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Why Do Women Shave?

Updated on January 5, 2015

To Shave or Not To Shave...Ladies, that is the question

Inspired by a recent Hub question, I found the need to investigate a little further into the “hair removal phenomenon”. Why do we shave, what are we shaving, with what do we shave with and how often are we doing it? Being a female, shaving is absolutely routine, necessary part of life. I must admit it gets tedious and I wish hair would just go away and stay away. Why do we have to give up so much of our time to the art of hair removal? I figured if I shave my legs every other day at 10 minutes each session another 8 minutes for the other areas of the body; underarms and below the waist, and pluck my eyebrows or wax them every week at 5 minutes per setting; then I have given up at least an hour to just removing unwanted hair in my week, that’s at least 4 hours a month and a good 48 hours a year. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much but sometimes shaving seems like it consumes two days in one sitting. Shaving is obviously not the only part of our regular grooming process. There is bathing itself, tending to hairdos, applying makeup, finding an outfit, painting our nails; the list is never ending. Why are we doing this?

Sexy?

The art of shaving

Imagine if women didn’t shave their legs, I don’t mean skipping a day or two, I mean simply didn’t shave? We would look like animals and being that we have adopted this regimen as normal, it is something we could never turn back from. Obviously I like the way I feel when my body is smooth; who likes a prickly feeling? Yet, it’s tedious and even after finding that uncomfortable position in the shower where the soap or shaving cream is not being washed away and we are not being pelted in the face by water and give up a good 10 minutes to shaving, we will probably, more than likely have missed a spot. A spot of course that we will not notice until we are away from home where a razor is no longer accessible. Ladies you know what I’m talking about; you’re out in public and you look down to see the sun beaming a ray directly on that one hair or miniature patch that we missed. We have a minor panic attack and wonder if we can make it through the situation without bolting. Whatever is a girl to do; I’ve missed a spot, oh no, I’m so embarrassed, no one look at me, I’m hideous!

Shaving is not fun, don't even lie

That’s just the hell of leg shaving and I’m not even talking about underarms and bikini lines or the whole “thing” if you go that route; that’s an entirely different feat. If you’re anything like me you have to spend 10 minutes prepping before you can even get into the shower. I take my handy dandy electric/battery operated shaver and take care of most of the job with my sacred place. If I’m lucky and it’s a good day I will not snag myself in the process, that’s always enjoyable. Then in the shower I usually tend to the actually bikini line area and the underarms. Sure, there are methods to shaving, using warm water to open the pores and exfoliating to ensure the dead skin is out of the way, but I don’t care, I still end up with razor burn somewhere or another, quite frequently, especially when in a hurry. I’ve had flaming underarms, on more than one occasion, usually the result of a rushed shave job.

So many options...

Yes, I like these better than women's shavers; those are good for hitting legs or bikini area on a rushed day. These get the Big Jobs done!

Shaving What?!

Next quandary; what is it exactly that we’re supposed to be shaving? Is it a personal choice, is it a matter of societal norms, or is it up to our partner’s preference? At what age do we start shaving; what is too young and by what age should we be most definitely shaving by? Is there such a thing as too old to shave?

Do we shave above the knees; what does it say about us if we do, what does it say about us if we don't? Do we shave the outskirts of our bikini or behind them and what does that say about us? Is all this hair removal a "new-age" thing?

Ouch!

Legs: To the Knees or Past the Knees?

Myself I have been shaving from my ankles to arse since the first day I ever shaved. The first day I ever shaved; sometime after leaving the 5th grade and prior to entering the 6th grade. At that time we were just entering the 90’s and I knew that shaving was something that little kids didn’t do. I was terrified to ask my mother if it was okay for me to start shaving, but when my best friend shaved for the first time (due to her mother telling her it was time; her blonde hairs were sticking out through her black tights), that was it for me. I hid shaving from my parents; I was terrified that they would think I was too young and I didn’t have their official permission. I remember being up at our family camp and finding a razor left behind by another woman and actually saw that as my opportunity, yeah I know, what the heck was I thinking? What makes it even worse; I wasn’t aware of any shaving techniques and so I just ran the razor up my leg like I was on some kind of a mission and took off most of the skin on my left shin; a faint little reminder remains on my leg today, almost 20 years later. I concocted a story with my girlfriend that we were to tell my parents, upon inquiring about my bleeding shin, that it was the result of my fingernail gouging my leg as I pulled my dry sock up my wet leg, hey, they bought it. Anyway, I was simply under the impression that women shave all the way up and so that was what I did and put no thought into the matter. That is until about 10 years later my sister-in-law shared with me that she doesn’t shave above the knee and I was dumbfounded. I was thinking; “why on earth not?” I’ll tell you what; from that day on I never stopped looking at her thighs, and yes, I saw the hair. She was a few years older than me and her mother taught her that women aren’t supposed to shave above the knee, so she just never did.

