When did women start shaving?
These days plucking, shaving, waxing or tweezing out unwanted body hair is second nature to most ladies. But who came up with the idea that hair should be removed and, more importantly, how did people do it way back when?
Some folk think we’ve been de-fuzzing ourselves since as far back as 4000 BC, when women used toxic and possibly death-inducing substances like arsenic and quicklime to get the job done (presumably poison dissolves hair). These dubious techniques were followed up by the Ancient Egyptians, who preferred to be head-to-toe bald. Don’t need to keep warm in such a hot climate, we suppose – plus, you don’t get lice if you’ve got no hair.
But when did the modern day obsession with taking off body hair – and keeping it off – happen? Most likely it happened when fashions shifted from having ladies covered to the wrist, chin and ankle to letting the underarms and knees roam free (the first instance of a model appearing with her pits out was in a May 1915 edition of Harper’s Bazaar).
So now that armpits were officially a ‘thing’, the idea of whether or not they should be shaved became a talking point. Ads decided that yes they should, and ladies jumped right on the bandwagon! Women’s razors, along with sheer and sleeveless dresses, rocketed in popularity. The women had been won over, and the industry moved on to the evils of leg hair.
By the 1930s hemlines were back to being much longer so having hairy legs wasn’t an issue for most ladies; while the fashion industry called it a ‘curse’, most weren’t bothered about defuzzing the backs of their knees. That, and as the legs ajoined certain…other body parts, they might have been seen as being ‘that kind of girl’ had they shaved their legs back then. Then Betty Grable appeared in THAT picture, and it was all over; the shavers won and women have been razoring those pesky wisps away ever since.