‘Standards’ for hair-removal appeared back in approx 1915. Harper’s Bazaar produced an advert during this time depicting what was acceptable grooming. This read, “the fastidious woman today must have immaculate underarms if she is to be unembarrassed.” Bare underarms were being advertised as a “necessity” across campaigns. This was to fit in with the trend of sleeveless dresses. It wasn’t long until removing hair from the bikini line, underarms and legs became the ‘thing to do’. The decision not to was somewhat controversial.
Today, it is still uncommon to see an unshaven woman braving a bikini. Has this trend stuck because of society’s expectations? Or is it all down to personal preference? Speaking to my social circle, the general feedback is that they choose to shave because they want to. It makes them feel more comfortable. They don’t choose to because of society’s expectations. A lot of my friends did mention that they find shaving a lot of effort. For that reason, they said they would avoid it when possible during winter months. Although, generally they thought they would feel judged if they decided to sport an ungroomed bikini line.
I also spoke to one of our own TOTM team members to get her feeling on body hair. Her opinion was that she “doesn’t particularly have an issue with body hair.” Hair-removal only happens if she feels like it. “I would love to try not shaving my armpits. But, my only concern is people judging me for it. Hair has a reason for being on our bodies, but people should at least keep it tidy.”
Cosmopolitan carried out a survey involving 4,146 respondents aged 18-35. It explored both genders attitudes towards pubic hair. The respondents were from Cosmo’s social media accounts, Esquire’s Twitter and AskMen’s Facebook. The results highlight how widespread and popular hair-removal is. A huge 92% of respondents undertake some form of grooming. 57% of women choose to go completely bare and 62% groom weekly. The general feedback from women was that they shave because they like how it looks. Men also said they prefer the way it looks when a woman shaves. Being groomed was also perceived as being more “sanitary” and not grooming seen as “unhygienic”.
Many celebrities have chosen to defy society’s expectations over the years, baring all and celebrating being natural. This has prompted mixed responses. The response is much more positive nowadays than in the past.
Amber Rose is a prime example of a celebrity who’s choosing to embrace the unshaven look. She posted a photo on Instagram with her ‘bush’ on full display to promote her annual SlutWalk. She used the hashtag #bringbackthebush, to defy social norms and break down taboos surrounding pubic hair. This was not met with approval from Instagram. They took down the photo, stating that it did not fit with their guidelines.
Amber Rose refused to let that be the end. She turned it into the ‘Amber Rose Challenge‘, encouraging people to get involved. The challenge was set to show everyone they were “not conforming to social norms of how we should live, what we should wear and where we should shave.” This received a lot of praise. People over Instagram jumped at the opportunity to get involved. They recreated the photo in different and creative ways to ensure it wouldn’t get taken down.
One thing I noticed whilst gaining opinion/research on this blog is that hygiene is a big influencing factor on why people shave. What is interesting is that doctors actually say it’s more hygienic to NOT shave. They state that hair protects sensitive skin. It also traps bacteria before it enters the vagina. Removing the hair can increase the occurrence of vaginal irritation. It would seem that keeping pubic hair is actually better for your vagina.
To shave or not to shave? I guess it all comes down to choosing what works best for you! I think women are more inclined to make their own decision based on what suits them best. Women shouldn’t receive negativity for choosing not to. But equally, shouldn’t receive negativity for deciding that they want to shave.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Would you brave the bush or are you all about the groomed bikini line? Leave a comment below or tweet us at @totmorganic