Then there’s the when?

Okay, so as I mentioned before I shave every other day, that’s usually with a good razor, but sometimes I do shave daily. I live in Upstate New York, which means I’m wearing pants for at least 6 months out of the year. Uh why do I have to have smooth legs under my pants? I’ll tell you why, because I’m not a Nun! Sure, I like the feel of a smooth leg, but if I lived in a Convent I’m sure I wouldn’t find it necessary to keep my legs the way I would when frequenting the beach regularly. It is the man, what man wants to feel hair on a lady’s leg? Here’s the catch; they always want to roll around 28 hours after we’ve shaved, at least mine seems to. The next few hours after a shower I feel unstoppable, I’ve got the skin of a newborn baby; you won’t find a hair anywhere. I think to myself, “now is the time, get it while the getting’s good”. Of course not, it seems without fail he comes sniffin’ around when I’m starting to enter that prickle phase and no longer feel sexy. So what’s the big deal? I’ll tell you what the big deal is; we ladies will spend an insurmountable amount of time, pre-shaving, shaving, post shaving, going over every inch, in the event that our man will be looking for us, all the to-do for nothing? If I knew that I’d be snowed in, wearing pants and not rolling around the sheets for a couple of days, I might just skip the shaving routine once in a great while, but nooo, like good soldiers we must always be prepared.

Shaving and You

How do you feel about shaving/hair removal?

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    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 4 years ago

      I think women shave to be the (opposite) of men.

      Most guys don't want a woman who is just like them. (hairy legs and arm pits). Facial hair and nipple hair on a woman is also a real turn off for most men. However it really does come down to culture. I'm told in many countries women don't shave their legs or under arms. After menopause most women have very little leg hair.

      Ironically in the U.S. both genders are taking to shaving their pubic hair. My guess is the porn industry has been a heavy influence. :-)

    • HattieMattieMae profile image

      HattieMattieMae 4 years ago from Limburg, Netherlands

      hmm...yes culturally we are different in that aspect. We also only know what we've seen in the locker room, or at home, or learned from friends and mothers. Guess we just learn to do our own thing. lol

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      dashingscorpio,

      I love you're theory about being the opposite of men, I guess that's what sets us apart isn't it.

      As far as hair in other cultures; you're right. I'm not an expert on the topic but looking through pictures for my hub I saw more hair in more places then I would've ever imagined.

      That's pretty sad I find myself a bit anxious for menopause; no more visits from Aunt Ruby, less leg hair? (I know, it comes with it's own evil creatures, ie hot flashes etc.)

      I wouldn't be surpised if the porn industry, and the help of delivering it through media and technologies, haven't affected our massive need for ultimate hair removal. I'll tell you, we used to joke as teenagers that our

      fathers had the porn from the 70's, you know the one's where everything comes with a "fro". Thanks for the comments, they've got me smiling.

      HattieMattieMae,

      I know my mother never had a "talk" with me about when to start shaving and what I should be shaving. My daughter is only 8 and I am really not into discussing it with her right now, do you really have a "talk" about that with your kids or do they just figure it out on their own?

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I started shaving around 6th grade as well and found quickly how much of a chore it was. Since I have dark hair it's easy to notice when I miss a spot so I have to go back and shave where I missed, which was usually the back of my leg. For that reason as well as the fact I don't wear short skirts or shorts, I don't go past my knee. And if I did, I probably still wouldn't go past my knee. While it is true shaving's not pleasant, I've become so used to doing it that not doing it feels even stranger. Interesting hub.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Alecia Murphy,

      Thanks for the comment. I've often heard that if you never shave above the knee then the hair stays more fine and less noticeable. I've wondered if I made a bad choice when first shaving because now there is no turning back.

