If we shave, aren’t we feminists?

It has been 109 years since Gillette launched the Milady Décolleté in 1914, the first razor designed specifically for women. It was essentially a regular razor, but the packaging left no doubt about the new target audience: flowers and shades of pink. It seems that in those years, nylon tights were in short supply due to the war, and therefore more and more women preferred to show off their smooth legs under ankle-length skirts. Needless to say, the parable of women’s depilatory products has seen a resurgence since then, and the depilation after depilation that we have achieved today is between epilators, disposable razors, wax, lasers or pulsed light. We have a huge selection, and the colors and shades of pink remain, as well as the inspiring message that has spread in recent years as a consequence of smooth legs: you shave for yourself to feel beautiful. Remember: this is a personal choice. But is it really so?

A few weeks ago, Deva Cassel, the beautiful daughter of Monica Bellucci, posted on Instagram a photo of herself in a bathing suit, showing unshaven armpits. Meanwhile, here in Italy, we hear things like “Lovely Georgia Soleri, very bad hair.” The model and feminist activist has made no secret of her decision to embrace body hair for what it is, and in this she seems to be in line with Generation Z, who are increasingly clearing bodies of gender norms and so-called positive attitudes towards body hair. According to a survey conducted by Mio Dottore and Brown, nine out of 10 Italian women still prefer depilation of the female body (90% of those surveyed remove at least part of their body hair). However, among those under 25 years of age, the speech is different: 33% consider it normal for a woman not to shave, for them it is synonymous with freedom. Wow.

All this, perhaps still to be repeated, has something to do with our idea of ​​femininity: even if male hair removal is more common than before, only 5% of those surveyed do not find a man attractive. shaved. On the other hand, for women, not shaving means being a little less feminine and therefore less attractive: some say he would never sleep with a hairy girl. This is a social norm: some form of depilation was already widespread in ancient Egypt, especially on the pubis (the legend says that Cleopatra shaved with sugar and honey), the same is true for ancient Greece and ancient Rome. In the Middle Ages, the church contributed to the spread of the idea of ​​the sinfulness of shaving intimate areas, this time doing a favor to the female sex. The practice, however, continued in various fashions until it exploded in the early decades of the 1900s. As women’s bodies became more visible, with skirts getting shorter and arms exposed, depilation spread. The rest is thanks to advertising.

As sociologists Merran Thorien and Sue Wilkinson explain in their study Gender and body hair: creating a feminine woman lack of epilation in women occurs often associated with poor hygiene, lack of control over one’s appearance, little femininity, little sex appeal. This is common, given that hair, on the contrary, serves to protect the most delicate areas from bacteria and other external agents, and also plays a role in stimulating sexual pleasure. For men, the appearance of hair corresponds to the approach of adulthood, we women, on the other hand, will soon realize the need to be smooth, like little girls. Our rite of passage is the first wax. Of course, this can be avoided, but at what cost? Appearance, comments and immediate categorization. Hairy people are “feminists,” whatever that means to the other person.

As feminist activist Bel Olid writes, “Regardless of sexual orientation, showing hair in public is a kind of signpost that says, ‘I don’t conform to the gender norm represented by hair removal’,” “don’t shave,” “puts you on the side of the rebel, prone to labeling you as a depraved feminist who doesn’t have sex (it doesn’t matter which of these categories you actually fall into). Thus, argues Olid, often women who actually prefer to show their leg and underarm hair manage to do so because they “compensate” in some other way for the level of femininity required of them, perhaps because their body conforms to that of a woman. type. aesthetic standards or just because I’m cisgender. PIn fact, for trans women, choosing not to shave can mean risking their lives by exposing themselves to transphobic hate..

However, for all of them, shaving is more or less tiring, expensive, boring, painful, splattering: who would do that if they really had a choice? “To say that hair removal is a personal decision, that we do it freely and that no one should interfere, may give us a certain sense of freedom, but we are deceiving ourselves,” writes Olid. So, every summer we are faced with a dilemma: choose not to shave and put up with remarks and judgments while we seek some peace in the sun in a tanning bed, or put up with another piece of sacrificed freedom? If we consider ourselves feminists, then this is even worse. Along with the heat and irritation from regrowth, we have to take the blame. Sometimes, when I remember that the next day I go to the beach and falsely wave my razor (great-grandson of Milady Decollete from Gillette) with the words “Who makes me do this”, Alessandra Racca’s poem comes to mind: I met on Instagram thanks to the magic of the algorithm. Has a name Invective against hair removal and I manage to console myself a little, even for the pains of Silk-épil.

you are aggressive

and unnatural

It’s useless

and i can’t live without you

I hate you

because i like myself

how i love this age


But know

you can change my body

not me:

I have a hairy soul

that will always grow back.

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