If you haven’t been under a rock for 100+ years, then you have seen a few commercials and print advertisements from the shaving industry for women. The advertisement formula consists of a conventionally attractive women, “unsightly” body hair (that you can’t even see on camera) and the product in question being used to rid the woman of said body hair, which results in the woman having a renewed sense of beauty. Not familiar? No worries, I have you covered: Click Here or Here. In print advertisements, companies will even allude to a woman being manly if she has any hair on her body at all (see image Here and click on the re-direct).
The beauty industry accounted for a whopping 62.46 billion dollars in 2016 alone. The products that are sold to women are a few pennies on the dollar more than similar products that are sold to men. Yes, it’s only a few pennies, but when calculated yearly, the costs of being a woman add up. When it comes to profiting off of insecurities, the beauty industry will always be one of the best routes. So, how did we get here? How did we get to a state of disgust with all body hair that is on a woman’s body outside of the hair on their head?
Trip Down Memory Lane…
In 1917, Gillette’s first female razor, the Milady Décolleté was introduced in its first advertisement; it was specifically catered to upper-class women of European descent. One of the best strategies in capitalism is to create a problem, then provide the solution. Gillette capitalized on the shift in fashion transitioning from being heavily covered to showing more skin. The ad effectively convinced women that they would be left out socially, if they did not keep themselves well groomed by ensuring that their underarms are “white and smooth”. They had hit the jackpot!
As time passed, women began to shave more consistently with the lengths getting shorter and shorter. During World War II, there was a nylon scarcity, which was another fashion staple, so marketing and products shifted to legs; women quickly followed and began to shave their legs. Each decade featured ads that played on a woman’s loneliness by promising that shaving guaranteed attractiveness. In the 1960’s, Gillette released an ad, the “Scaredy Kit”, that belittled the women who hadn’t felt inclined to shave.
In the 90’s, the focus shifted to the vaginal area. During this decade, female porn stars started to appear on film without their normal bushes and what was once taboo became the preference for men everywhere. Pubic hair wasn’t sexy anymore; therefore, with this change came along advertisements that were geared more toward keeping the entire body hairless.
So, here we are over a century later and the topic of female hair removal is still one that proves to be a lively debate in the Western world. I recently started a conversation about it on one of my personal social accounts and the reactions were definitely what I expected from men. The fact that there is a lack of understanding about how we got here in the first place is what is the most baffling of all. Women were bullied, belittled and downright pressured by marketing to keep their hair “groomed” to the point that it is now a standard for men. If you’re a woman that prefers to keep your body hair, then you’re automatically labeled as being a feminist, currently single and not dating or a woman that lacks proper upkeep. The politics of hair removal for women of color has always been difficult terrain to navigate. Let’s be clear, the first print advertisements were not geared toward all women. So, it’s unfortunate when a man of color pressures a woman of color to adopt a standard that he himself would not have it were not for ads that were never catered to women of color in the first place. Crazy, right?
Health Concerns + Benefits
Body hair has a purpose; yes, the hair on our head does too. Young girls, prior to puberty, don’t have vaginal hair because they do not have a purpose for it. The hair that is on the vaginal area is actually of a great benefit to women. In fact, OB/GYN’s recommend women to leave the hair in that area alone for health reasons. Never mind the fact that it’s a very delicate region on a woman’s body, but when one shaves, lasers, waxes and/or snips, there is a possibility that small microscopic wounds will be left behind. Afterwords, one is more susceptible to contracting sexually transmitted diseases with a higher vulnerability to the spread of sexually transmitted infections as well. If a woman is wearing her pretty Victoria Secret lace underwear or going commando in her jeans, then vaginal hair provides extra protection from fabric irritation. While on the subject of irritation, vaginal hair absorbs sweat and discharge (which all women have, so get over it) to prevent skin irritation, which can lead to further complications. Vaginal hair even heightens and provides benefits during intercourse: sensations from the touching of the hair are sent to the brain from the nerve ending where the follicle is attached and the hair serves as a cushion (for the pushin’). Yes, that kinky ‘fro is an energy conductor. Also, a woman’s natural essence is held within her vaginal hair; it holds the power to provide immediate arousal for her partner.
Personally, I feel that women should be able to do whatever they want to the hair that is on their body. Let’s be clear, this isn’t to shame women that are bare, but to provide an overall understanding for the women that choose to keep their bush (and hairy whatever else). Women shouldn’t have to go on a full scientific explanation about why they choose to keep their body hair in their nether region. What is considered grooming to one person is not synonymous for the next, so policing body hair just needs to stop…now. It’s not nasty; it’s natural. The condescending comments about a woman being on her “natural shit” or ignorantly labeling a woman as being a feminist just needs to stop…now. If it’s a deal breaker for a man to see you sporting a bush, which was a byproduct of the mentioned history above, then keep it moving sis because the problem is clearly much deeper and who has time for all of that?
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