Laura Cofield

University of Sussex

Project Title: After Shave: Pubic Hair in Twentieth Century British Culture

My research explores the normalization of extensive pubic hair removal for women, and increasingly for men in Britain. My research demonstrates not only the pervasiveness and power of such regimes of cultural conformism but also the relationship between body hair, selfhood and identity-production. My thesis discusses how the mainstreaming of pornography and the influence of medical discourse have produced associations between purity, hygiene and hairlessness, as well as asking whether advertising has created a desire to depilate or solved an already existing anxiety. It also investigates the role of alternative discourses which have rejected the body hair removal norm such as various feminist and postfeminist activism and literature and examines what influence this has had on ideals of hairlessness.

Supervised by Dr. Lucy Robinson and Prof. Claire Langhamer.

Research Interests

My research interests include: Histories of the body and sexuality; emotions; Feminism; subcultures and popular style. I'm also interested in Historical Theory and Practice, particularly the use of digital histories, oral history and historical life writing.

Find out more about me at:

Listen to Laura on BBC Women's Hour - 20 Feb 2016