Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Big Hairy Deal.

This post was inspired by a friend of mine.  You can read her blog by checking out the blogroll to the right of this post, or clicking here.

We are now at Tuesday of the first full week of December.  This means that "No Shave November" has fully passed us by, and all the boys who were sporting full beards for the past few weeks can once again return to their clean-cut profile...or not.

This and the post mentioned above got me thinking about our view of body hair as women.

I am one of those women who is NOT interested in NOT shaving.

In high school I was a swimmer and practiced the rule of not shaving until a big meet.  My legs grew VERY hairy.  I continued to shave my armpits, however, because, not only could I NOT stand the prickly feeling, I could also NOT stand the ridicule that would have most likely come with it.

As it was, I was wearing sweatpants in gym class while all the other girls were wearing shorts.

It felt amazing to be able to once again, shave my legs.

It's become the norm for me, so it feels strange to have hair under my arms or on my legs.

But this whole No Shave November thing and the fact that some women participated in various capacities got me thinking about the whole shaving thing.

Why do we do it?

All this thinking led me to research, and here's what I learned:

First of all, no women shaved their legs or their pits until approximately the 1920's, when sleeveless dressed became popular.

It all had to do with advertising.

I'm not all that surprised, really, but wow...  we are SO vulnerable to the MEDIA!


The media pictured a model with shaved pits and arms above her head in a new sleeveless dress.  The caption read something like "summer dresses + dancing required the removal of unsightly underarm hair".  That was really all it took.  By 1922 women's razors were hitting the shelves and in less than a year razor companies didn't have to convince women to buy a razor, just which razor they should buy.

Leg hair took a little longer.

It wasn't until World War 2 that this practice became popular.

Hemlines got shorter and stockings got thinner, and after a Betty Grable's famous pin-up displaying her "awesome gams..., baring your legs became a patriotic affair" - plus, leg hair "looked dorky" under thin stockings.

And, ladies, we in America have been shaving our legs and pits ever since.

All because of advertising... and maybe some patriotic acts.

One of the articles mentioned that goddesses in Greek culture were always shown as completely hairless (COMPLETELY), and there might be something to a long standing idea that less hair = more beauty, but that's advertising as well - let's face it.  From Aphrodite to Betty Grable to our modern day models - the standard of beauty has been set.

The funny thing is, it's really only Western culture that shaves.  Most European women don't shave their legs or their pits, and nobody thinks they're any less fine.

For all of this, I'm not saying I'm going to stop shaving.  It's hard to go back - I can say from experience (at least on my bottom half).  Hair starts to feel strange against clothing.  And even I think that my underarm hair is a little unsightly - but I wanted to know how it all began.

And I thought you should too.

Would you ever consider giving up your razor?  Have you ever tried it?  What's your story?

For more information visit this site.


Jeff said...

I can kind of see a correlation in this with the recent trend of "manscaping"...I mean, how often do you see a ripped guy in a magazine with a hairy chest? Not very often.

Missy said...

Absolutely. I know a lot of guys who actually shave their chest hair because of this whole deal. What a disaster.

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