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When Did Women Start Shaving – Starting Conversations

By Viktoria
February 2, 2024
7 minutes
When Did Women Start Shaving

There is no specific time or age that you can say is perfect to start shaving. While most girls start thinking about shaving after they hit their puberty phase, there isn’t any set time for this. Regardless of age, body hair tends to start to grow thicker after puberty, along with growing on specific parts such as the underarms or pubic area. So, can you know when is the right time for your young girl to start shaving?

While this debate is quite popular among women, it might be interesting to go through the history of women’s shaving, starting from as early as the 1800s. Delving into the roots of why and when women started shaving (and what beauty standards were set at that time to carry the idea of a hairless woman’s body to modern times) can help us understand the concept of starting to shave for the first time, and guiding young girls to choose what’s best for them for removing unwanted hair.

Table of Contents:

Part 1: Did women shave in the 1800s?

The idea of having a hair-free body to be beautiful wasn’t common for women until the 19th century. In earlier times, removing body hair was not something mandatory, yet still, the practice was followed in many civilizations. For example, evidence has been found that people in ancient times, such as the Stone Age and ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece, used to depilate hair using seashells and beeswax, etc. During that time, not having body hair might have been considered a symbol of cleanliness and class, making someone with a smooth hairless body superior to others.

In other regions, such as the Middle East and East and South Asia, threading was a common method to remove facial hair. However, unibrows were seen to be attractive, with people even using kohl to highlight hair between their eyebrows. In ancient Persia, people believed that a woman starting to remove her hair was ready for marriage. Still, throughout many parts of Asia, women with body hair were seen to be more feminine.

Shaving caught popularity during the 19th century when women started removing their body hair, yet this practice was usually followed only by the upper class. This limitation was soon blurred with the trend of wearing revealing clothes with shorter sleeves and skirts. Nevertheless, the practice was still not something to be discussed openly and was even considered to be scandalous by some.

Did women shave in the 1800s

During the 18th century, the world began to set the beauty standard of having smooth porcelain-like skin for women. Thus, having no facial and body hair started to be imposed as a mandate for women. During this period, women used waxes, tree resins, or shoemakers to remove hair from their bodies, yet all of these methods were extremely painful. Many industrial or homemade depilators were introduced, yet none of them were completely safe and painless to use either.

The late 19th century brought the invention of safety razors, however these were still only common for male usage. Eventually, women started to adopt razors for shaving hair as they were cheaper, safer, and painless to use when compared to other methods popular during that time. Later between the 1920s and 1930s, the trend of shorter clothes kept gaining more popularity and sleeveless dresses with shorter hemlines became the current fashion. This made women crave smooth hairless skin even more. Companies took benefit of this opportunity and advertisements for razors and depilatory could be seen everywhere, featuring pictures of beautiful women with smooth skin. Around this time, Gillette introduced the first razor in 1915 that was designed specifically for women, named the Milady Decollette. All of this reinforced the idea even further that hairlessness was an essential element of “modern” feminine beauty.

After World War 2, the practice of shaving hair for women became quite common, with bikinis and revealing clothes becoming popular. During the 1960s, the feminist movement started gaining momentum, challenging the stereotypes set for gender roles. The supporters of this movement encouraged women to question the standards that had been set upon their sex. Many suggested not embracing the practice of hair removal, deeming it as a sign of oppression and surrendering in front of patriarchy, yet many still believed it to be a personal choice, further popularizing the concept of hairless bodies for women.

Part 2: When should girls start shaving

Most parents think it is a complete no-no for their girls to shave their body hair until they are adults. Yet this is not the case. Whenever they feel the need to shave, you need to be there to help them out, guide them, and support them through this journey.

Signs of Readiness for Shaving

Young girls often start to get interested in shaving their legs and arms as they enter the puberty phase. This stage might hit at different ages for everyone, usually from 9 to 14 years. The reason for this sudden interest is that the hormonal changes during puberty cause body hair to grow quicker and thicker, which might make girls feel conscious about how they look, especially when wearing skirts or short sleeves. As a parent or guardian, you need to help them during this time, guiding them about the do’s and don’t of shaving, as well as teaching them that they should make this decision only if they want, and not under societal pressure.

Signs of Readiness for Shaving

Your daughter (or younger sister) might suddenly feel the urge to shave her legs because someone in her class is bullying her, or because she is inspired by the beautiful models on the TV. Before telling her how to shave, it is important to tell her why she should be shaving in the first place. She must know that all types of grooming are for one ownself – for them to feel confident in their bodies – and not to impress someone or blend with the crowd.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to start shaving at a young age. However, make sure that the girl is mature enough to use the razor safely and is ready to keep up with shaving regularly, or whenever needed.

The Role of Education and Guidance

It is important for you, as a mother or guardian, to have an open talk with your girl about body hair and its removal. They must know how having hair on their body is completely normal. In case you are not there for them to answer their questions, they might end up looking for guidance from their peers or on the internet. Yet there is no sureness that the information they are getting is safe to follow.

Hence, if your daughter or sister comes to you, asking hundreds of questions and wondering if she can shave her legs or arms, make sure to try to provide sufficient answers.

Girls at this age are entering their adulthood and learning to embrace themselves. So, even if you are tempted to set restrictions, you should show them that they can have your trust and that you respect their decisions as long as they are safe for them and their growing bodies.

The Role of Education and Guidance

So take them on a little trip to the mart and buy them their first shaving kit, adding the best razor for them. Show them how to use the shaving foam or gel (and tell them why is it important to not skip it). Teach them the direction in which they should shave, and how much pressure is enough on the shaver to avoid getting any cuts. Also remember to not omit to tell about any risks that shaving might bring, such as razor burns or ingrown hair. In short, walk them through the whole process thoroughly and make sure you are there for them even in the future if they come up with any questions later!

Part 3: Ulike IPL hair removal – a great alternative for shaving

If you are looking for a safer yet more efficient method for getting rid of unwanted hair from your body, IPL might be the best option for you.

IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light, uses different lengths of light to target the multiple layers of skin and damage hair follicles, delaying the re-growth for several weeks. An IPL device is also great for treating certain skin issues such as hyperpigmentation and minor acne. Being painless and safe, you can use an IPL device at home without the need for any professional guidance.

Ulike IPL hair removal

Ulike provides one of the best IPL devices in the market. Equipped with its Sapphire ice-cooling technology, the device gives you an effective yet quick treatment of almost 12 minutes. Unlike other IPL devices, the UV filters of the Ulike guarantee that the whole process is safe for your skin while it kills 90% of your hair follicles to ensure long-term results.

Conclusion

Even though there is no specific age to start a conversation with young girls about shaving, you can look for certain signs or when they start to show interest in removing hair on their legs and/or arms. In any case, it is important to encourage them not to surrender to stereotypes and go for shaving only if they want to do it on their own.

Society has set several beauty standards for women, which have established the idea of mandating hairless bodies deep in their mind, while also hushing them from any related discussions, labeling it as a matter of privacy.

It is extremely essential for the younger generation to trust their own decisions, be confident of their looks, and have some adult beside them to guide them through the journey of self-grooming and personal hygiene as they grow into better and more beautiful versions of themselves.

Viktoria
Viktoria
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