The History of Hair Removal for Women

Getting rid of unwanted hair, both today and in the distant past, is the practice of men as well as women. This dates back to the Stone Age, and subsequently occurred in the old empires of Greece, Egypt, and Rome. Today, both groups continue to remove hair from various parts of the body, although the majority of men focus on their facial hair. Women, on the other hand, remove facial hair along with underarm, leg, and pubic hair. 

This is all done to the glory of beauty and the attractiveness of the person to potential and existing partners. We look at the development of this lasting trend from bygone days to the present.

Ancient Practices in Egypt, India, and Rome 

Various practices for hair removal were practised by several older civilisations: Greece, Egypt, India, and Rome. Experts have been able to trace findings of what has been categorised as the first razor as far back as 3000 BCE. These were located in ancient India and Egypt and were made from copper. 

Both head and pubic hair were anathema to the ancient Egyptians. In their opinion, having pubic hair was uncouth. Then, in the sixth century BCE, high class women removed unwanted hair with depilatories, pumice stones, and tweezers. Examples of ancient depilatories are beeswax and seashells.

The 1800s and 1900s

As recorded in Descent of Man, written by Charles Darwin in 1871, there is a reason that humans (known as homo sapiens) tend to have less body hair than their forebears of a different species. He ascribed this to evolution in which genes that increase the survival of the species become dominant and these ancestors showed a sexual preference for primate females with less body hair. This increased the chances of species survival.

The beginning of the 1900s was characterised by media messages from the fashion industry and in women’s magazines advertising hair removal products. Shorter skirts revealed whether leg hair was removed or not. Women’s fashions sported sleeveless tops and bare armpits. 

This was also a time when women were being recognised as independent consumers. As a result, marketers advertised wares exclusively for women. The first such advertisement appeared in a women’s magazine of the time, Harper’s Bazaar, in 1914. The following year, Gillette ran a media campaign to encourage leg and underarm hair removal and put out a new product, the first modern safety razor.

The Modern Era 

A unique factor of World War II in the 1940s virtually ensured that women would keep their legs clean-shaven. During the war, shortages of many things were commonplace. However, it was the scarcity of nylon that prevented women from wearing stockings and meant that they had a greater propensity to shave their legs. The mini skirt became fashionable during the 1960s. 

The bikini was ushered into the limelight of fashion in 1946. This placed the emphasis on the removal of pubic hair, which is still in vogue. During the 1950s, Playboy magazine featured models in skimpy clothing and not sporting any unsightly hairs. This was to form an image that many people today still associate with alluring beauty. 

By the time 1964 came around, only two percent of women did not make shaving a routine practice. Nowadays, women have access to far more civilised ways to keep body hair in check. It is easy enough to find a salon offering many different options for hair removal in Oxfordshire by doing a quick online search, for example. For the present time at least, hairlessness is here to stay. 

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