Glabrousness (from the Latin glaber meaning "bald", "hairless", "shaved", "smooth") is the technical term for a lack of hair, down, setae, trichomes or other such covering. A glabrous surface may be a natural characteristic of all or part of a plant or animal, or be due to loss because of a physical condition, such as alopecia universalis in humans, which causes hair to fall out or not regrow. Humans may also intentionally remove some or all of their body hair for a variety of cultural reasons.
In botany and mycology, a glabrous morphological feature is smooth, glossy, having no trichomes (bristles or hair-like structures), or glaucousness (see also indumentum). No plants have hair, although some structures may resemble it. Glabrous features may be an important means of identifying flora species. Glabrous characteristics of leaves, stems, and fruit are commonly used in plant keys.
The term is only used for features that lack trichomes at all times. When an organ has trichomes that are lost with age, the term used is glabrescent.
In varying degrees most mammals have some skin areas without natural hair. On the human body, glabrous skin is found on the ventral portion of the fingers, palms, soles of feet and lips, which are all parts of the body most closely associated with interacting with the world around us, as are the labia minora and glans penis. There are four main types of mechanoreceptors in the glabrous skin of humans: Pacinian corpuscles, Meissner's corpuscles, Merkel's discs, and Ruffini corpuscles.
The Naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) has evolved skin lacking in general, pelagic hair covering, yet has retained long, very sparsely scattered tactile hairs over its body. Glabrousness is a trait that may be associated with neoteny.
Hair removal fashions
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Recently[when?], the term glabrousness also has been applied to human fashions, wherein some participate in culturally motivated hair removal by depilation (surface removal by shaving, dissolving), or epilation (removal of the entire hair, such as waxing or plucking).
Although the appearance of secondary hair on parts of the human body commonly occurs during puberty, and therefore, is often seen as a symbol of adulthood, removal of this and other hair may become fashionable in some cultures and subcultures. In many Western cultures, men currently[when?] are encouraged to shave their beards, and women are encouraged to remove hair growth on various areas. Commonly depilated areas for women are the underarms and legs. Pubic hair may be removed partially or entirely. Some individuals depilate the forearms. In recent years, bodily depilation in men has increased in popularity among some subcultures of Western males.
As with any cosmetic practice, the particulars of hair removal have changed over the years. Western female depilation has been significantly influenced by the evolution of clothing in the past century. Leg and underarm shaving became popular again[when?] 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 recent years has resulted in the exposure of more flesh, giving rise to more extensive hair removal.
Encouragement by commercial interests may be seen in advertising. At present, this has resulted in the "Brazilian waxing" trend involving 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 toward pubic hair. (cf. bikini waxing) What was once kept a personal secret now is discussed more openly, although still in carefully non-explicit language, as advertised in magazines and on television.[original research?]
Cultural and other influences
In ancient Egypt, depilation was commonly practiced, with pumice and razors used to shave. In both Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, the removal of body and pubic hair may have been practiced among both men and women. It is represented in some artistic depictions of male and female nudity, examples of which may be seen in some red figure pottery of Ancient Greece on which both men and women were depicted without body or pubic hair.
In the clothes free movement, the term "smoothie" refers to an individual who has removed most of their hair. In the past, such practices were frowned upon and in some cases, members of clothes-free clubs were forbidden to remove their pubic hair: violators could face exclusion from the club. Enthusiasts grouped together and formed societies of their own that catered to that fashion and the fashion became more popular, with smoothies becoming a major percentage at some nudist venues. The first Smoothie club (TSC) was founded by a British couple in 1991. A Dutch branch was founded in 1993 in order to give the idea of a hairless body greater publicity in the Netherlands. Being a Smoothie 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 U.K. 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 years, its SCN website continues to promote the club's hairless fashion.
Athletes may depilate as an enhancement to their abilities. For example, male and female competitive swimmers may remove their body and pubic hair in order to help streamline their bodies and to allow their swimsuits to fit more closely to their bodies. Bicyclists also remove body hair to decrease the effects of "road rash" by minimizing the tearing action of hair against pavement during a bike crash and to provide easier injury clean-up afterward. Hairfree legs also are described as increasing the comfort and effectiveness of sport massages.
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