Forums > Social Discussion > Never too busy to be beautiful or "why do women shave?"

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DrBoo
BRONZE Member since Oct 2005

DrBoo

I invented the decaffinated coffee table.
Location: Cornwall, United Kingdom

Total posts: 453
Posted:I have a wonderful book:
Non-Https Image Link

A tongue-in-cheek look at advertising directed at keeping women looking the way nature never intended.

And it made me think. Why do women shave their legs? Or armpits? OK. I know lots of women don't, and it's (I believe) predominately a western thing, with the exception of a few European countries.
But why is it meant to be asthetcially pleasing? At what stage did someone sit down and say, I know, while we're shortening skirts, let's make everyone think that women's legs should be unnaturally silken (have I just answered my own question with that word!?)

There is a bigger discussion here though. While women are being pushed to primp, polish, tweeze and pluck, what, historically are men still pushed to change about their appearance. (I'm not, at this stage, talking about body shape - ie skinny, or buff - that's a whole new thread!) Just why did no-one say...right, men should shave their arms as well as their faces? Or their armpits, or legs? confused

Or is it something that's changing? Men now do tweeze their eyebrowns more, and get their backs waxed...what is it about excess hair in these societies?! Why is it so frowned upon and considered unattractive?

A quick statement of intent here - this is not a feminest-orientated rant. I am just interested in why and what started the whol process. I need my bra, and am not ready to burn it.... smile


Boo x

I intend to live forever - so far, so good.

If it costs "a penny for your thoughts", but people give you their "two-pence worth", who is getting the extra penny?

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oli
SILVER Member since Jul 2003

not with cactus
Location: bristol/ southern eastern devo...

Total posts: 2052
Posted:probably some ancient epgytion queen was a freak and had no hair and forced all the other woman to shave thiers off so she didnt feel so freak like, and things just develpoed from thier.



could have been anything like that.. just part of our evolution as a human race... shrug



intresting topic smile im gonna be interested to see what other people think...


Me train running low on soul coal
They push+pull tactics are driving me loco
They shouldn't do that no no no

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SickWithWonder


member


Total posts: 56
Posted:I am a male, and shave my legs, stomach, abdomen/chest, and pits....

I just like the way it looks and feels...

nothing better than getting out of a shower, into bed, and rubbing smooth freshly shaven legs together.


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Domino
SILVER Member since May 2004

UnNatural Scientist - Currently working on a Breville-legged monkey
Location: Bath Uni or Shrewsbury, UK

Total posts: 757
Posted:One of the reasons I've heard is that it's a psychological thing the enhance femininity - in that women have less hair (ok, thinner, paler hair) than men so by decreasing this further it makes the more female.

Shaved legs are also rather fun to stroke, but then so are my arms which are decidedly gorilla like : /

... Okay, that last sentence made it sound like I have shaved legs and hairy arms. For the record, I have gorilla legs too.

I think this is one of the times that it's justifiable in blaming the media - it has a tendency to exaggerate and perpetuate trends - lack of hair, decreasing waistlines.

Why have men (largely) escaped it? Dunno. But it's changing I think, cosmetic companies have learnt that they can play to men's insecurities too, welcome to the world of male moisturizers, Just For Men grey hair coverer, muscle grow etc...

I'm wandering off the hair thing here. Sorry.


Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I can beat the world into submission.

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SickWithWonder


member


Total posts: 56
Posted:from my friend who works in porn:

"at least in the porn industry, they have girls shave to make them look young...i refuse to do it..."

but that wasnt in reference to leg shaving...


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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:I like the way it feels for me. I also don't like the feel of how clothing rubs on the hair on my legs (I have barely any on my arms).

It also makes doing henna on my legs easier.;)

I do it for me and if other people don't like it...oh well.

Neat book! Thanks for the ref! smile


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Eera
BRONZE Member since May 2003

old hand
Location: In a test pit, Mackay, Austral...

Total posts: 1107
Posted:Isn't there a tradition of hair removal in the Near and Middle East? I know Muslim women are supposed to have an all-over body wax before they get married, apparently as a hygiene thing.

I do it as an aestetic thing, and because I get fascinated by the amount that comes out every wax-time (it's a cheap thrill!)


There is a slight possibility that I am not actually right all of the time.

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Patriarch917
SILVER Member since Oct 2005

Patriarch917

I make my own people.
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Total posts: 607
Posted:Absence of body hair is a natural sign of youth. Youth is associated with beauty. Thus, men and women try to look younger by removing their body and facial hair.