      I always seem to "miss a spot" somewhere and usually don't even notice until I'm far from home, then I think "well what was the point in shaving if I'm still walking around with hair on my leg?" If I'm taking the time to shave, I want it all gone! Thanks again

    • HattieMattieMae profile image

      HattieMattieMae 4 years ago from Limburg, Netherlands

      Well I never had a talk with anyone, just observed the woman in my life. lol

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      HattieMattieMae,

      I suppose that is true for many girls. Is there an age that a girl should start shaving and what age is too young?

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Great article on this topic. I think every woman shaves so that she looks feminine -- not hairy like our counterparts (or counterpersons)!

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      teaches12345,

      Thanks, I agree. It's too bad that we women haven't evolved into a semi-hairless creatures. I'd love to be smooth without any work. :-)

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      I started shaving my legs when I was 11, when my legs were noticably hairy and my mother told me to. I was upset about doing it at first, because blades freaked me out. I don't remember being told how to do it, and I had little cuts quite often. It was many of the things I hated to do when I was young. I'm used to it now, although it is a hassle at times. I shave every 2-3 days, at least. I like smooth skin. I also shave above the knee, but only for the past few years. The hair above the knee is very light, but I like smooth skin. Just a personal preferance.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Kathryn,

      Isn't that a bit of a scary thought, little girls with blades? I think when I was growing up in the 80's shaving was viewed as a maturity thing and even a little sexual, "why would a girl need smooth legs?" kind of a thing. I didn't want my parents to think I was thinking about "all" the benefits to smooth legs just because I started shaving. I just did what girls my age were doing. I have also wondered if shaving above the knees was seen as some kind of a sexually related thing. Do only loose women shave above the knees? I didn't know where I had gotten that from either except for maybe growing up on Little House on the Prairie where they had their legs covered under their ankle long dresses? And, what ever happened to stockings and pantyhose? We have seemed to drop that barrier over the last 10 or 20 years as well.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      I think if my mom hadn't told me to start shaving, I would have been insecure about it. We moved not long after I started, and I can guarantee you that my new childhood friend would have made me aware of shaving if I had not already been doing so. She was usually ahead of me on doing things that seemed more mature and grownup.

      It is funny how we don't always know exactly what is "proper", or why a certain thing is normal.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Kathryn,

      You mentioned moving; I think that location absolutely affects how we are brought up and who we become. I grew up in Upstate New York in a very rural little village with less than 100 homes and 5 streets. I wasn't exposed to very much outside of my circle, which I think is good and bad.

      I know, I remember after my best friend started shaving, thinking; "oh am I supposed to be shaving now?"

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      I loved reading this hub! You had me cracking up at the part about men not being frisky until the hair grows back in. I thought I was the only one who got irritated about that. It is like you "wasted" a shower, a razor or a hair removal job! Especially annoying for me since I can't shower or shave everyday or my skin gets very irritated.

      Maybe that issue is part of the "caveman" chemicals still floating around in the male brain. Society says hair is unattractive, but it IS part of our natural features, just like all the other things we tote around that drive guys wild. So, even though he says he prefers shaved, my partner is always more interested when things are in the growing out stage.

      As for when I first shaved? I think I was fifteen. I rebelled against it forever because I was such a homely kid anyhow that I didn't figure it was worth the hassle. I was homeschooled though, so no peer pressure. That would make it much harder, and naturally girls will probably want to shave at the same time as their peer group. I think it would be awesome if we reverted back to being attracted (as a society) to natural physical traits. I certainly don't like men who are shaved!

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Sharkye11,

      Thank you. I think you're right about the "caveman" thing. Something about us women at our roughest, when we're the least prepared, they seem to come calling.

      Aw homely, said who? You're too cute to have ever been homely and besides that just a matter debatable opinions.

      What a world it would be if we could just "roll outta bed and go". It's funny, I know a lot of men that do. I think us women have it harder!

