Stuff Mom Never Told You
Seeing beyond pink and blue to decode the mysteries of men and women.

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When did women start shaving their legs? | October 20, 2010

 
Molly

I kinda can’t believe that a boy of that age had the nerve to say something like that. I feel like boys don’t like to point out ladies’ bodies.

Christen

I think he just didn’t really know what was going on because it probably did look a little odd. And I remember it very vividly. We were sitting Indian style side-by-side at play time of some sort. And he just looked down and said, “Girl what’s up with your legs? It’s kinda gross.” And I said, “OMG.”

Molly

Wow, you had a – that boy – I can see why you had a crush on that boy.

Cristen

He looked like Jonathon Taylor Thomas.

Molly

[Gasp]

Cristen

Now you get it.

Molly

I do get it a little bit.

Cristen

So there we go. That’s my story of when I started shaving my legs for the first time, but what I didn’t realize until we started doing this podcast was that I actually have Harper’s Bazaar to thank. Can we make that transition? Is that a smooth transition? I don’t think it is, but today we’re gonna talk about why I wanted to shave my legs in the first place.

Molly

Yeah. And this is one of our most often requested podcasts.

Cristen

Yes.

Molly

People want to know why they’re taking their body hair off. And it’s not that people are opposed to it. Sometimes, you might see some sort of feminist analysis of shaving legs and they’ll say, “Oh women are fine just the way they are. Don’t shave your legs.” It’s not the people who – like that who are writing us. It’s people who do it anyway, who don’t have a problem doing it, think it looks nice. They just wanna know why they do it.

Cristen

Why do we do it? Why do we keep up as women all of this hair removal? And we’re just gonna stick to the legs today in terms of hair removal. We’re talking about why we’re shaving our legs. That’s it; pretty focused, but the thing about it is it didn’t really start with the legs. We had to start somewhere else to get down to the legs, but I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself.

Molly

That’s right Cristen. And that is one of the coolest facts to me about shaving legs is it did not start with the legs.

Cristen

No.

Molly

And to explain the story of how women began to shave their legs, specifically in the United States, it’s very US focused today, we have to go back to 1982 and a scholar named Christine Hope who wrote a very monumental article called “Caucasian Female Body Hair and American Culture.” A well-named study if I do say so myself.

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