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted: Written by: DrBoo


While women are being pushed to primp, polish, tweeze and pluck, what, historically are men still pushed to change about their appearance. (I'm not, at this stage, talking about body shape - ie skinny, or buff - that's a whole new thread!) Just why did no-one say...right, men should shave their arms as well as their faces? Or their armpits, or legs? confused




Interesting question. First, I would argue that the whole body shape thing does figure in. As a gay man, I'm not expected to shave my legs (although body hair is now definately OUT...I refuse to participate). However, I am expected to keep in shape. And I spend as much time on that or more as some women do on beauty parlors, waxing, painting, etc.

Leaving that aside, men are expected to shave their faces in the morning, although beards are allowed, even they are expected to be kept neat and trim.

My theory is that it has something to do with "supernormal" stimuli. Our culture is obsessed with them. A "normal" stimulus is something found in nature. A "supernormal" stimulus is a stimulus that exaggerates a pleasing natural stimulus. So a female goose, given an egg near her nest, will put it back in the nest. However, a female goose, given a choice between an egg and a tennis ball, will more likely choose the tennis ball because it's a "supernormal" stimulus.

If women are naturally less hairy than men, wouldn't the supernormal stimulus be for women to shave their bodies below the neck?


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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GothFrogette
BRONZE Member since Oct 2004

GothFrogette

grumpy poorly froggy
Location: Nuneaton, United Kingdom

Total posts: 3999
Posted:i shave for comfort and hygene.

time line of shaving


Life's too short to worry about where you put your marshmallows

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maus
BRONZE Member since Jul 2005

maus

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Sihanoukville, cambodia

Total posts: 4191
Posted:ditto
I just feel a hell of a lot cleaner if i'm hair free.

Plus i do get a certain satisfaction knowing that it is more aesthetically pleasing for a boyfriend if i have one.

So in all honesty,yes i partly do it for me,but at the same time being desired makes you feel good so if i'm with a guy i will make that extra effort,more often than when i'm single.


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Neon_Shaolin
GOLD Member since Jul 2005

Neon_Shaolin

hehe, 'Member' huhuh
Location: Behind you. With Jam

Total posts: 6120
Posted:In terms of body hair on men - if you're hairy, be proud of that. If you're smooth, be proud of that as well. But PLEASE if you're hairy in the torso and back area DON'T shave it.... the stubble it leaves is FAR more off putting!

With gay men, it's a strange situation to be in where the people you're 'competeing' with in terms of trying to look better than or as a love rival are sometimes the very people you feel like you're competeing FOR...


"I used to want to change the world, now I just wanna leave the room with a little dignity..." - Lotus Weinstock

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Kyrian


Dreamer
Location: York, England

Total posts: 4308
Posted:Less armpit hair = less body odor

Some people can get away with it and some can't, I fall into the "can't" catagory so no armpit hair (and it feels weird anyway).

As for legs it looks better (shaved) when the hair's dark (men and women, imo) but is no matter when the hair's light (its actually fun to play with) I'm really not sure what the deal is but many good suggestions!

I hate shaving tho, I wish I had lighter hair on my legs or at least better skin so it wasn't such a chore!


Keep your dream alive
Dreamin is still how the strong survive

Shalom VeAhavah

New Hampshire has a point....

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Birgit
BRONZE Member since Jan 2005

Birgit

had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland (UK)

Total posts: 4145
Posted:dunno really... I'm quite non-hairy anyways and got told off for "shaving my legs" when I was only 13, even though all it was was my leg hairs being largely invisible smile So I don't really need to shave, but do the armpits from time to time for sweatiness and all that.

I know a lot of men go "ewwwww she's got a mustache" at girls with slightly hairy upper lips, which is a bit hypocritical in my opinion... given the forests I've seen all over some men wink


"vices are like genitals - most are ugly to behold, and yet we find that our own are dear to us."
(G.W. Dahlquist)

Owner of Dragosani's left half

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oli
SILVER Member since Jul 2003

not with cactus
Location: bristol/ southern eastern devo...

Total posts: 2052
Posted:what i think is interetsing is that theres allot of people saying that woman shave because it looks better. why do people think it looks better? what looks good is a personal choice.

i think the only reason most people think woman look better shaved is because weve all been brianwahsed since we were born, it is normal (one could imagine a society that could have been where instead of all the woman shaving legs, they had to shave thier heads and leave thier legs hairy to be normal) for women to shave, and we are told by media etc that it is desirable... the generation before us was equally brainwashed (probably with slightly less efficient brianwashing techniques.) etc...when did this brainwahsing start?

im not saying woman shaving is a bad thing(ive been brainwahsed too...) ,im just wondering rolleyes


Me train running low on soul coal
They push+pull tactics are driving me loco
They shouldn't do that no no no

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Birgit
BRONZE Member since Jan 2005

Birgit

had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland (UK)