    • lisasuniquevoice profile image

      Lisa Brown 4 years ago from Michigan

      Canuhearmescream,

      Thank you for writing such an open and honest article about shaving and being smooth. I think it's great that you added the little pictures of the choices women have for grooming down under. You know everyone is doing it. This is the first time I've heard of anyone talking about it. The comments you're getting are really interesting.

      Stay smooth,

      Lisa

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      lisauniquevoice,

      Thank you. I'm certainly not shy and I like to share my thoughts with the world but hope to never offend anyone. I can't get over the switch from 20-30 years ago to today in what, where and why we are shaving! I figured it was something that the ladies could relate to. Thanks again!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      ....because I am a man with an open mind I always try to learn about how the other half lives, so to speak, and I remember years ago now, that my girlfriend at the time who was a bikini model 'had' to be a good barber, lol. (as she was beautiful and 'bald.')

      Sending my warmest wishes to you, my favorite online Cat in the whole darn world, and thank you for another very interesting hub presentation as only you can tell it.

      Lake erie time canada, Colin, Tiffy and Gabriel - 5:59pm

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 4 years ago from Oakley, CA

      It is a major PITA, and if you ask me, part of that stupid old double-standard. Women have not done this since the dawn of time--obviously, or there would not still be cultures where they don't.

      I don't know when it came about, and who decided that women with hairy legs are any less sexy than hairy-legged men! I don't particularly find hairy men sexy, either...but try to talk any guy into shaving his pits or legs! Wow! The only ones who do seem to be professional wrestlers, body builders and swimmers...if you've noticed in the Olympics....but not the diving team...just the swimmers--it apparently cuts down on drag in the water, and any advantage they can get, they will take.

      As for the menopause aspect, that's true enough--I don't need to bother more than about once a week in winter, maybe twice a week in summer, anymore...what a relief!

    • Theophanes profile image

      Theophanes 4 years ago from New England

      This article just continues to highlight how much I am confused by women (even being one doesn't seem to help me much.) I do not get the shaving thing at all. When I was young my mother actually advised me not to shave (not that I was thinking about it.) I have very fine, very light hair on my legs which my lover can't feel and other women can't see. Why shave it and ensure it becomes black stubble I will have to shave later on?!

      I'm all for keeping clean and smelling clean. Beyond that I am just perplexed as to all these rituals... shaving, nail polish, make-up... isn't it traditionally the male animal that is supposed to look pretty in the Animal Kingdom? I mean lions and birds and tropical fish! Why are humans backwards? And some of these things don't just perplex me they nauseate me. I would never consider shaving my lady bits. I'd feel like a pedophile magnet at that point. I would actually be repulsed by any man who thinks that's sexy because that's what I'd be thinking.... that I look like an effin' 12 year old.

      Anyway, thanks for the article. It was an amusing read! Voted up!

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      My dearest Colin,

      Gee, I thought it was hard enough keeping up with being a woman and all the shaving we must do; I couldn't imagine a day in the life of a bikini model. Go you... Colin... go you!

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      DzyMsLizzy,

      I couldn't agree more. I would like to know who first opened their mouth and suggested that women remove hair from their bodies. If it would never have started we wouldn't be doing it and we would know no different. Sure I am accustomed to it now and couldn't imagine being any other way, but I would sure to not have the hassle.

      I remember seeing boys come to school suddenly smooth, only to find that it was due to being a part of the swim team. How awkward I thought it looked because we are not familiar with that picture... and there would've been a day that the world was unfamiliar with women looking that way as well.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Theophanes,

      You bring up a great point about the male species being the "pretty" ones. I remember learning birds back in elementary school and how amazed I was that all of the male birds were so attractive and the female birds were so plain. Yes, the male species is supposed to be the better looking of the sexes for mating purposes. I have a feeling that women would not have a hard time attracting mating partners if they didn't shave.

      We do it to ourselves; all the primping and the more we do the more is expected. We are creating very high standards.

      ...and I have raised the same questions.

