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Did I shave my legs for this?

 
 
Reply Mon 22 Aug, 2011 08:16 pm
I was having one of those chain reaction thought days today.

It started while I was in the shower shaving my various body parts and thinking about that hilarious country and western song called "Did I shave my legs for this?".

I remembered Mr. B telling me about a friend of his who had lazer hair removal done on his back and thinking that maybe this is becoming a "man thing" too.

I started wondering why and how we became so obsessed with hair removal so I looked it up and found this....

Quote:
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.

<snip>

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.'"


More at: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/625/who-decided-women-should-shave-their-legs-and-underarms

So then I started thinking about foot binding. Foot binding was not some patriarchal thing used to keep women in their place but a fashion that was wholly embraced by women and perpetuated by women (read: "Aching for Beauty: The History of Foot Binding in China.)

That reminded me of the first question I ever asked on Abuzz, many years ago: Are long fingernails the modern day foot binding? (I was seriously taken to task for this question as most people really didn't understand the history of foot binding and they thought I was simply dense.)

Which reminded me of how much I hate long fingernails and how I never could understand why women would so incapacitate themselves with those awful (in my opinion) talons.

Which took me back to the marketing campaign of 1915, 45 years before I was born this shaving thing became the fashion custom and it's still here. 95 years is a long time for a fashion trend to hang around.

I'm sure I'll continue to shave hair even though I despise the thought that some long dead marketing executive thought it would be a good idea as a way to sell me stuff.

But I have to wonder -- will it ever go the way of foot binding and super long fingernails?

It also makes me wonder what other marketing gimmicks we fall prey to.

And I wonder if men will embrace shaving off all their hair as a fashion statement.

Are you, like me (I suppose), a slave to fashion?



 
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 03:24 am
I couldn't afford the expense which would be required to remove the hair from my back. I doubt that this attitude toward hair on women will change any time soon, though, given the fashion for "french cut" bikini bottoms, and increasingly skimpy bathing suits in general. As for underarm hair, my sister once suggested to me that i shave my armpits as a way of keeping down underarm odor in the hot summer weather. Go figure.
Fido
 
  -4  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 05:00 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

I couldn't afford the expense which would be required to remove the hair from my back. I doubt that this attitude toward hair on women will change any time soon, though, given the fashion for "french cut" bikini bottoms, and increasingly skimpy bathing suits in general. As for underarm hair, my sister once suggested to me that i shave my armpits as a way of keeping down underarm odor in the hot summer weather. Go figure.
You stink and have a hairy back and pay attention to what your sister says... That explains why you are such a jerk... You need to find a zoo to get laid...
sozobe
 
  3  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 05:04 am
@boomerang,
Yeah, I had a similar thought process re: braces. It started when I was researching palate expanders. Sozlet needed one medically, her orthodontist said, and actually patiodog helped convince me that a medical need made sense. And in fact, canines that had been stuck behind other teeth forever finally emerged with the palate expander. And as a totally bonus benefit, her very narrow nasal passages seem to have been widened a bit, and her nose/ ear problems improved a lot during the year she was wearing the expander or retainer. (I don't know if those benefits will persist as there is some regression after she stops wearing the retainer.)

But back to my research. I was really appalled at all of the stuff that went something like: "My child is in excruciating pain and can't speak without spitting on everyone and is crying herself to sleep every night," with the response; "Don't worry, it will all be worth it! It hurts to be beautiful! Just remind her how pretty she will be at the end of it all!" Bah.

And that made me think of foot-binding and whether it's that big of a deal to have crooked teeth.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  2  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 05:11 am
@Fido,
Goodness, someone woke up on the wrong side of the cave this morning.

I would compare foot binding to plastic surgery, like a boob job. Long nails are not permanent and more artsy. I doubt the hair thing is going away any time soon. Permanent removal of certain body hair will probably be even more common as laser techniques get better and cheaper.
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 05:18 am
@Green Witch,
Quote:
Long nails are not permanent and more artsy.


I don't know what you mean by artsy. I saw a woman in a store once whose nails were about 4" beyond the tips of her fingers. She was having trouble removing the cash from her wallet to pay for the purchase. Two thoughts occurred to me immediately--i doubted that she cooked meals for the children surrounding her, and i wondered if she ever gave them caresses. It was, in my never humble opinon, grotesque.
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 05:29 am
@Setanta,
It might not be an art you like, but I remember as a teen (I haven't worn polish since) painting my nails all sorts of colors and sticking on decals. Today I have naked nails barely over my fingers, so no harm done. For some women it is part of an expression of who they are, but it's optional. No going back on the foot binding.
Fido
 
  2  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 05:33 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

Quote:
Long nails are not permanent and more artsy.


