What's sex got do with... women shaving their legs?

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I am actually kind of surprised that no one has posted about this, but I just finished shaving my legs and it got me thinking as to why? Why do girls shave their legs? What does this say about the influence of men on women? Influence of society on women? Why is a woman made fun of for having hairy legs in America, while in Europe it's normal? Why can't men shave their legs? Why don't they? What makes smooth legs feminine and hairy ones masculine? The questions could go on and on, so I'll leave it at that.

6 Comments

I completely agree. I am a woman who shaves nearly every day (every day during the warm-weather months) and think about the subject of shaving quite a bit, mostly because shaving is such a big pain and I wish it were considered okay for women to have hairy legs/underarms. I'm not sure what it is about us as Americans that makes us so intolerant of leg hair on women, (although I'm sure other countries are like that as well, but I am not an expert) but I would definitely be for a change in our perception of women as these smooth, hair-less (excluding our heads) humans, because shaving most certainly furthers the separation between women and men.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that this is one of the more ridiculous examples of how the US differs from much of Europe and the world. Just throwing an idea out there, it could be that with the sex-crazed society that we live in there's nothing less "sexy" than trying to cop a feel by running your hand up a woman's leg and it not being super smooth. Why else would ALL women's razors, lotions, and other products advertise the "smoothest" skin after using them. Women aren't alone in this also, there's also the notion of the "smoothest shave a man can get" by using product X. While yes, women do have more pressure because of these socially constructed gender norms, it is possible that men deal with this too.
Also, I'm in agreement with scootie about how this just furthers separation of the two genders.

Actually, people make fun of for having hairy legs in Korea too. But I don't think women in Korea are aware of sexual implication of "smooth skin" and "smooth leg". They just think it's prettier and more feminine. But I sometimes think it's really a pity thing because they don't understand even some ugly parts of their body are still who they really are. And I think media should be blamed for this since we see ideal body of women on TV and other kinds of media every day and become more obsessed with making our body more like them. Ideal images also objectify human body and make people lose the concept of what is the natural beauty of human being. Everything in my body had its own function actually. Why should I feel embarrassed about them simply because they don't look good? I will shave my legs if I want to. But I don't want to feel obliged to shave my legs every day.

This is an interesting point. I feel like this question is similar to why women wear make-up and men don't. Hair is less attractive when a women is supposed to appear delicate and refined. Some men view women that don't wear make up are lazy, same thing with shaving there legs. It all ties in to our gender roles.

I hate referencing ideas without being able to properly cite them, so I apologize for not remembering where I read the article. However, I remember reading an article, I think in my Personal and Family Issues class in high school, that discussed what, biologically, attracts men to women and vice versa. Clear skin, white eyes, wide hips, and fine hair were all on the list. Most of these attributes line up with youth, because a youthful female is more likely to be able to reproduce. Hairless females appear more youthful, but it is kind of creepy since hair growth starts at puberty.

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

^This website offers another idea, though, which blames Harper's Bazaar for printing ads promoting shaved armpits.

I've thought about this topic quite a bit. I shave pretty much everyday like a lot of the people commenting. I had a lot of friends in high school that didn't shave and they all had boyfriends who were fine with it, which I thought was really great. I'm part of an online dating site which has questions people answer in order to improve their matches. One of the questions is "do women have an obligation to shave?" Even though I shave I could never be with anyone that would answer yes to this question. I use to try to convince myself that I shaved because I wanted to and I liked being "smooth" better, but slowly came to the realization that society is 100% behind my "choosing" to shave. I think it's interested how now a lot of men are shaving as part of this new "metrosexual" movement. It would be great if men and women could feel free to either shave or not shave without being ridiculed my their decisions.

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