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How can a heterosexual man remove his body hair and retain his masculinity? Mapping stories of male body hair depilation

Clarke, Victoria; Braun, Virginia


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Dr Victoria Clarke
Associate Professor in Qualitative & Critical Psychology

Virginia Braun


© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This study explores the gendered body hair removal norm and the meanings of male body hair by examining young people’s sense-making around male body hair removal. The novel technique of story completion was used to collect data from 102 psychology undergraduates. They were presented with a story “stem” featuring a young man (David) deciding to start body hair removal and asked to complete the stem. David was most often portrayed as a young heterosexual man who was excessively hairy, in the “wrong” places, was often subject to teasing and bullying, and was concerned about his diminished sexual capital. Hair removal did not always end “happily ever after” for David. While in some stories he “got the girl,” he was punished for his vanity and foolishness in others. These different endings arguably reflect currently ambivalent meanings around male body hair depilation. The production of a hairless, or less hairy, male body is both desirable and a potential threat to masculinity. The data spoke strongly to the power of social norms surrounding body hair practices and suggest that story completion provides a useful tool in interrogating the discourses that sustain these norms.


Clarke, V., & Braun, V. (2019). How can a heterosexual man remove his body hair and retain his masculinity? Mapping stories of male body hair depilation. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 16(1), 96-114.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 12, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 29, 2018
Publication Date Jan 2, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 12, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 29, 2019
Journal Qualitative Research in Psychology
Print ISSN 1478-0887
Electronic ISSN 1478-0895
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 1
Pages 96-114
Keywords metrosexual, projective techniques, qualitative research, story completion, story mapping, thematic analysis
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Qualitative Research in Psychology on 29th November 2018, available online:


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