study was that by questioning the normativity of women´s hairlessness, I would discover the socio-political implications behind the practice of depilation. This study is divided into four chapters. The first chapter is an introduction to the study and outlines the two stages of research that I chose to undertake. The second section, “Qualitative and Academic Research Process”, focuses on extensive historical research of the practice of hair removal and the in-depth analysis of the interviews carried out amongst ten British and Spanish women. This was done in order to contextualise and underpin the practical element of this study: to compare the findings of the practical exploration with the data gathered from the interviews. The third section was the “Practical Exploration as a research methodology and a process towards creating performance material”, where I used on my own body as a primary tool of exploration. This was done in order to record, verify and reflect upon the different perceptions I could elicit from my shaved and unshaved body and create a performance afterwards where I could present the findings to an audience. This part of the process, including the performance, was documented using video and photography. After the performance, the audience members were asked to fill a questionnaire and the feedback gathered is also discussed in this section. The fourth and final chapter is the conclusion, where I reflect on the study, the methodology used and its outcomes, deducing that the practice of hair removal is not a mere individual choice but that women are indeed socially pressured to fit into a constructed gender normativity, namely the hairless, and thus, “feminine” body. *All participants in the process have been given an information sheet and a consent form beforehand and all interviews and questionnaires are available upon request.