A Leg Up on the Hairy History

The removal of “objectionable hair” is a fashion stunt. Yes. It was started by the fashion industries and slowly crept over women’s bodies invading more and more (and eventually more) private areas as fashion became more revealing. Now, few women feel comfortable sporting unshaven legs, far fewer unshaven underarms, and I have known several women who even shave their arms. Whilst selective grooming is a very personal choice, I still stand by Hadley Freeman, who, in the book my brother-in-law gave me for Christmas, says, “sexual maturity is an attractive quality in an adult”. Why are we infantilising the female body (and with chest hair, sometimes the male)?

The answer: fashion, is actually reassuring. This is just a fad.

In the thirties, wartime frugality meant women couldn’t buy stockings. In order not to look scruffy and poor, they started shaving their legs and drawing on stocking lines. As bare legs and shorter hemlines became more popular, the line disappeared, but shaven legs remained.

It’s not the first hair removing fad. History contains many odd examples, such as the use of arsenic for hair removal, or the Egyptians’ full-body shaving – a handy tactic that prevented some spread of disease.

Questions and debates about hairiness are complicated because whilst men shaving their faces is common, and fashion directs them in a particular direction, it is not socially pressured. Some peoplethink beards are disgusting (or terrifying), but they don’t try to enforce their opinion, much. But women shave bits where men have hair too, and men tend not to shave those regions. Not that even women are consistent amongst themselves. Wikipedia, for example, says, “Some women may only shave the hair below the knee – depending on the length of dress styles in fashion – while others shave the entire leg.[1] The frequency of shaving also varies, with some women shaving their legs every day, and others shaving only at the start of summer, in anticipation of the wearing of a swimsuit.”

How far do you think is too far?


About RowenaFW

I am a Fish. But you wouldn't know it just from looking at me.
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