As summer heat persists, our shorts get shorter, and sleeves turn into sleeveless. The pressure to shave body hair is also persistent. For women, body hair has received a little more acceptance in the past few years. Trends gave body hair visibility with trends of women not afraid to show it off in photos, companies showing body hair in razor advertisements, and colored armpit hair. Even with these movements in the last few years of body positivity, not shaving for women is still considered ‘gross’ and unhygienic in America’s society.
A Little History
Since ancient times, cultures practiced body hair removal. The Egyptians shaved their entire bodies (one reason wigs were popular), Greek and Roman men plucked their beards. Though, for women in American culture, it did not gain popularity until the 1920s. Fashion evolved during this time; more skin got exposed as skirts and sleeves got shorter. Companies marketed razors toward women as part of personal hygiene and fashion. Companies innovated new types of razors and hair removal creams and sold them to women. Versions of the safety razor may have been invented as early as the 1700s. The electric razor was invented in 1928! How astonishing is that? Humans started shaving a long time ago.
Advertising is very clever, making think they must have the newest product. We are influenced by the exposure of ads and social customs. If advertisements say hairless bodies look better, we will grow accustomed to it. That is precisely what happened in the 1920s and continues today. Young girls are taught that body hair is bad and must be removed. This leads to insecurities from societal pressure from a young age. Girls are not only taught to shave their legs, armpits, groin area, but also arm, back, and facial hair too. In the eyes of the American media, hairless equals beauty.
Hair grows naturally on our bodies. The hair we grow has a purpose; it cools us down, as a protective barrier for our skin to prevent chaffing in certain areas. It is completely natural and clean to grow and keep body hair. Some women may not shave certain places because it is inaccessible or painful for them. If you are someone with a BFRB (Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior), removing hair might trigger unwanted behaviors. Others may not because they rather spend time doing something else. Not to mention, it is simply comfortable for some women to let it grow.
Body hair can be a form of self-expression or whatever you want it to be. The amount of body hair someone chooses to remove is a personal choice. If you want to grow it all out, then go for it. If you only want to shave certain areas, great. Does removing all your hair makes you feel good, then awesome! Do what makes you comfortable with your body. So next time you grab that razor, think to yourself, “Am I doing this for me? Or am I doing it because I was told I have to?”