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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » The history of shaving

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Author Topic: The history of shaving
listlesslise
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So, just who the heck decided women should not have hair on their legs, underarms of pubes anyways?? (Atleast in North America, anyway). I mean, it kinda seems liek an odd concept, no? Any thoughts?

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Heather
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It was really about two things happening at once here in NA, just past the turn of the century: the invention of the straight razor, and cultural ideas and fashions changing over the next twenty years where women were then showing their ankles (which previously were covered by skirts and boots).

As to the exact who is, hard to say (a better historian than I may know more). However, there are pretty strong, old European traditions/ideas that seeing the body hair of women is a very intimate act, so I'd be willing to bet some of what was tied up in there is that a little leg was scandal enough (in terms of the cultural proprietariness and ownership of women and their bodies), let alone a little leg hair.

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Leabug
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In a class on marketing in history, we took a look at WWI era advertisements, and one of them was for a razor company. According to my professor, these ads told women that body hair is unhygenic and unfeminine in order to sell more razors! Around the same time, Harper's Bazaar featured one of the first advertisements showing a woman's bare shaven armpit.

So it looks like, in the last century or so at least, marketers decided women should shave, and for the same reasons women still feel pressured to do so.

For the record, there have been other hair removal fashions throughout history as well... Aztec women shaved; the Roman emperor Nero's wife Poppea used depilatory creams; medieval noblewomen (like Queen Elizabeth) plucked all hair from their faces (including eyebrows) and foreheads... the list goes on [Smile]

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Lea

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mizchastain
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From what I've heard, quite a lot of people (not sure if it's 50-50, but a substantial number) prefer their partners to still have pubic hair, but I have yet to see anyone who thinks leg and armpit hair is attractive. Weird how that works.

Does anyone think leg and armpit hair is attractive?

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Leabug
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There are lots of people who think leg and armpit hair is attractive [Smile]

Just like anything else, people's preferences on body hair vary greatly- some hate it, some are ambivalent, some love it.

(To bring back the historical aspect, too, Heather's right- it used to be considered intensely erotic to see a woman's hair ANYWHERE on her body, around the 14th century or so in Europe!)

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Lea

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DarkChild717
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As far as hair removal itself is concerned, holy people (priests, priestesses, etc) would remove all body hair in Egypt. This includes eyebrows and the hair on the head.

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Caylin, Scarleteen Volunteer
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logic_grrl
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So, just who the heck decided women should not have hair on their legs, underarms of pubes anyways??

It's worth noting that it didn't all happen at once.

For example, the idea that women should remove all their pubic hair is very new. In the US and Europe it seems to have mainly arisen as a result of trends in pornography (pubic hair removal having become common in hardcore pornography, probably to allow clearer camera shots in extreme close-up).

And it's still not mainstream, or something that's widely expected (in the way in which women are generally expected to remove leg and armpit hair).

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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Alatariel
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It was a popular belief in the middle ages that body hair represented sexuality, and, in those times, women weren't supposed to be sexual, so paintings of nude women usually depicted them with little or no body hair (other than on their heads). I'm not sure if this is what led the the shaving that we do today, though.
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hunnybunny888
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in general, women have less body hair then men, so perhaps shaving certain areas seemed to be the extremity of emiting feminism.
another interesting fashion hair trend is why it became fashionable for men to have short hair and women long hair

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