Manscaping is more popular than ever - and if James Bond emerged from the ocean with a hairy torso, today's woman might throw him back.
The first study of hair removal practices in New Zealand has untangled some surprising new trends, with male hair removal going through a period of rapid change.
And when it comes to female grooming, there are signs that "bush is back".
In line with the increasingly "metrosexual" tendencies of the modern male, the Auckland University study found young Kiwi blokes are removing hair from multiple areas of their bodies.
Of the 584 participants aged 18-35 in the survey-based study, 64 per cent thought it was socially acceptable for men to remove body hair and 99 per cent of men had removed hair before.
"It has become a relatively mundane, normalised, unquestioned part of many [Western] women's lives, and this may be starting to be the case for some men, too," researchers said.
Changing norms for male attractiveness could could be seen in the hair display of actors who have played Bond.
While Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan often had clean-shaven faces, these were offset by hairy chests.
This was in contrast to the hairless body but often stubbled face of current Bond Daniel Craig, researchers said.
Waxnlaser owner Roger Thomas said more men were coming in for brazilians, body waxes and laser treatment as less hair was considered more attractive.
But men still made up only a small percentage of their clientele, about 10 per cent.
"It's generally because someone else wants them to get it done, generally a female. We also get the newly single, back on the market."
Urban Sanctuary director Jo Watson said its male hair removal clientele was steady - and there was a marked increase in the popularity of facials, eyebrow shaping, and body treatments for men.
But she doubted they broadcast their appointments. "I don't think they tell their friends at the golf course or the pub, I think they keep it quiet. They come in very discreetly."
The To let hair be, or to not let hair be? study found hair removal was still heavily gender-based, with only 11 per cent saying it was OK for women to be au-naturale, compared with 81 per cent for men.
Women's hair removal was a strongly "socially policed" activity - and those who did not remove hair risked negative reactions.
Only 34 per cent said a hairy back was OK on men.
Researchers also found the perception of many women that men liked the "brazilian" wax appeared unfounded, with almost three-quarters of men saying pubic hair was desirable.
However, it was unclear whether this meant a natural amount of hair, or some trimming, or bikini-line waxing. More research was need to unravel whether "bush is back", the authors said.
Women were more likely to be influenced by friends, while men took cues from pornography and the internet.
81 per cent of people thought it was socially acceptable for men to have body hair
11 per cent thought body hair in its natural state was acceptable for women
Almost all participants had removed some hair in their lifetime (99 per cent)
For women the most common areas of hair removal were lower legs (97 per cent), armpits (96 per cent) and the pubic area (86 per cent)
For men, the most common area of hair removal was the face (89 per cent), followed by the pubic region (78 per cent) and chest (59 per cent)
- © Fairfax NZ News
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