Personal grooming can be murderous! That’s the takeaway message of a two-century-old crime and modern women are taking note, inciting others to join their cause on Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr.
In 1793, radical revolutionary journalist Jean-Paul Marat was killed by a female Royalist; fatally stabbed in his bathtub, where he would sit for hours treating a skin disease that had plagued him for years. (Image above spoofs “Death of Marat” painted by his pal, Jacques-Louis David.) His bathroom ritual helped do him in, is your daily routine killing you too?
Now legions of women weary of razor cuts, wax burns (start using sugar wax – here’s our recipe) and depilatory rashes are teaming up on social media in groups dedicated to the unshaven female body. It’s a revolt that arises every few generations against a style norm; a buck against an estimated 6,000 years of human slavery to shaving.
Shaving evolved not so much for vanity as for health (ancient Egyptians went hairless to deter lice and prevent disease). It eventually gained secular style status and significance in religion too with Jewish and Islamic laws specifically addressing shaving practices.
The act of shaving (or not) has frequently been political, used to convey personal rebellion. More recently, it’s assumed an environmental component – with disparate groups such as The Sierra Club and beer-brewer Budweiser urging men to grow beards to save water (3 gallons is used for a typical facial shave). A hirsute-ladies trend is also gaining traction online.
Fish around on Facebook and discover groups such as a Swedish gang named “Ta håret tillbaka!“, Hairy Armpits, and Hairy Legs (which turned out to be a dog-walking service). Some are clearly fetish groups, others offer bona fide support and encouragement to women considering a foray into fuzz.
WANG (Women Against Non-Essential Grooming) believes, “Everyone should be free from coercive gendered bodily norms. We look forward to a day when people can present their bodies in whatever way they choose, free from social constraints.”
The Hairy Legs Club Tumblr site self-describes as a “positive space”, and the Very Hairy Legs blog celebrates women who decided to stop shaving.
An unscientific survey (of friends who answered my calls this morning) showed no takers for this trend. There were waxers and sugarers, predictable for the Middle East where girly body baldness reigns supreme.
Shavers were divided between those who do it every day versus only when they “need to” (qualified as beach visits, jobs that require wearing a skirt, or important dates).
So will you ditch your depilatory? Reject the razor? Give it a test-run with a pair of “hairy leg socks” like those shown below.
Share your views, but please – no pictures!
Images from WANG’s Facebook Page