Why are some of us hairier than others?

Anthropologists have made many attempts to devise a satisfactory division of the world’s population into racial groups, using characteristics such as skin color and type of hair to separate the different units One difficulty is that characteristics overlap: every group will have some people who do not conform.

Some racial groups are groups are hairier that others. Africans have more hair than native Americans or people of Chinese descent. People of Mediterranean back-ground are natural hairier as a rule than Scandinavians. Normal variations within these groups may be further accentuated by mixed breeding. In the United States, Canada and Australia, countries populated largely by immigrants, marriage between people of different nationalities is commonplace, leading to a greater diversity of physical characteristics within the group.

An excess of hair – hirsutism – is rarely regarded as abnormal. It causes no problems in men. How much hair a man or a woman should have is largely dictated by fashion. Hirsutism may be genetic, or it may be traced to glandular irregularities, the taking of steroid drugs or to the menopause. A woman who is excessively hairy may doubt her femininity, but can be reassured that almost always the growth is natural and easily remedied. A few facial hairs are easily removed with tweezers – they will regrow in about six weeks – or may be permanently destroyed by electrolysis. Shaving with an electric razor is the easiest solution. Contrary to common belief, shaving has no effect on either the rate or thickness of new hair growth.

Abundant hair or no hair at all, it depends entirely on a person’s genes. A trio from Mandalay, Burma, shows how likeness of many kinds can run in a family. Excessive hairiness is usually genetic. Shaving the hair makes no difference or its speed of growth or its thickness.

hairy face and body

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