From the time we were young teenagers, mainly girls, we were always told to wax our body hair. Hair removal for aesthetic enhancement of women’s bodies has a long history.

At the dawn of the 20th century a radical shift in beauty standards was taking shape. Women were now expected to go beyond the boundaries of tradition and adopt a new practice – waxing their legs and arms. But what was it that drove us to succumb to such unrealistic demands ? 

The answer lies with three distinct industries. It started with the fashion industry who sought to capitalize on women’s newfound role as consumers. Harper’s Bazaar was the first to launch a hair removal campaign dedicated exclusively to women in 1915. Men ’s shaving company Gillette followed suit by launching a razor specifically for women. Wax strips, laser hair removal & hair removal creams also debuted around then.

Suddenly, thanks to the film industry and ads for hair removal products, body hair became socially unacceptable. Removing body hair went from being ‘expected’ to becoming an unwritten rule. Hairlessness became the only ‘natural way’ to present oneself. But really, this is anything but natural!

Fortunately, we are now witnessing a refreshing change in attitude towards female body hair. An increasing number of young women are embracing their body hair as a sign of personal strength. They are refusing to adhere to outdated beauty norms imposed by society.

For decades women have been socialized to bear the pain of hair removal no matter how excruciating in order to achieve their desired ‘smooth’ image. Despite women complaining about the pain, the socialization to bear the pain to fit the image expected by society is so strong that they would spend thousands to get it done each month. With small salons at every corner in most cities, the price paid by women is not just in terms of the pain. Each month, they set aside a budget for hair removal.

Women often don’t realize how much society, family and friends weigh in on what we do with our bodies. And how much of what we think is a choice  that ‘I choose to shave’  has actually been imparted to and enforced upon us for generations.

It may not sound revolutionary now, but embracing body hair in all its glory is an important step towards true acceptance. Let’s lay down our razors and celebrate being able to choose whether or not to remove our hair. After all everyone should be free to express themselves however they please!