      Thanks for the comments and the laugh! :-)

    • PaoloJpm profile image

      John Paolo B.Magdaluyo 4 years ago from Philippine

      Great hub! well, I think a lady wit long beard is something unusual and interesting to see though, glad are beautiful woman in early age learned doing it. :)

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Hi PaoloJpm,

      That reminds me... you are on my "to do" list. I need to get over there and check out your hubs!

      Yes, women with beards just don't look quite right do they!? :-)

      Since we evolve to accommodate our environments over the years, you'd think that we would just stop growing hair in the places we shave... that'd be nice.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      I got shaving my legs down to a science of just 7 minutes and there are ways to make sure no 'spot' is missed. Yes, and at least once a day.

      Have noted women who shave only to the knee and then they wear mini skirts -- and sometimes it looks like a gorilla masquerading as a woman . . . Sorry, I didn't mean to say anything that might upset any of your readers like I did on your driving hub. ;)

      In my Psychology of Sex class, our tenured male professor asked our class of 150 students what our opinion was of the Brazilian Wax. One young man several seats down the row from where I was sitting said somewhat shyly, "Well, I kinda like to see what I'm doing and where I'm going." To which I whispered the response, "Get a flashlight!" The acoustics in that classroom were amazing and more people heard than I planned. ;)

      I would think shaving or waxing certain areas would be extremely painful and on-goingly uncomfortable when the prickles start popping out. Just my opinion, please don't get upset Mr. Quill.

      Voting this hub up and funny!

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Au fait's been eating her Wheaties! :D Oh my goodness... I can't stop laughing! What a sarcastic sense of humor you have; that's my favorite :-)

      'Like a gorilla masquerading as a woman...', ha ha...

      Gee, I would not expect you to be the student in class with the 'flashlight' comment, ha ha, that's great! I guess I was wrong.

      I'll tell you... boredom or curiosity... I attempted waxing a spot that I had no business and after I bled and screamed, I vowed that I'd never, ever put anything sticky there again! :D

      Don't worry about the driving hub, my goodness, you might as well know now that there is nothing that offends me... I usually find everything oddly amusing. I respect his opinion as I do yours as well and to be quite frank, I haven't finished reading the rest of what was said between you two. If anything, I'm sorry if my hubs causes issues between other hubbers, but Mr. Quill is old-fashioned and respectful, so I'm assuming there have been no feelings hurt.

      Thank you for you're always insightful, extremely entertaining contributions to my hub... and now I have quite the Au fait hubs stacking up on me :D

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      You really need to go and read the entirety of mine and Mr. Quill's exchange. It's not that long, encompassing only 3 comments -- so far -- wait 'til he reads my response to him! OMG, where will I find a asylum? ;)

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Oh no! That's exactly where I left off... I'm on my way. lol, What trouble am I in for? :-)

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      You are in no trouble. Hopefully no one is in any trouble, but Mr. Quill may take offense at my sassy remarks because he may not consider them sufficiently deferential to his superior maleness. Thus I may have to run and hide when he discovers them. ;)

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      Au fait,

      Well you certainly are one sassy cookie! I wouldn't change anything about you, you're a strong, intelligent, beautiful woman and I can't guess how Romeo will react because he is not around. Ha ha... I'm guessing you don't run and hide from anyone... besides, I don't think he's likely to retaliate... you should be safe :D

    • KenDeanAgudo profile image

      Kenneth C Agudo 4 years ago from Tiwi, Philippines

      Voted as funny,

      I wonder why women needs to shave. lol But I seldomly see females with hairs in there legs.

    • Cantuhearmescream profile image
      Author

      Cat 4 years ago from New York

      KenDeanAgudo,

      Hey, thanks... sorry such a delay in my response but this almost slipped by me! I think it would just be so much nicer if we evolved to where we did not grow hair where we do not want it. Men have it so much easier :-)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Cat

    • therunningman profile image

      therunningman 3 years ago from Rhode Island

      I'm a newbie and stumbled across this hub. The hub plus the comments made me laugh, this was the highlight of my day. Still smirking as I write this. Just one guy's opinion but ladies please leave the 'lady bits' the way nature intended. Not looking for someone who looks pre-pubescent. Have read a few of your pieces tonight, you are a fine writer. I look forward to following more of your hubs.

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