#1 Posted by KingUranus (218 posts) - - Show Bio


Modeling, acting and living your daily life sure has changed during the decades all due to innovative and stylish trends, but one particular yet noticeable trend stands out and that is how men and woman groom themselves.  In comparison to 30-40 years ago, men didn't really shave their body except for their faces. It didn't necessarily have to do with how they wanted to portray their body openly, but rather the pride of having a "manly" body. As of the mid 90's gradually becoming more and more trendily until today's standards where modeling in almost every corner of the spectrum are using very clean and well groomed bodies.  This is almost a requirement in all modeling and viewers fall into the trend. 
But this is not generalizing specifically on men but on women as well.  


Dear Cecil:

Why do women shave their legs and underarms? When did this custom begin? If it's for hygienic reasons, why don't men to it too? Is it all a big conspiracy by the razor companies? I've heard some European women don't shave. Please clarify this mystery.

—  A.Chicago

Cecil replies:

I knew if I procrastinated long enough on this often-asked question somebody would eventually do the legwork for me. Sure enough, Pete Cook of Chicago has sent me a 1982 article from the Journal of American Cultureby Christine Hope bearing the grand title "Caucasian Female Body Hair and American Culture."

The gist of the article is that U.S. women were browbeaten into shaving underarm hair by a sustained marketing assault that began in 1915. (Leg hair came later.) The aim of what Hope calls the Great Underarm Campaign was to inform American womanhood of a problem that till then it didn't know it had, namely unsightly underarm hair.

To be sure, women had been concerned about the appearance of their hair since time immemorial, but (sensibly) only the stuff you could see. Prior to World War I this meant scalp and, for an unlucky few, facial hair. Around 1915, however, sleeveless dresses became popular, opening up a whole new field of female vulnerability for marketers to exploit.

According to Hope, the underarm campaign began in May, 1915, in Harper's Bazaar, a magazine aimed at the upper crust. The first ad "featured a waist-up photograph of a young woman who appears to be dressed in a slip with a toga-like outfit covering one shoulder. Her arms are arched over her head revealing perfectly clear armpits. The first part of the ad read 'Summer Dress and Modern Dancing combine to make necessary the removal of objectionable hair.'"

Within three months, Cook tells us, the once-shocking term "underarm" was being used. A few ads mentioned hygiene as a motive for getting rid of hair, but most appealed strictly to the ancient yearning to be hip. "The Woman of Fashion says the underarm must be as smooth as the face," read a typical pitch.

The budding obsession with underarm hair drifted down to the proles fairly slowly, roughly matching the widening popularity of sheer and sleeveless dresses. Antiarm hair ads began appearing in middlebrow McCall's in 1917. Women's razors and depilatories didn't show up in the Sears Roebuck catalog until 1922, the same year the company began offering dresses with sheer sleeves. By then the underarm battle was largely won. Advertisers no longer felt compelled to explain the need for their products but could concentrate simply on distinguishing themselves from their competitors.

The anti-leg hair campaign was more fitful. The volume of leg ads never reached the proportions of the underarm campaign. Women were apparently more ambivalent about calling attention to the lower half of their anatomy, perhaps out of fear that doing so would give the male of the species ideas in a way that naked underarms didn't.

Besides, there wasn't much practical need for shaved legs. After rising in the 1920s, hemlines dropped in the 30s and many women were content to leave their leg hair alone. Still, some advertisers as well as an increasing number of fashion and beauty writers harped on the idea that female leg hair was a curse.

Though Hope doesn't say so, what may have put the issue over the top was the famous WWII pinup of Betty Grable displaying her awesome gams. Showing off one's legs became a patriotic act. That plus shorter skirts and sheer stockings, which looked dorky with leg hair beneath, made the anti-hair pitch an easy sell.

Some argue that there's more to this than short skirts and sleeveless dresses. Cecil's colleague Marg Meikle (Dear Answer Lady, 1992) notes that Greek statues of women in antiquity had no pubic hair, suggesting that hairlessness was some sort of ideal of feminine beauty embedded in Western culture. If so, a lot of Western culture never got the message. Greek women today (and Mediterranean women generally) don't shave their hair. The practice has been confined largely to English-speaking women of North America and Great Britain, although one hears it's slowly spreading elsewhere.

