It’s that time of year again when us ladies start the process of removing every inch of hair from our bodies apart from that on our heads and above our eyes. But when did this expectation start, and why do we play the game?
Although Euro-American women have only been participating in the game for around 100 years, it is not a new concept. Ancient Egyptians removed all hair from their bodies apart from their eyebrows using the technique of sugaring (a natural alternative to waxing that can be used cold), men included. In fact the Greeks and most of the Middle East have also removed their body hair for over a thousand years. Furthermore in Ancient Rome, a lack of body hair was actually a class definer due to slaves and lower classes not having the time or money for hair removal. Methods back then included threading, tweezers and pumice stones (ouch). The first razor designed and sold for ‘every man’ was invented by King Camp Gillette (he wasn’t a king, bizarrely that was just his name) in the 1880’s and the first women’s razor became available in 1915.
There are some differences of opinion as to why women are now expected to remove hair from their legs, underarms and more aggressively of late, their lady gardens. The most likely explanation is that our bodies are no longer covered up as much as they had been in previous centuries. Hemlines are higher and sleeves are often non-existent. Coupled with the evolution of hair removal methods and the fact that body hair is normally associated with the male form; facially, chest and even the back (yuk), it is only logical that women would want to differentiate themselves from this.
I don’t have a problem with removing the hair from my legs and under arms, although this is most likely because I have been socialised to think this, but it is the expectation to be shipshape down there when no-one really sees it apart from one’s partner. And we are not merely talking about keeping it ‘tidy’, we are now anticipated to have a shape, be bejazzled or have nothing at all. All of which I find rather unnatural. If another person is in view of our ‘area’, then I am assuming that they are over a certain age and that we should also look like we are over a certain age down there. I am not suggesting that we go back to full on natural, but maybe that we could all agree on a well kempt lady garden rather than a piece of art. All those ladies that are with me…