Why Women Are Obsessed With Getting Rid Of Hair All Over Their Bodies
Why do girls feel the need to shave everything?
Hair removal is bothersome. It is tiring, occasionally unpleasant, and not necessarily effective. But if you are a girl who adheres to the present beauty ideals, then you feel the pressure to add this as part of your regular regimen (unless you are among those naturally hairless “blessed” ones). Even in the event that you don’t shave/wax/whatever your own body hair the majority of the time, you’ve probably thought about it or felt the need to do it in any case.
Whether you are someone who does not consider it important or has felt the urge to curse at society because of the it, you’ve certainly questioned at one point why it’s being practiced in the first place.
If you’ve ever wondered how girls ended up with this obsession with hair-free bodies, then keep reading for some background.
Hair removal has existed for a very long time – not only for ladies.
At some point growing up, girls were told to avoid wearing their hair in ponytails since it would be easier for predators to catch them. This always seemed somewhat strange (weren’t predators able to grab a handful of hair anyhow?), impractical (ponytails are adorable and definitely practical), and cumbersome (add this to the list of Other Things Girls Shouldn’t Do).
But apparently this hair-grabbing concern has been an issue since cavemen existed. Based on Mic, unlike the way cavewomen and cavemen are usually depicted – nearly completely covered with hair, looking like hairy hippies – archaeologists have started to think that they were the first ones to adopt shaving. Based on History Undressed, both women and men throughout the Stone Age frequently shaved their faces and heads so their opponents would not have the upper hand and be unable to grab anything. It was also to stop their odds of frostbite.
For cavemen, hair removal could have been brought about by issues in hygiene.
Based on The Economist, some even assert that ancient cave paintings show that cavemen were removing hairs out of their face. Initially, it’s said, they plucked out hair using seashells and they scraped off at it using razors made from flint or horn after. It was probably due to sweat and dirt plus it made eating uncomfortable and played host to nits.
Ancient Greece may be to blame for the expectations imposed on the body hair of ladies and gentlemen.
Just kidding. Though it doesn’t really come as a surprise, Greece specifically during the ancient times was a society which deemed beautiful guys filled with merit and stunning women filled with wickedness. They also assumed that ladies were in reality men who were disfigured. Hesiod, an 8th/7th Century BC writer, whose writings were the closest they had to a bible – considered the first woman created as an object that is beautiful as well as evil, as reported by the BBC.
Women were not encouraged to go about their days as they naturally are. According to Bustle, the Greeks of the ancient times viewed pubic hair as uncivilized on women. Whether both courtesans and ordinary women or simply courtesans subscribed to this practice is subject to debate. Upper class women of ancient Rome also maintained the smoothness of their bonnets, and a few men removed their body hair, too – though they had been believed to be ‘dandies’ for this.
In early Egypt, everyone was doing this.
While Greece was actively shaming girls for the hair in their ladyparts, Ancient Egypt was also spreading hairlessness – however, the mandate was not so gendered.
One Andrew Tarantola wrote on Gizmodo that Greek historian Herodotus mockingly noted the Egyptians ‘put cleanliness over seemliness’ by bathing a few times each day and keeping a rigorous regimen of shaving their bodies fresh. Everybody, especially the upper classes, went entirely bare. This was due to warmth in addition to hygiene issues.
Additionally, it is worth noting the Ancient Egyptian culture was actually egalitarian between genders.
The Disturbing Link to Darwinism
Whatever expectations that have been specifically imposed on women as it relates to hairlessness could have originated from Darwinism as well as racism.
According to The Atlantic’s Nadine Ajaka, men involved in the sciences obsessed with hair growth and type in different races (among other elements of outward appearance), and since the media lacked those findings, most American people latched on. Darwin’s theory of evolution turned body hair into a matter of selection that’s competitive so much so that being hairy was profoundly pathologized. Thus, hairiness in girls became a sign of nonconformity and this was set out by researchers to confirm.
Advertisements and fashion industry promoted shaving.
In the early part of the 1900s, hair in the leg and underarm didn’t worry girls. Clothing pretty much concealed most of the body so hair removal wasn’t too much of an issue. Dancers or actresses were main users of depilatories before 1910 and it was also used chiefly for surgery.
Harper’s Bazaar started running advertisements in 1915 for underarm hairlessness among girls wearing the popular styles, such as Greek- and Roman-style sleeveless dresses, and presumably, it was advertisements like those that got into people’s minds as the styles changed. Some people disagree that women’s apparel was the reason behind this because it’s not really clear when shaving became a thing for women.
Girls were literally dying just to become hair-free.
Whatever the reason may be – science or advertising, as it may seem – girls of a specific class came to view body hair as repulsive during the early 20th century and they badly wanted to rid themselves of it.
According to Ajaka, some died attempting to eliminate it. During the ’20s and ’30s, sandpaper or pumice stones were used by women to eliminate hair, which induced inflammation. Among other products put into use for hair removal were altered waxes used by shoemakers as well as poison used to kill rats. The poison was proven to be effective for hair removal but wrought with many complications including death.
Hair removal via X-ray appeared as an alternative during the same period. The radiation would take about four minutes to perform its job. It also came with a price, of course. Cancer was one.
Trends in body hair remain because they’re profitable.
A survey was conducted by Slate targeting women who groom their lady gardens. This survey with a sample of 3,316 American girls demonstrated that 84% of girls were doing some type of pubic hair grooming, whether by scissor, razor, wax, tweezers, depilatory lotion, or laser.
In what looks to be a baffling as well as thrilling twist for American girls, Korean girls have started paying to have hair transplanted to their genitalia to indicate good health.
As stated by the Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors, an insufficiency of all pubes (in otherwise healthy individuals) is a disease known as ‘pubic atrichosis.’ Renaissance, a Korean clinic, estimates that 10% of Korean girls have it.
That does not sound too bad to our American ears! Guess the grass is always greener, and trimmed always in some costly manner, on the opposite side.