Total posts: 4145
Posted:I've found that a lot of men in the UK and US seem to think German women don't shave, and then are surprised if they don't see lots of hair under my armpits ubblol more brainwashing I suppose

"vices are like genitals - most are ugly to behold, and yet we find that our own are dear to us."
(G.W. Dahlquist)

Owner of Dragosani's left half

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NOn


activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac

Total posts: 1643
Posted:in the observer, they started doing one supplement women monthly or what not, but i vaguely recall that there was an article in there about women shaving, although not so much in terms of the history i don't think but more the 'obsessiveness i think they called it... wait, i shall see if i can find it...!

there it is... it's long and i couldn't be bothered to read it again, so there are no edited highlights....

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/woman/story/0,,1684090,00.html


Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

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_Aime_
SILVER Member since Jan 2004

_Aime_

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Hastings, United Kingdom

Total posts: 4172
Posted:Some interesting questions being raised...
I don't know why I shave...well, in a certain place its definatly nicer wink But legs? I really don't know...


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Rozi
SILVER Member since Jan 2002

100 characters max...
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Total posts: 2996
Posted:In the 70s, there was a guy called John Berger, who wrote a lot about art, perception and anthropology. Now, you may have noticed that a lot of oil paintings of female nudes are totally, and I mean totally, hairless.

Berger's theory was that hair is associated with sexual power. Therefore by portraying the woman as hairless it wasn't just about youth, it was about making her sexuality less powerful than that of the male viewer.

Interesting theory.


It was a day for screaming at inanimate objects.

What this calls for is a special mix of psychology and extreme violence...

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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted:Y'all don't think that because men traditionally have more hair than women, that shaving makes women look more feminine? I certainly don't think that hairy women look older.



I'd support an equity of asthetic responsibilty before I'd support a total lack of asthetics at all.



I try to shave often and keep my hair short because my girlie likes it. It's fun to 'dress up' and try and look clean-cut.



I acknowledge that it seems hypocritical to try and not be superficial while also acknowledging that I appreciate the fact that I'm physically attracted to my girlfriend.


Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

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PyroWill
GOLD Member since Aug 2004

PyroWill

HoP's Barman. Trapped aged 6 months
Location: Staines, United Kingdom

Total posts: 4437
Posted:*cough fiance cough*

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind

Give a man a fish and he'll eat 4 a day hit a man with a brick and you can have all his fish and his wife

"Will's to pretty for prison" - Simian

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Gnor
BRONZE Member since Mar 2003

Gnor

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Perth, Australia

Total posts: 5814
Posted:Shaved armpits and legs look good on both sexes to me. I like to look at skin so hairlessness is always eyecatching for me.


for me what Kyrian says holds as well "Less armpit hair = less body odor"


Is it the Truth?
Is it Fair to all concerned?
Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

Im in a lonely battle with the world with a fish to match the chip on my shoulder. Gnu in Binnu in a cnu

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Domino
SILVER Member since May 2004

UnNatural Scientist - Currently working on a Breville-legged monkey
Location: Bath Uni or Shrewsbury, UK

Total posts: 757
Posted: Written by: Rozi


Berger's theory was that hair is associated with sexual power. Therefore by portraying the woman as hairless it wasn't just about youth, it was about making her sexuality less powerful than that of the male viewer.




Maybe hair is just difficult to paint ubbrollsmile


Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I can beat the world into submission.

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Birgit
BRONZE Member since Jan 2005

Birgit

had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland (UK)

Total posts: 4145
Posted:Can see the thing with the sexual Power from Samson and Delila (sorry if I get the English spelling wrong...), but if that held you'd have to "encourage" people to cut the hair off their heads, not from under their arms...

Terry Goodkind wrote a fantasy series in which the length of hair indicates social status and power, but I think he never mentioned shaving of legs wink

I guess it's one of these things that people have started worrying about since their food and water supply was secured and they didn't have to fight for survival on a daily basis any more wink


"vices are like genitals - most are ugly to behold, and yet we find that our own are dear to us."
(G.W. Dahlquist)

Owner of Dragosani's left half

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Hanz


Hanz

veteran
Location: Bendigo, Vic, Australia

Total posts: 1328
Posted:I shave every now and then, last time I shaved was before Hoadley Hide, which was easter weekend... hmm, I maybe I didnt shave before Hoadley, I dont know, my point is, it's been a while since I shaved.

Why do I only shave every now and then? I don't know. Is it because Im lazy? I dont know.

