In a note to an advice column that I had not heard of before this morning, a man laments his girlfriend’s decision to let her legs and pits go wild and free. Her excuse is the usual – shaving is a male chauvinist plot.
You know… I don’t really keep up with these things but isn’t letting your fur grow as a protest against the patriarchy a little outdated? A lot of men are going smooth now days, a trend that does not exactly have my enthusiastic approval. I mean, it’s okay on TV I guess but I’m not sure I would like living in a world where all men look like Ken dolls. But anyway, it’s not like only women are removing body hair these days.
One interesting thing about the Advice Goddess’s answer is that women and men have been shaving, or using other means to remove hair for a long, long time.
…way back before there was Cosmo, there was Ovid, the Roman poet, advising women looking for love: “Let no rude goat find his way beneath your arms” (don’t let your underarms get stanky like a goat), “and let not your legs be rough with bristling hair.” Archeological evidence (including hair-scraping stones and an impressive set of Bronze Age tweezers) suggests that women — and often men — have been shaving, depilating, and yanking out body hair since at least 7,000 B.C.
So you can stop blaming American women for this custom any time now.
No one enjoys the hair removal process and I have to confess that I have my moments when I wish we didn’t have to do it but, honestly, hairy legs and especially hairy armpits on a woman look disgusting. Why? Is it merely cultural? I think it’s more than that. After all, there was some reason why someone thousands of years ago decided to start removing hair in the first place. I don’t think it was a male vs. female thing. That came later. Perhaps our ancestors (and we still today) wanted to distinguish themselves from the animals. Perhaps at first only those people who were more hirsute than normal shaved and other people liked the smooth look and started shaving also. Maybe it started with athletes, wrestlers. Or maybe there was a male dominance element. Maybe, in an age of child brides and polygamy women wanted to continue to look like children to compete with younger wives. Maybe it was all of these things. Whatever. Ladies, get rid of the leg and underarm hair. It looks gross.