Ever since the one ring to rule them all was forged, the debate has been growing, but those most affected by it are finally speaking up. More and more female hobbits feel pressured – by their friends and peers, by their partners, by the media, and even by their parents – to remove the hair on their feet.
Many do blame the trend on the increasingly popular “scrolls of porn” for their portrayal of hobbits with hairless feet, perhaps in an effort to “look more elvish,” and the trend has stirred up quite a controversy.
“Do men feel this way about the hair on their feet? They certainly aren’t oppressed in this way!” exclaims an exasperated Lily Baggins of Bywater, who herself sports the classic hair on her feet one might expect from a hobbit. “When there are so many things in life that we could be spending our time and energy on, why do we waste hours (and lots of money) on shaving, waxing, magical wizard creams and so on? Why do we put ourselves through it and why are we encouraged, even expected, to? They’re FEET.”
Researchers believe one demographic group has embraced the hairless-feet look more fervently than others: great adventuring-age hobbits. In theory, this should come as no surprise; Where else do youth, rampantly available porn scrolls, and non-monogamous footsie-playing habits all converge so gloriously?
Ruby Brockhouse of Loamsdown, a hobbit currently on a great adventure with some friends, agreed to sit down with us over some second breakfast. Between bites of eggs, bacon, fried mushrooms, bread, sausages and a nice cup of tea, Ruby shared that she believes her whole generation has been fooled by the ‘everybody’s doing it, everybody loves it’ myth.
“A lot of my friends had been saying it was the only way to go, so I thought it was going to be this life-changing thing, something worth putting in a memoir,” says Ruby. “I was a little misled. Are you going to finish your eggs there?”
In addition to paying 55 gold pieces for a hair removal job that wasn’t nearly as thorough as she’d hoped, her new smooth feet simply left her feeling creeped out. “I’m not a fan of looking like a child,” Ruby says. “I think people should have hair down there.”
“On your feet,” I add, helpfully.
“Yeah on your feet. Our ancestors grew it for a reason. For protection.”
I caught up with Podo Burrows of Tuckborough, a male hobbit also on his own great adventure, to see what he had to say.
“When I first met some of my friends,” says Burrows, thoughtfully smoking a pipeweed, “they were like, ‘Oh, I only like girls who can braid their own hair and are three feet tall,’ and run down this list of really high standards. And then a year or two later, once I’d gotten to know them, those same guys were like, ‘Yeah, you know, I really don’t mind if she has a friend help out with the braiding.’ My dad’s old scrolls used to show ladies with really natural feet. It’s just whatever the trend is.”
And what a trend indeed: nearly 60 percent of young female hobbits are sometimes or always completely hairless on their feet. Rosie Boffin of Willowbottom is one such hobbit embracing the style. “Of course it’s painful – what’s more sensitive than your foot?”
“Nothing!” I reply, supportively. She continues.
“Right? But I feel so much more confident! Even if guys are into it, I really do it for me.”
“I do a compromise,” agrees Rosie’s friend Camellia Bramble (also of Willowbottom, obviously). “I feel pretty good about taking most of it off, but I leave a little just to show I’m proud to be a full grown, mature hobbit,” she says, showing me her feet to prove it. “I shouldn’t have to look like a total porn star or an elf to feel sexy.”
“I would never expect or demand that a girl do that. It’s a personal choice. That would be a total Tomnoddy move on my part,” explains Podo Burrows, just before trying to hitch a ride on my back. “Assuming it’s not like, out of control, whatever makes her feel her best is fine. Am I allowed to say ‘Tomnoddy’ in print?”
So what does it all mean? Is foot hair removal a symbol of feminine pride? Or does it signify submission to a domineering male hobbit agenda?
“It’s all in how people deal with it,” says Primula Bumbleroot of Haysend, a hobbit and expert on Hobbit Gender Studies.
“Many have started to feel a sense of ownership over their bodies — an autonomy,” she says. “If they want to take it off, they take it off. If they want to grow it back, they grow it back. If they want to shave it into a heart, they shave it into a heart. If they want to put jewels all over it that spell “hottie” in elvish, they footazzle it. But they’re doing it because they want to. It’s THEIR feet.”
Trend or no trend, that part is probably what matters most.