2015; this year marks 100 years since Harpers Bazaar released an issue publishing an advertisement for hair depilation. "So what?" I hear you saying. Well back then, hair removal was not something that was considered commonplace. In fact, during its inception, it was really something that was only marketed to the affluent. After all, they were the 'types' of women Harpers were aimed at. This advertisement, along with a string of other events (the invention of Gillette's first Safety Razor - 1901), paved the way for a time in history that would eventually be knows as, THE GREAT UNDERARM CAMPAIGN. . . bum bum buuuuuuum. So what was the logic behind such a push for the removal of underarm hair? 1) fashion. 2) Money. 3) Money. Oh, did I say money twice? Sorry I meant to say 3) Greed. The early 1900's (roughly 1915 onwards) brought with it what seems a trivial change. Sleeveless dresses. But in reality, it created what would years later, become a social norm. The removal of underarm hair. But it wasn't just the change in fashion that propelled this absurd campaign. Gillette was getting in on it too. Most of it. They had already successfully marketed their new product to men after they teamed up with the U.S. Army and handed out razors to every enlisted man during World War I. However, that wasn't enough, (here comes that Money/greed part. The line does get a little blurry) they then went on to market their product to women with their invention of their womens razor - Milady Decolleté Gillette, in 1915. I mean, what woman wouldn't want a gold plated razor with a bit of fancy french wording for Christmas?
So you see, the reason you shave/remove your underarm hair today is because some greedy man with his silly invention, and well, lets face it, some very clever marketing, decided to make a bit of dosh out of the wealthy women of the 1900's. Ok so there is a little more to it than that, but in a nutshell, you rid your hair to support big money making corporations that exist today because of THE GREAT UNDERARM CAMPAIGN of 1915. Whoa heavy stuff right?
Now, I can already here you yelling out your reasons for depilation from here. And yes, I can here those not so polite feminist remarks too... But calm down. I'm not here to try and stop you from doing what makes you feel confident with YOUR body. I'm here to shed a little light on a very brief history lesson in underarm hair removal and to help you understand why some women may choose against the removal of body hair. I for one, do not enjoy the feeling of having my hair ripped from my skin. I certainly don't have the funds for laser hair removal. I don't particularly like those cute little red bumps that pop up to say 'hi' after a fresh shave. And I definitely don't like my underarm looking like a freshly plucked chicken!
With all that being said, if hair removal makes you feel good, then by all means please continue. If, by some chance you feel hair removal is not for you, please know that you do in fact have a choice.
I leave you with images I recently shot to commemorate.. ah hum rethink? The 1915 Great Underarm Campaign. Enjoy.
Model - Massive thanks to Hannah McNicol AKA Lady Fae