“To shave or not to shave?”: the question has been asked again and again in recent years. The conversation around body hair goes back centuries. It has been a taboo throughout time; influencing gender dynamics, symbolizing class, and defining notions of femininity and attractiveness. However, in its most recent evolution, body hair is being embraced by a growing number of young women who are turning a source of societal shame into a sign of personal strength.
History of shaving for women
Women’s museum of California reports on their website that some of the first razors, made of copper, were used in Egypt and India as early as 3000 BCE. Upper-class Roman women of the sixth century BCE used tweezers, pumice stones and depilatories, while ancient Egyptians used a sugar mixture in a method like waxing. In Ancient Egypt they removed body hair, especially pubic hair, as it was a symbol of the uncivilized. It was frequently depicted as dirty and unhygienic. Many women also copied their Pharaoh at the time, Cleopatra, who removed all her body hair. Even men preferred a clean-shaven face, as having a beard or stubble was common among servants and slaves.
Women shaving in ancient Greece
The separation and focus on women started to become clearer in ancient Greece. Pubic hair was considered low class, which explains why Ancient Greek statues of women were completely hairless. The practice of removing body hair for women became a symbol of their purity and class. Whilst Greek men grew their body hair, as it became associated with manhood. This is how ancient some of the images surrounding body hair are. Women’s museum of California relates the European desire to remove body hair to Charles Darwin’s 1871 book, Descent of Man, where he stated the removal of body hair was more attractive and feminine. By the early 1900s, upper and middle class white American women associated smooth skin with a desirable femininity.
As CRfashionbook.com details the first female razor wasn’t made until the early 1900s. Spurred on by the rise of women shaving their legs, in response to the shortage of nylon after World War two, the first razor for women was made. King Camp Gilette created the first safe razors for women, it unveiled the first razor in 1915, dubbed the “Milady Décolleté”, complete with its own rose velvet packaging.
Brazilian waxes, a beauty treatment consisting of removing all pubic hair, became a standard by the 1980s according to CRfashionbook.com. It was a response to the popularisation of smaller bikinis. It is reported that the first full body waxing experience was first offered in the U.S. in 1987; from then on, the bikini wax has gained popularity alongside other modern treatments.
Shaving is YOUR choice
At Chitè we want to celebrate individuality and encourage everyone to be the best version of themselves. If you feel best in your lingerie full shaved, or in our Lover knickers not having shaved at all, then that is what is important. The decision to shave or not is up to you alone. Lingerie is about loving your body your way – your opinion around your body hair is the only one that matters. The history around lingerie and body hair has only displayed a certain “look”, but our modern beauty standards are changing.
Instead of centring the beauty standard around what women “should” and “shouldn’t” do, it instead is slowly becoming what women decide to do with their own bodies. For decades, women’s bodies and their body hair have been policed and controlled, the new feminist movements have surrounded embracing body hair as a form of female empowerment. However, if you decide to shave your body hair, this does not make you a ‘bad feminist’. It is your choice what to do with your body, and your body hair. If you feel like your best self after a bikini wax, then that should be embraced and celebrated also. At Chitè we view female body hair removal as a choice rather than a necessity. Our bodies are beautiful and should be celebrated in whichever way we decide to care for them.