Why Women Shave Their Legs

We all know the power of advertising. At the turn of the century, for example, the South African Diamond company, DeBeers, created the image that the diamond was forever and therefore would make an excellent wedding ring.

Another marketing campaign around this time convinced the women of North America to shave their body hair. Notably, women in the other parts of the world do not engage on masse in this ritual. Even in French Canada, the habit is not largely undertaken.

It all began with the May, 1915 edition of Harper's Bazaar magazine that featured a model sporting the latest fashion. She wore a sleeveless evening gown that exposed, for the first time in fashion, her bare shoulders, and her armpits.

A young marketing executive with the Wilkinson Sword Company, who also made razor blades for men, designed a campaign to convince the women of North America that:

(a) Underarm hair was unhygienic
(b) It was unfeminine.

In two years, the sales of razor blades doubled as our grandmothers and great grandmothers made themselves conform to this socially constructed gender stereotype. This norm for North American women has been reinforced by several generations of daughters who role modeled their mothers.
BTW, some useful info for those who however shave the legs here Shaving Your Legs

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is bull... to make a razor company rich... God meant for our bodies to be the way they are...

Anonymous said...

Not entirely. We were given body hair to 1. keep the body warm. and to 2. keep the skin safe from foreign bodies. (thus is why people have hair in their ears, nose, and whatnot.)There are other reasons as well but of less importance. As we are now in the 21st century, we have found other means to keep ourselves warm, protect our skin, and whatever else. Body hair in certain areas such as the legs, face, and underarms is no longer necessary to living. Thus is why shaving has been adapted and proves to be a very useful and clean hygenic manner.

Anonymous said...

So wouldnt it be more hygenic to shave your head?

Ana said...

I have often wondered if there isn't some almost pediphilic type fantasy lurking behind western man's preference for bald bodies on women. Especially when you start talking about shaved twats. Or perhaps it is simply that hairlessness indicates youth which indicates greater fertility and men pick this up on a primal level.

Anonymous said...

I resent the idea of disliking body hair being in some way pedophilic. There is far more separating me, in both body and mind, from a pre-pubescent girl than a bit of curly hair and I'd expect anyone who sees me in a state of undress to be aware of that.

Evolutionarily, we've been breeding out excessive body hair because once we figured out clothing for warmth it actually decreased hunting/gathering skills for instance, its harder to keep cool during strenuous activity.

With this evolutionarily developed preference for smoothness over hair I feel completely un-conflicted in removing as much hair as I want. I haven't been fooled into thinking it's a hygiene imperative, I just prefer the feeling and appearance.

The media only succeeded in making it a fashion because it kind of made sense.