I know I am hypocritical, as generally I like guys with shaven faces, and Im not much of a shaver myself, but I do from time to time. I prefer guys to shave faces because of the tickling factor whilst kissing, but other than that, I dont really care


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FoxInDocs
SILVER Member since Jul 2005

FoxInDocs

Pooh-Bah
Location: Adelaide, SA, Australia

Total posts: 1848
Posted:
I agree with the couple of people who've mentioned that it looks more femminine... women Do have less hair naturally, and so it goes to follow not having any hair at all is more feminine looking... and it does feel nicer too.

having said that, i don't like boys to be too furry either...


"i am exotic, and must keep my arms down" - Rougie

"i don't understand what penises have to do with getting married" - Foxie

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Pele
BRONZE Member since Dec 2000

Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA

Total posts: 6193
Posted:My friend Jennifer Miller is a bearded woman and proud of it. She runs Cirkus Amuk in NYC, teaches university and has been in all sorts of media and shows.

She is an amazing and brilliant woman who decided it wasn't worth attempting to shave. She battled the stigma and taboos. She battled the stubble, burning and shadows and finally she made peace with it.



She has alot of extra testosterone. It shows in her body shape as well, but it does not dimish her beauty. She has really embraced it well.



In her show for Cirkus Amuck (she is also a fabulous juggler and machete spinner btw) she does this entire thing about hairlessness in women being a lack of courage to show who they really are, and how it goes back to Sampson and his coif of power. Then she does this great bit about she (ashamedly) admits that she knows women who shave, who wax and yes, even pluck (like a chicken) pluck, pluck, pluck, pluuuuuck. It is hysterical.



The whole point of Cirkus Amuck is to take things outside the social norm and present it in an amusing and thoughtful way to disarm people who would otherwise be critics.

If in NYC you should check them out.



There are also men who find the hair beautiful. I know a photographer in Australia who specifically seeks out hairy models and he is obsessed with hair on women. When I find his website, I'll link it up. He heads a rather large group of like minded people. It's cool.



Either way you look at it...the confidence with which one carries him-herself is far more beautiful to me than the amount of hair..as I am sure it is for most of us. smile





Oh, and I saw on a documentary that there is a tribe in Africa where the men, prior to a hunt or a war with one of the other tribes, go to the river and rub all the hair off their bodies with river stones. Then they take handfuls of the clay and "paint themselves" and this is a symbol of their strength and power as well and unity as men.

EDITED_BY: Pele (1148139064)


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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_Aime_
SILVER Member since Jan 2004

_Aime_

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Hastings, United Kingdom

Total posts: 4172
Posted:On a side note here, whoever invented bikini line waxing should be shot...

Just had a go with veet cool wax strips...
Rippiing it off did not only leave with with tears in my eyes, but its given me a huuuuge black bruise in the side of my groin frown
*is now only using her trusty razor from now on*


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Patriarch917
SILVER Member since Oct 2005

Patriarch917

I make my own people.
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Total posts: 607
Posted:Random responses:

The Sampson theory is clearly bogus. Sampson lost his strength when he lost the hair on his head, not body hair. If the Sampson theory was true, men would think of long hair as being a sign of "manly" srength and prefer women to have short hair. Generally in western culture, the opposite is true. Men have short, women have long.

The popularity of shaving body hair of women is generally traced back to ancient Egypt. The popularity of shaving of the beard on men is generaly traced back to Greece. I seem to recall a general (perhaps Alexander the great) requiring his soldiers to shave their beards, since the beard gave the enemy something to grab during a fight.

I also heard Alexander once rallied his troops by performing obscene gestures with a pickle. I don't know whether this is relevent to the discussion, but I thought I should include it.


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Neon_Shaolin
GOLD Member since Jul 2005

Neon_Shaolin

hehe, 'Member' huhuh
Location: Behind you. With Jam

Total posts: 6120
Posted: Written by: Patriarch917


I also heard Alexander once rallied his troops by performing obscene gestures with a pickle. I don't know whether this is relevent to the discussion, but I thought I should include it.



Well how can we argue with a man who managed to conquer half of known civillisation? Wonder if this can be applied in the Iraq war... biggrin

But yeah, TOTALLY irrelevant to the topic but good point...


"I used to want to change the world, now I just wanna leave the room with a little dignity..." - Lotus Weinstock

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Mr_Chutney
SILVER Member since Apr 2003

Mr_Chutney

Tosser
Location: Herefordshire, England (UK)

Total posts: 1711
Posted:Hmmmm



I'm one of the 'never-got-hairy' types- aside from all the pubescent aquisitions (pits, pubes etc) I'm pretty much, well, unhairy.



I am one of the brainwashed mass that Oli refers too- I tend to favour the 'less-is-more' attitude.



Aimee- either hit a Salon or enlist a close and trustworthy friend wink (I'm not suggesting myself)



What on earth am I posting for?


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