Glabrousness

Glabrousness

Glabrousness (from Latin glaber = bald, hairless) is the technical term for an anatomically abnormal lack of hair or down. This may be due to a physical condition, such as alopecia universalis, which causes hair to fall out and/or prevents its growth. More commonly, glabrousness is a result of culturally-motivated hair removal by depilation (surface removal by shaving or dissolving) or epilation (removal of the entire hair, such as waxing or plucking).

Acomoclitism (from Greek κομη = hair, negation prefix α-, and κλιτικος = having a preference, from κλινειν = to lean, κλιτυς = a slope) is the technical term for a preference for hairless genitals. The related adjective describing anyone with this preference is acomoclitic.

In botany and mycology, glabrous is an adjective used to describe a morphological feature as smooth, glossy, having no hair or bristles or glaucousness (see also indumentum). Tactile sensitivity is greatest on glabrous skin.

Aesthetic removal and fashion

Although the appearance of secondary hair on parts of the body is a sign of puberty, in Western cultures it is socially accepted, often encouraged, for women to remove body hair (as hairlessness is considered feminine and often youthful); and for men to shave their faces. Commonly depilated areas are the underarms, face, arms and legs; pubic hair may be partially or entirely removed, and at times individuals even depilate areas which are typically left alone, such as the forearms. Conversely, people who oppose the social concepts behind these practices will forgo them, whether for personal satisfaction or to make a public statement. In recent years, bodily depilation has increased in popularity among Western males.

As with any cosmetic practice, the particulars of hair removal have changed over the years. Western female depilation has waxed and waned throughout history and has been significantly influenced by the evolution of clothing in the past century. Leg and underarm shaving became popular again in Western Society with the advent of off-the-shoulder dresses, higher hemlines and transparent stockings. The reduction of the minimum acceptable standards for bodily coverage over the years has resulted in the exposure of more flesh, giving rise to even more extensive hair removal.

At present, this has resulted in the Brazilian waxing trend, a term used to describe the partial or full removal of pubic hair, as the thongs worn on Brazilian beaches are too small to conceal very much of it. Indeed, a culture is now emerging around "intimate shaving" and other hair-removal options geared specifically around the pubic area. What was once kept a personal secret is now discussed more openly, though still in carefully non-explicit language, in magazines and on television.

Religion, subculture, and other influences

In ancient Egypt, depilation was commonly practiced to prevent infestation by lice. Typically, tweezers were used to pluck out individual hairs. In both Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, the removal of body and pubic hair was common with both men and women, especially in artistic depictions of male and female nudity. One example can be seen in the red figure pottery of Ancient Grecce in which both men and women were depicted without body hair and pubic hair.

The majority of Muslims believe that the Sunnah, and part of the Fitrah, directs all adults to remove pubic hair and underarm hair as a hygienic measure.

Baptized Sikhs are specifically instructed never to cut, shave, or otherwise remove any hair on their bodies; this is a major tenet of the Sikh faith (see Kesh).

In Japan, it is commonplace for women to shave their underarm hair, but not to shave or even trim their pubic hair beyond the requirements of swimwear, etc. The culture of public baths (onsen or sentō) could discourage anyone so inclined, since shaved pubic hair has long been recognized as a sign of extreme sexuality. The fact that Japanese pornography laws originally banned the display of pubic hair per se also indicates that pubic hair is appreciated as an erotic feature in Japanese culture. Traditionally, erotic display in Japan has concentrated more on suggestive concealment rather than nudity which may still be considered commonplace.

In the clothes free movement, the term "smoothie" is often used to describe an acomoclitic individual. In the past, such open displays were frowned upon and in some cases, members of clothes-free clubs were actually forbidden to remove their pubic hair: violators could face exclusion from the club. Others have grouped together and formed societies of their own. Depilation has become popular over the past 30 years with smoothies becoming a major percentage at many nudist venues.The first Smoothie club (TSC) was founded by a British couple in 1991. The Dutch branch was founded in 1993 in order to give the idea of a hairless body greater publicity in the Netherlands. This form of total nudity is described by its supporters as exceptionally comfortable and liberating. The Smoothy-Club is also a branch of the World of the Nudest Nudist (WNN) and organizes nudist ship cruises and nudist events every month. Every year in spring the club organizes the international Smoothy days. In the UK the SCN Naturist Club for "Smooth Ladies and Smooth and Circumcised Gentlemen" was formed in 1996. Although the SCN club closed in 2001 after five successful years, its well respected SCN website continues to promote the club's original ideals.

Athletes may depilate as an enhancement to their abilities. For example, male and female competitive swimmers often remove their body hair and pubic hair in order to help streamline their bodies and to allow their swimsuits to fit closer to their bodies.

Glabrous skin

On the human body, glabrous skin is skin that is hairless. It is found on fingers, palmar surfaces of hands, soles of feet, lips, labia minora and penis.

Tinea corporis is a mycosis that targets glabrous skin.

There are four main types of mechanoreceptors in the glabrous skin of humans; Pacinian corpuscles, Meissner's corpuscles, Merkel's discs, and Ruffini corpuscles.

See also

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