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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The GREAT BODY HAIR Debate

by Katelyn Edwards

The topic of body hair has been debated from the beginning of time. For instance shaving, waxing, nair, and so much more has been discussed when it comes to hair removal. With all of these options there comes the price to pay for it. When shaving, you get razor bumps, with waxing you get the pain, and with Nair the hair grows back in 24 hours. That is the main reason why so many college-aged women are deciding against body hair removal.

During the Roman Empire, a lack of hair was seen as a sign of high class and pubic hair was considered uncivilized. In 1760, the first straight razor was created.  In the year of 1880, the first modern razor was born. In 1915, Gillette created the first razor specifically for women which was called the Milady. X-ray hair removal was encouraged by a few separate industries such as the fashion industry, the men’s hair removal industry, and women’s magazines. With rising his lines there was the threat of hairy legs being exposed to the world so that doesn’t encourage a lot of women to start shaving. In terms of sleeveless garments, the threats of armpit hair was another issue. Magazines and razor companies used various advertisements to encourage women to get rid of unsightly hair. In the 1940s, during World War II, there was a shortage of nylon. This also encouraged women to start to get rid of their hair because they weren’t covering it up.

Body hair, especially in women, is grounded on a social contract of how you should be and how you should look for the male gaze. We as women were taught to remove the hair as a way to  “refine” the human experience. It was taught to pretend that things that are there, aren’t. By no means am I saying that you shouldn’t remove your body hair. Of course you can choose to take it away. It’s perfectly fine, but let’s not relate the act of choosing not to take it away, to savagery, to disgusting, and to unhygienic.  

We have the ability to modify the meaning of societal standards by going against the grain. I am one of many women who is tired of being forced to unreachable standards. These are standards that force us to pretend hair does not grow on our bodies in the same manner that it does on men’s. I’ve discovered that little personal choices can be just as effective as large gestures in changing the status quo. In a society where women’s choices are frequently policed, keep in mind that what you do with your body hair is entirely up to you. 

Katelyn is a sophomore at the University of West Georgia and majoring in psychology with a double minor in sociology and gender & sexuality studies. She is also the Vice President of the HC UWG chapter.
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