So what's the deal with Anglo-Saxons? Some lingering vestige of Victorian prudery? Good question, but what with world unrest, the economic crisis, and the little researchers having missed their naps, not high on Cecil's priority list. Here's hoping some all-but-thesis Ph.D. candidate will pick up the trail.


—  Cecil Adams

According to the history, women (American) started shaving post WWII when skirts were being shortened while other countries started falling the trend after Hollywood's success of becoming international. However, grooming in the pubic area for both women and men had just recently become a blow out in 2000's. How did grooming become so popular and making natural hair look so ugly unless if its on your head. If the trend gets too out of hand, the near future might require everyone to shave off their eyebrows and the hair on their head.

#2 Posted by joshmightbe (24819 posts) - - Show Bio

there are several frightening images up there

#3 Posted by XMASCATEXE (135 posts) - - Show Bio

Partly it's expression, even if inspired though pretty much everything is. I agree with what's laid out here generally, but I think it's far from representing the entire spectrum, and more so reason anyone dictates the way they choose to conduct and represent themselves in the broad sense, and I wouldn't know where to begin with the examples that stand outside of what's inscribed. Many people choose to " look the way " they want to because it's how they want to look, and because it either makes them feel good or they believe it will, and less to gain societies approval, and likewise they take the idea from something they see and work with that or created a variation, evident in the case of rebellious natures especially. Sometimes I think it's even because our species is literally that bored, which may be a positive as it inclines that we have life relatively easy, certainly as opposed to survival in the wild and can even have the time to focus on so many seemingly trivial things and dedicate so much to them in fact. Not that the approval stance isn't there either. Also B.O. collects in hair.

#4 Posted by TypingKira (3345 posts) - - Show Bio

Grooming like shaving goes along with the whole ultra-sanitary look that our society likes right now. More revealing clothing as well as changes in plumbing and the introduction of running water, if you can imagine, all led to new standards of hygiene at the turn of the century. It's also probably got to do with the equality movement, it's popular right now to be pretty much hairless, and if it looks good on girls, some guys probably figure it looks good on them. Or something, I don't know how guys think.

And by the way, history's beaten you to the 'shaving off eyebrows' department. At the time the Mona Lisa was first painted in Italy, eyebrows and lashes were considered unsightly, and were ALL PLUCKED OUT. EYELASHES. PLUCKED OUT. Which is why, if you look closely, you'll see that Dear Mona has neither. There was also a time when it was popular for women to shave back their hairlines about an inch or so.

And also, chest hair is nasty. Have you ever hugged a shirtless guy with chest hair? It's like getting a faceful of man-fluff. *shudder*

#5 Posted by tron_bonne (2282 posts) - - Show Bio

Hey this reminded me of Wolverine so I guess this fad also applies to artist for comic books. Classic Wolverine from a Jim Lee POV is a savage hairy beast, but some artist that draw Wolverine today, give him less to no hairs at all. I mean has Logan been waxing lately? LOL! 

#6 Posted by Daveyo520 (2447 posts) - - Show Bio

I am just naturally not very hairy.

#7 Posted by The Stegman (26644 posts) - - Show Bio

i'm actually naturally not very hairy, but i do think every hair on the human body, is useless, not enough to keep us that warm, yet enough to be kinda gross and annoying

#8 Posted by BiteMe-Fanboy (8127 posts) - - Show Bio

People that shave there body hair freaks me out. I could understand if you are super hairy and it's just gross. But otherwise, just leave it.

#9 Posted by TitsteR (96 posts) - - Show Bio

@The Stegman said:

i'm actually naturally not very hairy, but i do think every hair on the human body, is useless, not enough to keep us that warm, yet enough to be kinda gross and annoying

The only useful thing about them is just playing/styling them.

#10 Posted by White Mage (18751 posts) - - Show Bio

This is why the "Bear" community became popular again

However, I must say that I like the smell of shaved/manicured bodies the most

#11 Posted by ChaosBlazer (3930 posts) - - Show Bio

meh, its just a thing nowadays. not alot of real explanations, except the one you provided.

#12 Posted by KingUranus (218 posts) - - Show Bio