What is it with the social pressure to shave every hair on a woman’s body, bar her head these days? Is it to sell hair removal products? Does it come from the rise in media representations of photo-shopped, flawless women's bodies and the growing sales of porn on the Internet?
Does it come from men’s fear that women might be hiding something … akin to the myths which surrounded the alleged witch hunts in the Medieval and early modern periods, where women were chased down and shaved in search of so-called witches marks?
It’s interesting how the mere presence or absence of hair on one’s body can indicate so much more than whether or not one owns a shaver or a bottle of wax. In past times, men with unshaven faces were considered lower class, and even today it can be construed as a sign of power to have a fresh, clean shaven jaw-line.
Western women thought nothing of a hairy under-arm or leg until about 1915 when advertisements for hair removal products began to appear in magazines and newspapers. Men were encouraged to have hairy bodies while women were punished for the presence of hair in ‘unsightly’ places.
Today the trend for a totally hairless woman’s body seems to be growing and hair-loss industries and reaping the benefits. Brazilian butterflies apparently have been let loose in flocks of thousands. Of course women are ‘free’ to choose whether to be adorned with body hair or ‘relieved’ of it via their choice of device. What is worrying is the social expectation that this is the norm, particularly in young girls, who reportedly fear that their boyfriends will be horrified at the sight of their natural body hair.
Well, shave away, wax away or be proud of your pubes, I say, but keep in mind that whatever you choose to do is probably bringing a profit to someone and may not make you happy. Be aware and be yourself, however you choose to fly.
Sue Oaks 2013