I don't know what you mean by artsy. I saw a woman in a store once whose nails were about 4" beyond the tips of her fingers. She was having trouble removing the cash from her wallet to pay for the purchase. Two thoughts occurred to me immediately--i doubted that she cooked meals for the children surrounding her, and i wondered if she ever gave them caresses. It was, in my never humble opinon, grotesque.
Thurston Veblin talked about such behavior in his Theory of the Leasure Class... It is just like the white cane and gloves of his day, or the droopy drawers of ours... It sends a signal...It says: the person holding up the line, or their britches will not be engaged in any meaningful labor any time soon...
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 05:34 am
So, Set, did you try it?

I agree that the fashion of shaving probably isn't going away any time soon.

I get what you're saying about it being more like a boob job, Green Witch, but boobs are not really incapacitating in the way that long fingernails are. Opening car doors, dialing phones, cooking, etc., were all impeded with these accessories. I knew girls who developed "tools" to help them with simple tasks so that they didn't damage their long nails.

Absolutely braces, soz. When I was a kid only kids with real problems wore braces (at least in my neighborhood) now it's almost a given. Mo wants braces and he has nice, straight teeth.

I think I first noticed the whole teeth thing when I was watching "Survivor". Here were all these young people, supposedly just average people in regular jobs and they all had movie star smiles. Then I saw David Bowie on TV and thought he looked kind of weird. It took me a minute or two to put my finger on it but clearly he'd had his teeth fixed or he'd gotten dentures. It hit me then that a lot of young people's teeth have started to look like dentures because they're too overly perfect. Within the last few years I've started seeing ads for dentures that promise a slightly imperfect, more natural look.

And so it goes....
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 05:36 am
@Green Witch,
I don't know what foot binding has to do with my post. The woman to whom i referred had significantly debilitated herself for her "art." Believe or not, i have a right to deplore her choice. I didn't say anything to her, nor visibly react. My thoughts, however, are my own and something to which i am entitled.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 05:46 am
Set and I cross posted. My feelings about fingernails are similar to his. I'm glad that fashion went away. It was almost painful to see women with those nails. I don't mind the normal length longish fingernails but those really long ones were strange.

Fido, I've had similar thoughts about suntans. When people worked in fields it was a sign of your status to have pale skin. When people moved into factories it became a sign of status to have a sun tan. Even in these days of SPF 80 and skin cancer warnings every where you look, having a tan still says something about you.
JPB
 
  3  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 06:11 am
@boomerang,
Or earlobe gauging. I see it everywhere but I just don't get it.

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQxhD85DYyNnlHOSszYtDwz7z76DiVu2DGyBoOumt0dho4DyYMN
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 06:24 am
@JPB,
Ewwwwww . . . i didn't know about that one, and could have gone along nicely without learning about it.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 06:28 am
@Setanta,
yeah, it kinda makes my stomach flip-flop too.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 07:52 am
@boomerang,
Did you know in the Roman times in Bath, England - they had hair pluckers whose job was to pluck the hair from the arm pits.

From NOVA "NARRATOR: Unaware of germs, Roman doctors collected the gloios from the floor and mixed it into medicinal ointments. After sponging down, the next step was decidedly less pleasant. Body hair was not fashionable in ancient Rome - so the bather could hire a depilator, a hair plucker.

GARRETT FAGAN: They would pluck out the hairs, even their underarm hairs. And in fact, Seneca the Younger describes the howls of the depilators who are looking for customers, which are only exceeded by the howls of the customers who are being plucked."

boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 07:54 am
@JPB,
That's very, very popular here. I read something interesting about the "tribal-ness" of such things. It was really interesting. I'm going to have to see if I can find it because I can't really recall the content....
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 07:55 am
@Linkat,
For men, women, or both?

Was it for aesthetic reasons?
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 07:57 am
@Green Witch,
The damage done to nailbeds when acrylic nails are applied can be permanent. Nasty stuff.

I love nail polish, love to have pretty nails, but I think some of those 3"+ acrylics are dreadful. People can't do basic tasks with them applied, and the removal process can be painful - and damaging.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 08:00 am
@boomerang,
Here is the NOVA transcript.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/27rbroman.html

I've also read before that Julius Caesar did this (not just pits, but all body hair) for hygiene and Egyptian priests too in some cases - to avoid body lice.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Aug, 2011 10:49 am
@Linkat,
That's kinda neat (except for the howling part). Thanks for the link.
 

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