The History of Armpit Shaving ...


The History of Armpit Shaving ...
The History of Armpit Shaving ...

Ever wondered about the history of armpit shaving? I bet you haven’t given much thought to the fashion trend of shaving. We take it for granted that all women, since the dawn of time hit puberty and start to shave. The truth couldn’t be anymore different. Shaving has always been a cultural fashion trend which changes through the epochs and centuries. It will change again. It might not be for another hundred years, but it will change again. Here's the history of armpit shaving for your enjoyment.

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Ancient Egyptians Went a Little Overboard

Egyptian men and women in ancient times were very much into cleanliness. They saw the hair on their heads as unhygienic, and with lice and not exactly the best shampoo four thousand years ago, they were right. They also saw the clean-shaven look as fashionable. The ancient Egyptian era lasted for thousands of years. The shaving hype wasn’t always in fashion. There was a time when men had mustaches and pharaohs grew long beards that they braided and then dusted with gold. The trend of women shaving their heads for fashion is actually coming back in style for those bold enough to embrace it. I guess even four-thousand-year-old fashion trends can be retro.


Ancient Roman Sexism

Well, life for the ancient Roman woman of wealth was really no different than today. Ancient Roman men could shave whatever they wanted, if they wanted to. Ancient Roman women, if they were of the upper class were expected to shave their upper lip, legs, armpits, well, you get the picture.


While armpit hair removal was a standard for patrician ladies, it's interesting to note that this practice highlighted the stark contrast in societal standards of beauty and hygiene that permeated ancient Rome. To be smooth-skinned was a sign of femininity and sophistication; a testament to one's standing in the social hierarchy. Indeed, it was the visible adherence to such grooming rituals that often helped to distinguish the elite from the common populace, who might not have had the luxury or means to engage in the same meticulous level of personal care.


The 1700s

The 1700s was a nice time for women. At least when it came to shaving trends. To shave or not to shave, that is the question. The answer, literally do whatever you want because nobody cared about your body hair. Men still fell over women and women still made friends with other women whether or not they shaved or what parts of their body they shaved. You have to wonder if some type of women’s empowerment was behind the, “no, not shaving my legs this year” stance of the 18th century.


In the 1700s, women had more freedom when it came to body hair grooming. Women were not judged for their body hair, and they were not expected to shave any part of their body. This was in stark contrast to the 19th century, when women were expected to shave their armpits and legs. In addition, during the 1700s, women were also more likely to engage in activities such as swimming, which would have been difficult to do if they were expected to shave. This was a period of greater freedom for women when it came to body hair grooming, and it may have been a step towards greater gender equality.


Shavers Were for Men

Sure shaving was in during the ancient Roman and Egyptian empires for women, but in the 1700s and 1800s shavers were marketed for men.


Probably All of the Women on the Titanic Had Hairy Armpits

Prior to 1915, it was scandalous to show your underarms. In 1915, the risque sleeveless dress was invented. The fashion models of 1915 showed the dress with shaved underarms. Fashion magazines insisted you must have your armpits shaved in order to wear it. However, legs still remained unshaven in 1915 and for decades thereafter.


In the Titanic era, women's fashion did not accommodate the display of underarms, so there was little need for shaving them. The sudden shift in trends in 1915 took many by surprise, and the idea of underarm grooming became part of the beauty regimen almost overnight. Magazines and advertisements of the time rapidly spread this new beauty standard, equating it with femininity and sophistication. However, most ordinary women during the time of the Titanic's voyage would have likely adhered to the old norms, keeping their underarm hair untouched.


WWII Was All about Legs

Pinups to remind men fighting combat of the women back home they were fighting for became a fashion trend during WWII. It also liberated women’s legs that were trapped behind the long dresses for so long. For the average, typical woman (as in not Betty Grable) she still shaved her legs. The war effort was on and money had to be saved by any means. Nylon stopped being produced and so women begun to shave their legs.

Where do you think shaving will take us in the next twenty years? Do you follow current shaving trends?

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Hopefully natural will take over

Probably shave our elbows next

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